Influencer marketing is unquestionably exploding and companies all around the world are looking to move their marketing efforts into the influencer spectrum. What some companies do not realize, however, is that there are two distinct types of influencer marketing.
What Is Paid Influencer Marketing?
On one hand, there’s paid influencer marketing. This kind of marketing involves seeking out a celebrity on social media and paying them to endorse your brand, product, or service. Paid influencer marketing can be very effective because these users have absolutely absurd amounts of followers that keep up to date with the celebrity, meaning a post endorsing a brand is going to be seen by sometimes millions of people.
What Is Earned Influencer Marketing?
The other type of influencer marketing is earned. Earned influencer marketing involves developing relationships with social media users as a means to get them talking and posting about your brand.
Both types of influencer marketing have their pros and cons, but there are three big differences between the two that companies need to know before entering into influencer marketing.
Difference 1: Price
It might go without saying, but paid influencer marketing is very, very expensive. It is important for companies to realize just how much it costs to get celebrities to endorse your brand. A single post could cost a company $230,000. It is hard to even fathom forking over that much money for a single post, but some brands find the lucrativeness of the follow amounts of these users too good to pass up.
— Russell Westbrook (@russwest44) February 8, 2017
Compare this to the practically free earned influencer marketing. The problem is, however, that big-name influencers who can get paid per post are rarely ever going to endorse something for free. This means that earned influencers are typically not going to have the massive amounts of followers that paid influencers have. The trade-off then is whether a company’s priorities lie more in cost-effectiveness or in paying whatever’s needed to get as many eyes as possible on their brand.
Difference 2: Amount of Influence
Of course, the most famous paid influencer accounts are going to have more followers than earned influencers. Conventional wisdom would say that these large accounts would have more influence than the earned accounts considering they have much larger reach.
However, certain research has suggested that this might not actually be the case. While posts by celebrities may be seen by a greater audience, smaller accounts may actually do a better job of convincing their followers to try out a product or create awareness for a brand. Companies need to decide whether they are worried about strictly getting massive amounts of eyes on their brand or getting involved with not quite as large influencers who might actually do a better job of influencing.
@MOGirlProbs The feeling is mutual. ❤
— Taco Bell (@tacobell) March 22, 2017
Difference 3: Time Commitment
The amount of effort that goes into influencer marketing differs depending on whether a company is going the paid or earned route. The paid route is the easier of the two. In order to receive a paid endorsement, companies must first find a celebrity that fits their brand, converse with their agents about how much it would cost to advertise on their page, and then fork over the money required.
Earned, on the other hand, requires a bit more time. In order to get earned influencers to post about a product or brand, companies need to develop a relationship with the influencer rather than just pay them. This means that companies need to put in a little extra effort in order to receive an endorsement – however, there are programs and services that help to alleviate a lot of this work and make connecting with earned influencers easier.
When choosing between earned and paid influencer marketing, it is important for companies to know that they differ in terms of how much effort needs to be put into each. Although it takes more time to earn influencers, as mentioned above, there are some pretty strong pros to entering earned influencer marketing as opposed to paid. The decision to be made is whether or not the company believes the slight amount of extra work is worth the benefits of earning influencers.