Should you pay influencers based on performance?

If you’ve run an influencer campaign recently for your brand or been involved in any sort of blogger initiative, you may have asked yourself this exact question at some point. Performance-based influencer marketing is gaining traction outside of the industries where it traditionally took hold, such as fashion and beauty. While this doesn’t come as a surprise to those of us close to the influencer industry, since it’s an appealing option for brands, it does present challenges and, in many cases, may not be as simple as it sounds.

Why? Because performance-based marketing can inhibit the number of influencers willing to work with your brand, since branded content, especially from smaller brands, tends to not perform as well as original content. Many influencers, particularly those who’ve built their business models by selling digital real estate on their blogs and social media channels, would less willing to participate in a campaign with a brand they’re unfamiliar with in a performance-based setting. Also, the performance-based model requires access and availability of metrics and an understanding of which KPIs are truly driving your bottom line, something that, outside of e-commerce, can be difficult to pin down.

That doesn’t mean that performance-based influencer campaigns aren’t viable, it just means they’re not necessarily a better option than a traditional program that involves purchase by number of placements. This is especially true for the food and travel industries, which significantly benefit from the awareness and long-term lifespan of third-party, authentic digital endorsements over time. That’s because these types of programs, when implemented with the right strategy and partners, aren’t 100% reliant on the initial momentum and engagement generated within the first few weeks of a campaign going live, unlike their performance-based counterparts.

One reason why many brands are considering the performance-based model is the recent attention surrounding “fake influencers” and the purchase of followers. Luckily, there are several ways to ensure that you’re working with legitimate influencers who have real, validated audience members. These checks and balances typically have nothing to do with pricing and payment structures and require the implementation of detailed vetting practices. For example, we’ve integrated a three-tiered approach to combating “fake influencers” in our marketplace (check it out here) and have recently added new reporting KPIs to reinforce the validity of our programs.

So, what do you think about the performance-based influencer compensation model? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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