The Do’s and Don’ts of Compensating Instagram influencers

GRIN also recommends the Influencer Marketing Budget Toolkit which includes: Influencer Payments Cheat Sheet + Budget Calculator + Negotiations Checklist


Designing an Instagram influencer marketing campaign isn’t as easy as it seems. While some people may be tempted to see this as “fluff” marketing, especially when compared to traditional ad campaigns, you need to put a lot of thought and effort into a campaign if you want it to succeed.

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You’ve thought a lot about the shape the campaign will take, which activities you’ll include, and even which Instagrammers you’ll partner with. One thing you may have thought less about is how you’ll compensate your partner influencers.

Compensation is a difficult part of any contract negotiation, even when it comes to influencers. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to keep you on the right track.

Do Compensate Instagram Influencers!

Perhaps the biggest misstep companies make is assuming they don’t need to compensate their influencers on Instagram. You might assume they’ll be happy just to promote your product and get additional exposure through your brand networks.

The promise of “exposure” doesn’t pay the bills, though, and influencers are unlikely to be swayed to work with you for free. Unless your product is truly best in class, you’ll need to pony up.

Don’t Overpromise

The next biggest mistake when it comes to compensation is agreeing to terms that are too generous. If you have a budget, always keep it in mind.

While you’ll have a more successful campaign if you actually compensate your Instagram influencers, you also need to be careful about promising them too much. Some influencer contracts promise a percentage of sales. If the influencer has a large network of devoted fans, what looks like a small percentage could turn into a huge chunk of your profits.

Also, be leery of pay-for-content. Some unscrupulous influencers may try to squeeze every penny out of you by creating lots of content and not much quality. It might sound like a great idea to pay them for every post they tag you in, but beware! They may start tagging you in every post.

Do Offer More Than Product

Many companies hope compensation means “product.” While many Instagram influencers do accept free products, you’ll likely land better influencers and have a more successful campaign if you sweeten the pot a little.

Instagram influencers like free things as much as the next person, but they may not be inclined to continue posting about the product after using it once.

Do Understand the Contract

You and the Instagram influencers you work with should be very clear about the terms of any contract you sign. This includes the clauses pertaining to compensation. Legal gray areas can cause strife, particularly if you and the influencer have different interpretations of the relevant clauses.

Be clear about what you mean. If your contract says two percent of net proceeds, explain exactly what “net proceeds” are. If the influencer will only be paid for posts, be sure to lay out the rules around content, quality, and frequency of posts so you don’t get caught flat-footed.

Don’t Backpedal

If your contract says something, don’t backpedal your way out of it. Social media is a powerful tool, and influencers can mobilize intense campaigns of vilification if they perceive you’ve wronged them.

Instead, clarify your position and try to reach a compromise. You may need to renegotiate and revise the contract at the earliest opportunity to avoid repeating the situation. Do, however, admit an error and stand by your promises.

Do Pay on Time

While late may be better than never, it won’t endear you to many Instagram influencers. Some may be more patient and understanding, especially if your circumstances warrant it. Few, however, want to wait months on end to receive compensation.

If you follow these tips, working with Instagram influencers can be a wonderful and rewarding experience.

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