For social media influencers, success is measured in thousands and millions, but for many, it’s subscribers, not books.
This month, MPs recommended the government investigate pay standards in the industry as part of a broader review of the influencer market, citing inconsistent pay rates and evidence of a pay gap. racial compensation.
Influencers and content creators told different stories to The Guardian. Florian Gadsby, 29, posts videos of himself making pottery on Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. He says his income is inconsistent across different platforms, although it’s not his primary form of income (and he also uses the sites to advertise his wares to shoppers). He gets the most from YouTube, which offers a cut in revenue from ads shown alongside his videos, but a small amount from Instagram directly, where he has 639,000 subscribers.
“It would be great if there could be a consistent way to pay influencers across social media platforms, but I think it’s too complicated to standardize,” he says.
Aziza Makamé, 27, works full-time in marketing but supplements her income with a TikTok Account carrying pet contents. “I would never recommend it full-time,” she says, adding that life outside of the top tier of influencers is tough. “You’re constantly looking for payments and bills, and trying to create content.”
But for Nifè, a 26-year-old TikTok creator and influencer with 2.3 million followers, her popular dance videos were a commercial success. Brand partnerships with Coca-Cola and Nespresso have helped her earn over £150,000 since the end of 2021. “I think attracting the right brands and the right opportunities is probably the best way to make money. money with TikTok,” she said.
The huge variation in influencer pay rates has prompted MPs to take action. The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Commission said social media platforms don’t “appropriately and consistently reward influencers for their work” and also warned that paying brands “varies wildly”. The committee also pointed to research indicating a racial pay gap within the industry.
Influencers — a catch-all term for people who make money by producing content online — build relationships with their audience, which can number in the millions, by creating content ranging from TikTok clips to YouTube videos and to Instagram posts. Their work can take the form of cooking classes, exercise tutorials, or fashion and cosmetics video blogs.
Payment can come from a number of sources, including: brands paying influencers to promote their products; The YouTube Partner Program, which offers a reduction in advertising revenue from advertisements accompanying videos; lend or give products or services in exchange for advice or approval; follower donations or purchases of an influencer’s own products; and fundraising programs offered by TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram.
If you go the brand partnership route, payout rates can vary wildly. Influencers with 100,000 followers who sign up with brands to promote products earn between £250 and £30,000 per campaign, according to data from agency SevenSix, which helps influencers secure deals with brands. The Instagram page influencerpaygap is a popular place for influencers to share pay rate information.
“There is definitely an inconsistency in fees, but it is possible to have a successful career as an influencer. Understanding industry fee structures, as unsophisticated as they currently are, is very important,” says Charlotte Williams, founder of SevenSix, who says the key to success is connecting with PR professionals and brand managers who run product campaigns.
TikTok is making undisclosed funds available to some creators in the UK, Snapchat paid out $250m (£200m) to users around the world through its Spotlight scheme last year, and Parts of Instagram’s bonus program for creators are available in the UK, while OnlyFans gives creators 80% of their subscription fees. YouTube’s Partner Program for accounts with over 1,000 subscribers offers a 55% reduction in ad revenue.
The Advertising Standards Authority told MPs that a “small minority” of influencers demand the highest fees, while “many don’t succeed”. It is a competitive but growing market. According to one estimate, the influencer marketing industry will grow from $6 billion in 2020 to $24.1 billion by 2025.
Steps are also being taken to create a union for influencers and creators in the UK. Kat Molesworth, co-founder of Creator Union, hopes to start recruiting members later this year. She says influencers and content creators are often treated poorly, working without a contract and waiting months or years to get paid.
“I think funding for a union should partly come from industry, both the advertising industry and social media platforms, because influencers are part of a global economy of $6 billion. dollars and they deserve to be treated fairly and represented,” said Molesworth.