Marketers need to craft policies that combat pay inequality, which plagues the social media economy.
Posted: May 27, 2022
Pay inequity isn’t just an issue for employees: it’s a major issue in the social media economy, and marketers need to ensure they have fair compensation policies in place. to avoid unfair compensation practices.
For years, we’ve heard that white women earn 82 cents on the dollar, compared to their male counterparts, and black women only earn 63 cents, with other marginalized groups falling somewhere in between.
Similar pay inequalities are now visible in the social media economy through the way brands pay influencers for brand deals and endorsement posts.
The pay gap between white influencers and their Black, Indigenous and Color (BIPOC) colleagues is 29%, and women earn 30% less than men, according to a recent study by MSL and The Influencer League on the $16.4 billion influencer industry.
That’s a much larger pay gap than in many other sectors, including business, media and education.
It’s not uncommon for designers of color to be underpaid early in their careers. Blizzb3ar, a queer black micro-influencer with 28,100 followers on Twitch, said he was encouraged to accept a low salary.
“I’ve actually been told by other creators to always film at a lower price because if I didn’t the company wouldn’t be interested in me,” the streamer told SmartBrief. “Meanwhile, my white colleagues were making more money without having to negotiate or prove/show their numbers.”
The advice Blizz received was bad, especially since most brands prefer micro-influencers because their audience tends to share the same ideas and similar interests.
How to Create Fair Salary Structures
It can be difficult to ensure pay equity among influencers given their varying reach and audience. But marketers can normalize compensation based on these metrics as well as project scope to ensure that, all else being equal, influencers know they’ll be paid the same as everyone else.
Some companies work to empower and educate influencers on how much they can charge for brand campaigns. Black Girl Digital, a minority, woman-owned Black influencer marketing agency, helps influencers know their worth.
“No campaign is created equal. However, regardless of reach, we make sure influencers are paid fairly based on reach,” said CEO/Founder LaToya Shambo.
The League of Influencers is another black and women-owned business that helps creatives of color become successful content creators. Founded by Brittney Bright, the organization was crowned Ivy League of Influencers and aims to equip influencers with the tools and information they need to succeed online.
“To close the influencer pay gap, we must first start with awareness and education,” says Bright. “I wanted to go beyond just telling other black creators to ‘know your worth.’ I wanted to teach them about that as well.
A seasoned veteran of the influencer space, Bright founded the League of Influencers while working as an influencer marketing manager. She noticed that black influencers would charge significantly less than white influencers with the same social media stats and metrics. The CEO assumed they might not know the value of their content within the industry, and today his company is helping them understand that.
His courses, Mastering Monetization and 6-Week Masterclass, teach aspiring social media entrepreneurs negotiation techniques and ways to maximize their earnings. It only admits BIPOC students into the program.
Pay inequality tips for influencers
To close the pay gap, Pamela Zapata, CEO of Society 18, said underrepresented new creators should look into training courses.
“Educate yourself, research at all levels what is standard and market value,” Zapata said.
Influencers can also be transparent with each other and work together to encourage brands to adopt fair policies, Zapata added.
Transparency can help ensure fairness. “Share information with other creators within your network,” she said. “Discuss rates and basic fees on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube.”
As influencers raise awareness of the lack of fairness in their business, more brands and agencies are likely to adopt policies that will correct the current disparities in influencer compensation.
By being transparent and creating standards for how compensation works, marketers can ensure they’re treating influencers fairly and building lasting relationships that will drive results.
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