Influencer Series, Part III: Paid Influencer Campaigns

Influencer Series, Part Three

See part 1 here and part 2 here

Last week we dived deep into the world of unpaid influencer campaigns. What we learned is that for smaller companies, and especially startups with a product-centric business model (as opposed to, say, a service-based one), running an influencer campaign by giving away free products and discounts is a great way to quickly spread your brand’s market presence and potentially accelerate revenue.

However, unpaid influencer campaigns have their risks. For one, controlling the quality of the influencers’ content is much more difficult, and sometimes impossible. Although you may gift your product to influencers, unless you have a contractual arrangement with them (common for ambassador programs) nothing is stopping them from negatively displaying your brand. This risk is especially prevalent if you’re working with a product-review style influencer.

Another potential risk with unpaid influencers is that gauging your ROI can be more difficult than doing so with established and professional paid influencers. If your product suits a niche market, working with smaller, unpaid influencers may decrease the chances of you reaching your ideal audience because their followers may not follow them for the attribute you reached out to them for. For example, say you give your product – a whey protein shake – to a micro-influencer who works out in the gym a lot; you would assume the people following this influencer and liking his content would be gym rats, too, but maybe the influencer has a hyper-extroverted personality and has amassed a following more so on the basis of his personality than his gym routine.

To avoid risks like these, many companies turn towards paid influencer campaigns. With a paid influencer, you can control the terms of your partnership (endorsement frequency, style, and even language to an extent) and practically eliminate the chances that your influencer’s following demographic doesn’t match your target demographic. Paid influencer campaigns, though, like any advertisement campaign, have inherent and unavoidable risks – minimizing these risks often means paying more money.

In order for maximize the potential of your paid influencer campaign, you have to find the right balance of quantity and quality that suits your company’s needs and capacities. The most likely options available to you will be either to employ numerous micro-influencers (lower costs per endorsement) or employ one or two macro-influencers (extremely high costs per endorsements). Unless you have the luxury of employing numerous macro-influencers, understanding the price comparisons of various influencer levels is crucial for planning your campaign. According to DIGIDAY, here are the average going rates for influencers these days:

Instagram posts:

  • $1,000 per 100,000 followers
  • $250 per post for influencers with less than 50,000 followers.

Snapchat stories:

  • $500 for 1,000-5,000 views
  • $1,000-$3,000 for 5,000-10,000 views
  • $3,000-$5,000 for 10,000-20,000 views
  • $5,000-$10,000 for 30,000-50,000 views
  • $10,000-$30,000 for 50,000-100,000 views


  • Roughly $2,000 per 100,000 followers
  • For YouTubers with more than 50,000 subscribers, marketers can add roughly $2,000 per 100,000 views per video, up until around 1 million subscribers, at which point a dedicated video could cost upwards of $25,000-$50,000.
  • Endorsements can run anywhere from $200,000 to half a million per video depending on the degree of incorporation.

As you can see, influencer campaign costs can quickly add up depending on the quality of the influencer and the type of platform you target. Mediums such as YouTube will inherently cost more because trying to seamlessly integrate an endorsement into one’s content requires more time and thought than post-style platforms; furthermore, due to the long-form nature of YouTube videos, viewers may be more likely to trust influencers. High-tier influencers can cost a considerable amount, but compared to traditional forms of advertisement (TV endorsements, commercials, etc.) the costs really aren’t that out of line. Low-tier influencers are considerably more affordable, but due to their higher ROI risks it makes sense to employ a number of them.

When it comes to influencer campaigns, there are three routes you can take: unpaid campaigns (high quantity, greater risk, but provides a point of entry into the market), micro-influencer paid campaigns (high quantity, less risk than unpaid, point of entry into the market), and macro-influencer paid campaigns (typically low quantity, minimal risk, but extremely expensive). And your campaign doesn’t have to stick to only one of these options, either; you could incorporate all three if you’d like. Furthermore, as your company evolves over time, so will your campaign. Though you may start with an unpaid campaign, it may make sense for you to transition to a paid campaign later on. Taking into account all these variables can be a challenging task, but if it’s done right it will be extremely rewarding.

At the Artist Evolution, we understand what it takes to create a successful influencer campaign for your business, whatever size and type. Visit our website or contact us to learn how we can help design an influencer campaign that works for you.