Some years ago, when we started speaking to people about influencer marketing and our platform, we would talk about how the sector could be a little like The Wild West and how we helped brands to ‘tame’ it.
The regulation wasn’t quite standardised or agreed across all stakeholders. Brands varied wildly in how they approached and treated the influencers they worked with. Influencers, often not briefed in exactly what the brands they worked with needed, sometimes missed the mark with their content.
Influencer marketing is less like that now - maturing from The Wild West days - but you don’t have to go far to find evidence of unethical or problematic behaviour in some areas and from some sources. Even in a mature sector, people will flout ‘the rules’.
The creation of The Creator’s Union in the UK and the American Influencer Council in the US are welcome developments to further the interests of influencers, protect them from unethical behaviour and establish clear working practices for all of us who work in influencer marketing. They will, hopefully, bring a collective voice to a profession that, by definition, can be singular and isolated.
If you are a brand though, then perhaps the creation of influencer unions has created some concern. The unions value equality, fair pay, a recognition of industry standards and job security. Brands can appreciate and value those concerns as well; many are actively working internally to show those values to their workforce and audience, for example.
But brands also need to see return on investment, successful marketing campaigns and defined production in return for security and increased pay. There is the suggestion from some that influencer pay should be standardised, regardless of follower numbers or engagement rate. If this were to become true then the likely outcome is perhaps that brands, seeing a reduction in ROI from influencer marketing, would take their marketing spend elsewhere.
The solution is probably going to be a mutual middle ground that benefits everyone, as with the vast majority of labour and industry conversations over the years.
We think though, that that middle ground might already exist.
Engagement Affinity Score (EAS) and out work on fair pay, fair value and a better influencer marketing ecosystem
When we set out on our Influence Network journey, we set out to tame the wild west.
That meant addressing the very concerns that brands and unions are discussing now.
There is a way to solve them, we believe, and although there are more steps to take, we think our platform and our way of working is an ideal middle ground for influencers who are concerned about a fair marketplace and brands who are concerned about ROI.
Here’s what we do, right now, on all campaigns that go live.
Our rate of pay is set by our unique EAS calculation, which looks at follower count and engagement rate. The more successful you are in your influencer career, the higher your rate: just as it should be. There’s no other factor involved in calculating pay. The algorithm which calculates it is blind to sex, race, sexuality and any other potential discrimination factor.
Our pairing algorithm carefully works to put brands and influencers together who are ideally suited to each other. This means many issues felt elsewhere further down the line are avoided up front. Once paired, we make sure the brief from brands is perfectly communicated to influencers, so that the end outcomes work for everyone.
We don’t hide things in our T&Cs. Where we know a particular term or condition will apply to a certain campaign, we highlight it with our influencers in advance so they can make a commercial decision on whether the T&Cs as a whole are acceptable.
We talk to brands in advance about how they plan to use the media the influencers will produce. Again, this means there’s no surprises and influencers can make a fair commercial decision, based on how their creative work will be used.
The above factors leave no room for disputes, which is why we have zero clashes between our brands and our influencers. Everyone understands what they’re paying for, what they’re getting, what they need to do, what returns they will see and how everything will be used. It’s ultimate transparency, which means everyone can make a fair, commercial decision.
We’re currently building a new feature into the platform to automatically communicate media usage plans to influencers, so on submission they’ll reaffirm where their creative work will be used.
We’ve written often in the past about the importance of strong ethical behaviour and supporting influencers, as much as brands. We’re looking forward to keeping that belief at the heart of what we do and how we work and look forward to seeing how things develop within the influencer unions.
For now though, we think there is a fair way.
We believe that to be the case because we saw the Wild West and developed something that made sense for everyone who wanted a better, fairer, more transparent way of doing influencer marketing and being a professional influencer.
Written by Mike Duma
CEO, Influence Network
Influence Network is an influencer platform which identifies the most aligned micro-influencers from the entire social web, then rapidly deploy and manage campaigns at an unprecedented scale, before reporting on trackable engagement and ROI. We’re the Double-Click of influencer marketing and we’re here to solve your influencer problems. Sound interesting? Get in touch on INFO@INFLUENCE.NETWORK or 0203 918 8582