How much Instagram 'micro' influencers can earn for a sponsored post and when they should consider hiring a manager
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How much Instagram 'micro' influencers can earn for a sponsored post and when they should consider hiring a manager

Mae Karwowski CEO of Obviously

  • There's growing demand in influencer marketing for sponsored posts from creators with fewer than 100,000 followers. These creators offer authenticity over reach, typically drive high engagement rates, and charge lower rates than their more-famous counterparts.
  • The influencer-marketing agency Obviously works with micro and macro influencers on thousands of campaigns across its network of 440,000 influencers.
  • The company said brands, on average, pay its micro influencers $150 in cash and an additional $100 to $150 in added value from free products for a sponsored post.
  • Obviously's founder and CEO, Mae Karwowski, said an influencer should consider hiring a manager once their follower count has crossed 300,000 on social media.
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Hiring influencers who consider "influencing" a part-time gig rather than a full-time profession is becoming increasingly popular among brands looking for authenticity over reach.

Influencer marketers say these lower-follower-count creators drive higher engagement rates and are more likely to have their posts surface in-feed on social-media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, where algorithms tend to favor content from friends over celebrities.

"We're seeing some real changes and shifts in the Instagram algorithm when it comes to macro and mid-tier influencers," said Mae Karwowski, the founder and CEO of Obviously, an influencer-marketing agency that works with hundreds of thousands of digital creators. "Their reach is being curtailed in a way that micro and nano influencers is not."

Obviously is one of several influencer marketing agencies building a business around matching brands with nano and micro influencers (creators with fewer than 100,000 social-media followers). Competitor agency Heartbeat has a user base of 275,000 Instagram users with just a few thousand followers who have created sponsored posts for brands like Dunkin, Bose, and Kettle Foods.

"These are people who are actual consumers, they're actual shoppers, they're everyday people," Brian Freeman, Heartbeat's CEO, told Business Insider. They can "tell a brand story that is authentic and not mired by the idea that they see their Instagram as a monetization opportunity."

Obviously works with creators that have millions of followers in addition to its roster of small-audience influencers, but says it's often more cost efficient and lower risk to run campaigns with the latter.

"By working with 100 microinfluencers rather than one macro influencer, it's going to cost less," Karwowski said. "We're going to be able to reach the same number of people, and engagement could be potentially like five times or 10 times more than if you put all your eggs in one basket with one mega influencer post."

On average, micro influencers earn between $250 and $300 for a sponsored post

Karwowski said a typical micro influencer (a creator with between 5,000 and 100,000 followers) earns $150 in cash payment for a sponsored post plus an additional $100 to $150 in added value from being sent a free product or service.

For a macro influencer (a creator with hundreds of thousands to millions of followers), the average price for a sponsored post tends to be more varied.

On the low end, a macro influencer may charge as little as $1,000 for a sponsored post, Karkowski said. But Obviously has also brokered deals for over $100,000 based on factors like competitor exclusivity, turnaround time, number of drafts or content approvals a brand might have, how many pieces of content the brand receives, and time involved in shooting, reshooting, and editing a video for platforms like YouTube.

Macro influencers who are represented by managers are also less likely to accept free products as payment. Talent managers help influencers connect with brands and negotiate contracts for sponsorship deals either directly or through an influencer marketing agency like Obviously.

"You can get a lot of influencers who are pretty big who'd be like 'Sweet, a Gucci handbag, I'll do this.' And their manager is like, 'I can't take 20% of that,'" Karkowski said.

Hiring a manager often becomes necessary for an influencer once they've passed 300,000 followers

While Karkowski said she's noticed a trend in which influencers with 100,000 to 300,000 followers are managing their businesses themselves in order have more control over their work and a bigger take-home in revenue from brand deals, she said most creators with audiences above 300,000 followers tend to hire managers.

"Once you're past 300,000 on Instagram, you're definitely having some sort of representation, because so much goes into these contracts," Karkowski said.

"[Brands] use their standard contracts for their contracted photographers, and then all of a sudden the influencer sees that they've given away image rights in perpetuity, in any format, and they should be making a lot more money on those things," she said. "As the industry grows up, I think a lot of people are like, 'I need someone in my corner advocating for me.'"

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