For brands who are just starting out with influencer marketing, it can be difficult to know how much of your budget to allocate for the creators themselves. Some formulas simply calculate the potential cost of an influencer based on their follower count, but that will never give you a complete picture of the expenses involved.
One of the biggest variables in your influencer marketing budget comes down to audience numbers. At Sway Group, we define influencers by the following audience size criteria:
- Nano influencers: fewer than 10,000 followers.
- Micro influencers: 10,000 to 99,000 followers.
- Macro influencers: 100,000 to 400,000 followers.
Every influencer marketing campaign is unique, and costs can be affected in a great variety of ways. However, if you assume a total influencer marketing budget of $100,000, in our experience, you can generally expect to afford one of the following campaign scenarios:
- 120 to 160 nano influencers.
- 35 to 55 micro influencers.
- 7 to 12 macro influencers.
These numbers include a paid media investment, which helps you navigate platform algorithms and amplify influencer content to your target audience. Plan to allocate 10% to 20% of your overall budget to paid media for extra visibility and engagement.
These $100,000 influencer campaign scenarios also include a range of content possibilities, all of which can have a significant impact on your budget.
Additional Influencer Campaign Cost Variables: Type, Niche, Platform
Influencer costs are dependent on the scope of the campaign as well as their individual follower counts. Start by developing a content strategy that maps back to brand key performance indicators, which will help you determine the actual campaign deliverables and associated expenses.
What to know about influencer content costs:
- Video content tends to be the most expensive, although it’s often worth the effort.
- Ephemeral content like Instagram Stories can be more affordable than in-feed content.
- Niche expertise, as well as specific demographics such as race and location, can add to an influencer’s fee, which you should weigh against their ability to deliver extremely targeted content.
- Expect additional expenses for original influencer creations such as crafts, recipes, tutorials, etc.
- Platforms affect costs by content formats in a variety of ways: For instance, TikTok is typically a more expensive platform because it’s video-based.
- Influencer livestreaming can be a less expensive option than pre-recorded content, but you may have less control over messaging.
Publishing strategies that add promotional cadence (posting content in both main feeds and stories, sharing a blog post with additional social content beyond blog amplification, sharing multiple social posts over a time period) will probably be more expensive than one-offs but potentially more effective.
There really is no one-size-fits-all list of hard numbers for determining influencer marketing campaign costs. Promotional strategies can run the spectrum from a single tweet from a single influencer to a high-volume campaign that involves multiple creators, platforms and content formats.
A common mistake made by brands new to influencer marketing is failing to factor in the work needed for planning, executing and reviewing campaigns.
For brands that are managing their own influencer outreach (either directly or via an influencer marketing platform) rather than working with an influencer agency, budgeting for influencer management needs to include internal resources. This could be one person or an entire team, depending on the scope of the campaign.
It’s also important to note that this type of marketing isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it strategy. Influencer campaigns require careful monitoring and follow-up, which can involve assigning multiple staff members to the ongoing effort.
Plan to dedicate employee resources for the following:
- Influencer discovery, recruitment and communications. This involves searching for targeted influencers, initiating contact, determining fit and interest, negotiating fees and deliverables, processing influencer invoices and sending out payment.
- Campaign brief development and sign-off. Every brand-influencer partnership should be based on a contract that clearly defines goals, deliverables, ownership limitations, exclusivity, payment dates and FTC-required disclosures.
- Campaign management. This includes ongoing influencer communications and quality assurance checks to ensure that campaign content and publishing schedules are on track.
- Post-campaign reporting. This includes collecting and analyzing the right influencer metrics to determine campaign impact. Be sure to request access to first-party social media platform data rather than relying on influencer-supplied metrics.
The more complex your influencer campaign is, the more hands-on work will be needed to successfully manage it from start to finish. However, even a relatively simple one-off with a creator is going to require time and attention, so be prepared to include those all-important internal resources in your budgeting.
Best-Practice Budgeting for Influencer Campaign Cost
The business of influencer marketing is showing no signs of slowing down: In the U.S. alone, spending on influencer marketing is expected to grow by more than a third this year. For many brands, the question is no longer whether influencer marketing is the right strategy to begin with; rather, it’s how much budget to allocate for the next campaign.
The best way to start is by clearly identifying overall brand goals and then working backward to figure out the nuts and bolts of what you want to achieve with a sponsored social media campaign.
From there, you can start making the content, platform and creator decisions that will inform the budgeting process — and ultimately drive the campaign outcomes you’re looking for.
This article was originally published on Forbes.com.