Is influencer marketing pricing as easy as simply finding your influencer and using an Instagram influencer calculator to calculate how much you should pay them?
If only influencer marketing was that simple!
Nobody questions the value of influencer marketing these days. After all, this successor to celebrity endorsements and user reviews has a proven track record for great ROI in influencer marketing. However, the fact still remains that it is difficult to know how much you should pay an influencer. Like so many other professional services, prices vary widely even for similar campaigns.
In response to this problem, there are several approaches to pricing that have emerged. One of them, of course, is paying the influencer’s fee. However, this only works well with influencers that are well enough established to have fixed prices for services. Giving away product is a similar approach for beginning influencers. However, both of these approaches are often inappropriate.
For a more scientific approach, many people suggest an Instagram post price of $100 for every 10,000 followers. I talk about this in my book The Age of Influence, and why the approach may not be appropriate. There are other simple models, as well.
The latest innovation in influencer pricing is the development of an Instagram influencer calculator. Nowadays, there are at least nine of them that I discovered, and I am sure there are many more.
As you will see, as is true with the cost of hiring an influencer, each calculator comes to different conclusions.
The Background for a Need for an Instagram Influencer Calculator
First of all, why do we need an Instagram influencer calculator (or even more than one)? Simply put, brands are paying more money for influencer marketing than ever before. In fact, right now influencer marketing as a whole is the fastest growing area of advertising. With this explosion in growth, there are cost control issues. Who wants to pay too much for influencer marketing? Or worse, drive off potential influencers by being cheapskates? As a result, there are a lot of ways that brands compensate influencers.
Affiliate link or promo code-based commissions
Brands that want to compensate almost exclusively based on results will pay influencers using special links or codes. When an audience clicks through the affiliate link and makes a purchase, the influencer gets a commission. Arguably, this is the OG of influencer compensation. For promo codes, the influencer will share it in the post. As people make purchases using that promo code, the influencer gets a cut.
These commission-based approaches are useful because they avoid the problem of paying an influencer and not getting results. However, this doesn’t work well for brand awareness or public relations campaigns where sales aren’t a good goal. Using an Instagram influencer calculator can be tempting in these situations, because they take the number of followers and some other factors into account.
This one is the easiest way to compensate influencers, in that their services are another invoice paid out of your budget. Typically, you’ll either pay the influencer per post or campaign, with no further compensation. When we talk about paying based on the number of followers, this is usually the payment approach used. Keep in mind, tiny fixed price payments are the best way to come off as a cheapskate.
Often, influencers who are just starting to monetize will do an Instagram post for free or cheap stuff. This is really common in the beauty industry, as well as sports equipment. The advantage of this approach is that it gives the influencer a way to work with your product or experience your service at no risk to them. In addition, it helps them with content creation.
Increasingly, the FTC is suggesting that influencers only endorse things that they’ve tried. If you make an influencer pay for their own product (sometimes useful for fashion, where individual fit is an issue), you’ll need to build this into the price you pay.
Calculating the Cost of Instagram Influencers: Factors to Consider
No matter what kind of influencer marketing campaign you want to run, there are several factors to consider when pricing influencer services. This is because no campaign, and no influencer, is the same Here are some variables to consider, which may or may not be accounted for with an Instagram influencer calculator.
Quality of content produced
While it’s a given that you want to choose an excellent photographer for Instagram campaigns, not all snapshots are created equal. For instance, some influencers might prefer to use filters and a lot of photo editing, while others publish pictures closer to their natural state. These stylistic choices can make a big difference in the price of a campaign due to the amount of work required.
Size of an influencer’s following
This one’s easy to quantify, because you can look over their profiles. While you’ll want to make sure an influencer isn’t using a lot of fake followers, profiles tell you a lot about the person. The more genuine followers, the more potential eyeballs. So, similarly to the circulation numbers of a periodical, you’ll want to consider follower numbers.
Length/type of campaign
It costs more money to have an Instagram story made than to have a single frame posted. Likewise, if you’ll have this person post over a period of time you’ll need to pay accordingly.
Admittedly, this one can be harder to judge. However, you can measure effectiveness based on engagement numbers. Alternately, an influencer might have stats available that can tell you how well he or she sells things. If an influencer was found using a platform or agency, there may be some reviews or client feedback available. Past experience can also be helpful here, too.
Using an Instagram influencer calculator
Of course, all of the methods described above are subjective, with the exception of commission-based compensation. Even there, you have to determine a rate. Between this subjectivity and a flat per-thousand-followers approach stands the Instagram influencer calculator. Let’s take a look at nine of them using the results for my own Instagram tag (@NealSchaffer).
For this calculator, Influencer Marketing Hub measures three basic things: how many followers I have, the engagement rate, and my average “likes” per post. They also make a note of what my followers are interested in, which includes food, beauty, and photography. Given that we’re talking about Instagram, this seems like a pretty generic set of interests. However, I admit that I talk about food quite a bit, and that I love to post travel pictures. While I do mention my book and professional services, they’re kind of secondary. Here’s what they got for my profile.
In addition to these statistics, you will see a recommended price for a post. This Instagram influencer calculator is recommending you pay me between $96.75 and $161.25 per post. Keep in mind that a Story or series of posts would be more expensive. You should also note that there is a more advanced influencer report available, but you’ll have to sign into a third-party service.
For this Instagram influencer calculator, you can measure the expected fee for creator and business accounts. Unlike the last calculator, you can include potential pricing for a Story or multiple posts, in addition to the per-post price. This allows for significantly more flexibility, but it still doesn’t consider any pricing model besides cash per unit of content. Because of the flexibility, I took more than one screen shot. The first one assumes I’m only making one post and no Stories.
The first thing I want you to notice is the amount of data that this Instagram influencer calculator is showing. Not only does it measure my followers and engagement rate, but it compares the engagement with a benchmark. You can see that my engagement rate is a little low. However, it also talks about “estimated reach,” impressions, and total posts. My estimated price is much higher than the last one: between $246 and $342 for a single post.
If you were to use this Instagram influencer calculator for a multi-post engagement, they are roughly doubling my single-post fee. In fact, the suggested range is $493-684. This is a recognition of the fact that, other than the administrative work of dealing with a client, I will do roughly double the work for two frames as I did for one. In other words, they aren’t reducing the price for the fact they’ll get double the impressions with the same number of potential eyeballs.
With Phalanx, you don’t get much information. In fact, when you visit they call it an “engagement rate” calculator. What this means is that they give my engagement statistics, in addition to the number of followers I have. Also listed is the average number of likes and comments I get for each post. If all you want is a quick snapshot of my engagement rate (only slightly below average for my following), this one’s a no-nonsense Instagram influencer calculator.
As you’ve probably noticed, Phalanx doesn’t try to tell you how much to pay me.
On IGFace, they tell you what their Instagram influencer calculator is measuring when they determine your post price. In particular, they look at your follower count and engagement rate. Also, you should know that this calculator is intended for the influencers, not the brands. You can tell this because there are tips right on the website about how to set your price and deal with brands. Here’s my screenshot:
In this case, they didn’t even return results for my Instagram account. However, they were helpful enough to tell me that if I don’t have any followers or video posts that I should get a 5.3% engagement rate. And, I need to be paid between $274 and $496 per post. Hardly helpful.
Thanks to our friends in France, there’s a different Instagram influencer calculator to look at. Like the Phalanx calculator, this one gives my basic Instagram stats without giving a price estimate for my services.
They do display my stats a bit differently from most though: they mention how many total Instagram posts I have on my profile. In addition, my engagement rate is rounded. This isn’t a particularly favorable representation of my Instagram presence.
Like at least one of the other Instagram influencer calculators, this one’s geared towards the influencers. In fact, it is part of a blog post written back in 2017. Here goes:
Here, you’ll see a different set of statistics than some of the others. For instance, this is the first time I’ve seen a calculator mention how many people I’m following. They’re also telling me how often I post on Instagram. With this in mind, my suggested fee is between $82 and $141 per post. The lowest so far.
This one’s a freemium tool: they give you a snapshot of your potential fee, but offer the option of subscribing to get a full report. As with most other Instagram influencer calculator offerings, they look at my engagement rate and number of followers to get an estimated price.
Here, they have my engagement rate a bit lower than some of the other calculators. In addition, they don’t have a range of prices. Apparently, I should charge exactly $173. One wonders if the premium report would offer more pricing information.
Our friends in the UK are using a price per follower model and nothing more. In fact, as you’ll see from the screen shot they only talk about the number of followers I have. Engagement rates don’t seem to enter the equation.
You’ll also notice that my rate is rather low here at $87.24. Smashing!
This one’s unique in its quest for accuracy. To use the Instagram influencer calculator, I to input the number of followers I had, along with total Instagram posts, likes, and comments. Given the layout of the calculator, this appears to be an “all time” number. However, the calculator falls short because I wasn’t able to enter the numbers accurately: the maximum number of posts allowed was 1,000, while I’ve posted over 2,700 times.
As you can see, they have me charging around $360 per post. They also give me monthly and yearly averages, though it isn’t clear how many times they think I should produce sponsored content to get those numbers. And if I was to post that many sponsored posts over the course of a month or year, one wonders the hit my engagement rate and/or follower growth rate would take.
Here’s the bottom line. Depending on the Instagram influencer calculator, I got estimates ranging from just over $80 per post all the way to $496. If you use the flat rate of $100 per 10,000 influencers, you’d pay me around $150 per post. This is why influencer marketing prices vary so wildly, and why you should consider rates on an individual basis.
While Instagram influencer calculators will provide you an arbitrary result, they are based on some of the same black-box methodology that the influencer marketing industry is moving away from. At the end of the day, you will need to determine your own pricing on an individual, influencer-by-influencer basis through experience. Until you get there, use not one but multiple Instagram influencer calculators mentioned above to give you a range of pricing to consider.
What do you think – did the spread in pricing surprise you? Was what you expected? Let me know in the comments below!
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