Do influencers deserve to be paid?
Today’s blog post came about from a post which my friend Chris Lavender pointed out to me via twitter earlier today. In that article the author, Danny Brown, lays out his argument for why influencers should get paid for a brand’s use of their influence. He goes on to detail how a brand can ensure they are getting their money’s worth by using a tool/service called InNetwork to filter your audience to the core, right influencers for the brand’s goals.
The meta-headache I get from talking about blogging as an influencer and getting paid for it while hocking a brand’s tool/service notwithstanding, I actually agree with Danny Brown: influencers who actively promote your product by your request should indeed be compensated for their time and effort for all the reasons he lists. But, do influencers working on their own ‘deserve’ to be compensated or rewarded? No. Full stop. Would it be nice to reward an influencer for posting something about your product or service? Absolutely, but they don’t deserve to be compensated for something you’d not requested.
I’ve been lucky enough to have taken the easy route on this topic, though. Neither this blog nor the 3DrunkenCelts.com blog have ever been approached to publish any promoted post of any sort, so the ethical question about hocking for someone else has never been directly tested. The closest I’ve come is to receiving a Klout perk after which I wrote and published this post, and I also a flask from Angel’s Envy Bourbon as a thank you for a review I published long prior in that same year. A nice gesture to be sure, but nothing I “deserved”.
Now, call it paid or rewarded, I wouldn’t mind seeing influencers reap some benefit from their effort…. but I don’t believe they can do so without consequence. Any influential blogger or internet star runs the very likely risk of being seen as a shill and losing the trust of their audience if they were to take compensation in exchange for a promoted post or other marketing focused mention. As Danny notes in his article, trust is far more difficult to regain once lost, and is that loss worth the gains you’ll see from a simple promoted post? I doubt it.
So, go ahead and find those influencers, even go as far as to filter down to the right ones for your brand and see if any of them have been blogging about you. If you find them and you like what they’ve been saying, go ahead and send them a thank you of some sort, but don’t expect them to immediately turn around and begin shilling for you because you rewarded their prior efforts and compensating for future efforts is not something to be taken lightly.