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Everything You Wanted to Know About Being a Social Media Influencer (ft. BowTiedWhiteBelt)
How much you can get paid (based on your follower count)
For today’s post I decided to cover an area that is slightly different from the affiliate authority site content I normally write about. Social media influencers can make huge money from the brands that they partner with. I think it’s important for any affiliate to understand how the online marketing world works, even if it’s something different from what you’re working on. BowTiedWhiteBelt works in the ad tech industry and was kind enough to do a writeup explaining how the social media influencer game works. If you have any questions feel free to ask him on Twitter.
$13.8 BILLION - the 2021 ad spend on influencer marketing. In April 2020 global ad spend went off a cliff, with almost every channel down that year. The channel to increase? Influencer Marketing. Everyone was stuck at home spending hours daily scrolling the apps - following people they liked. The smart brands figured it out, and influencer marketing actually grew mid pandemic. As affiliate marketers developing an online presence with followings on social platforms YOU can be an influencer - grabbing yourself a slice of the rapidly growing influencer marketing pie.
Who am I to tell you how? I’m the head of a data org in ad tech which specifically includes the influencer marketing campaign data.* Let me tell you how much of your time it’s worth.
*I mostly work in US and European campaigns. As a rule of thumb, Europe is 2 years behind the US. Asia I’m sure is a whole other animal I can’t speak too.
Today there are 2 platform kings for influencer marketing - Instagram and TikTok. There is money as well in Twitch and YouTube, but those platforms tend to be more niche. When a big brand wants to activate influencers, they’ll do so on a campaign basis (the typical agency model). They’ll define the specifics of a strategy, channel, size of influencers to work with, and total volume of content to be produced. These campaigns can be one off, or recurring - think ambassador programs.
Within the realm of influencer marketing, there’s two dominant models of execution to which the companies with the biggest bags work - Self Service and Full Service. There are a ton of moving parts that need to be managed, and if you are activating 300 nano influencers who all need direct communication and organization - the easiest approach is to pay someone else to handle everything in a “Full Service” model. Full Service is the more expensive option, so downstream in the industry exists “Self Service” tools for brands that manage campaigns themselves. Self Service tools usually entail a database of “Influencers'' who are open to participating in campaigns plus communication management. (As is common with advertising industry shenanigans - you commonly get Full Service agencies white labeling Self Service tools regularly.)
Most important for you to understand as affiliates is the concept of tiers. Industry wide influencers are categorized by the size of their followings into distinct “tiers”. Influencers are typically paid linearly according to their qualifying tier, and brands will specifically target select tiers and platforms as part of a campaign strategy. (IE. Let’s activate 200 Micro influencers on TikTok). Understanding this concept will help you both better communicate as an “Insider” and negotiate your pay.
*Directional Breakdown of money for Instagram Campaigns. This can drastically change depending on the campaign/industry/mechanism of hire. (Sourcing Confidential)
Follower size: 1-10k
Low end base rate: $100.00
Typical campaign: $500
Follower size: 10-50k
Low end base rate: $500.00
Typical campaign: $2,000
Follower size: 50-500k
Low end base rate: $2,000.00
Typical campaign: $10,000
Follower size: 500k-1m
Low end base rate: $10,000.00
Typical campaign: $20,000
Follower size: 1m+
Low end base rate: $25,000.00
Typical campaign: Drunk Money
Whether Full Service or Self Service, somewhere in the chain will be a 20-something recently graduated sorority girl responsible for engaging with you to manage the process. If you demonstrate you understand the biz and won’t act out of line, these gatekeepers will be more likely to get you hired into campaigns. These sorority girls are super critical. They recruit you, vet your content, confirm you posts, and are generally responsible for you as the influencer to execute on what you signed up for. Proving you can play nice with these girls will go a long way. As is human nature, the people who find and vet influencers for brands LOVE going back to the same people whom they worked with successfully before.
Each year more and more verticals are getting involved with influencers though it’s very much a bread and butter strategy for aesthetically focused industries (see the list below). A recent trend of note is big tech is going HARD in the industry. They’ve learned influencer marketing is the way to go for brand awareness, and are acting accordingly. This is what has me bullish in the space - the biggest money players are getting involved - they just typically outsource the work to other companies for execution. (Why hire people full time when you can outsource and cut whenever you want.
Top 5 verticals by post volume on Instagram in 2021 (Sourcing Confidential)
Want to get involved? With exception of YouTube, I’d highly recommend NOT using the Social Media Giant native programs, as they have little incentive to get you paid. I view these more as “PR” programs so the companies can say “See, we pay these creators and are not just totally profiting on Terabytes of free content creation (lol).” See https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/tiktok-faces-creator-backlash-over-flawed-payment-models/617693/
Where you’ll make the money is getting into the networks of Full Service agencies and having a presence in the databases of the Self Service tools. Armed with the information of what vertical you’d work for what tier size you below, I recommend the following approach:
Sign up for all Self Service tools so as to be present in their databases
Contact all Full Service agencies, and either sign up for their platform if applicable, or ask how they recruit/vet to get into their network
Stalk specific brands that and see if they are activating influencers, then pitch yourself via DM, telling them what Self Service/ Full Service tools you're present on (Social Proof and Brands very regularly will bring influencers they like with them even when contracting out the work.)
Generic List of Full Service Agencies - https://influencermarketinghub.com/top-influencer-marketing-agencies/
Generic List of Self Service Tools - https://influencermarketinghub.com/influencer-marketing-software/
If you’ve done the work to have a presence in a given industry on the platforms that are influencer marketing friendly, you absolutely should get involved in influencer marketing. The pay is only going up, and the industry itself its exploding. We’re approaching a day where it will be a tool in every CMO toolkit to bring awareness to the brand. I’ve personally looked at the data, and I am a bull bull BULL.
Want to learn more about Product Management as a career, tech, and startups? Give me a follow @Bowtiedwhiteblt. Product Managers make engineering money, but without the requirement of technical skills. It’s the ideal for a remote friendly high paying career needed to fund your journey into the jungle while you build up your business.
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