The influencer marketing sphere has changed through the years. From black influencers earning $129 per post in 2015, they now charge up to $3,000 per post. Minorities are also earning more than their white creators.
Today, Ted Murphy shares his insights about IZEA’s report on The State of Influencer Equality 2023: from the progress we’re making in providing opportunities to influencers to identifying the changes shaping the influencer marketing space.
About Ted Murphy
Ted Murphy is the CEO and founder of IZEA, a technology platform that pioneered the influencer marketing industry. Launched in 2006, IZEA has now become a Nasdaq-traded company, serving the world’s top creators and marketers.
The State of Influencer Equality report provides data to the market and helps them identify underrepresented groups. The data from the study also aims to encourage marketers to think about diverse influencer marketing campaigns when planning strategies.
Ted shares, “For us, it’s [influencer equality] making sure that influencers with different backgrounds have sponsorship opportunities to work with brands that can be based on race or gender.”
The Current State of Influencer Equality
Influencer marketing worldwide continues to grow at such a high speed that it’s expected to reach $22.2 billion by 2025. This number is more than twice the amount recorded in 2020, only $9.7 billion.
As the influencer marketing industry continues to grow, the state of influencer equality also improves. Ted says, “There’s been tremendous progress when we look at non-white influencer earnings. They continue to trend upward from 2021 to 2022.”
“Hispanic influencers’ pay has increased by 29%, Asian influencers by 23%, and black influencers by 19%. We’re also seeing that the percentage of influencer marketing deal flows going to minority influencers has surpassed their representation in the US population,” Ted adds.
Even with the progress in influencer equality, many minority influencers are still underrepresented and a bit behind the curve. Ted explains further by sharing his observations of the current landscape:
“If you think about influencer marketing and where it started, it started with white. Mommy bloggers were the earliest influencers that were getting sponsorship opportunities. And so there’s a lot more knowledge within that group in particular, which has continued to today. One of the reasons that you’re seeing non-white influencers commanding high dollars is that fewer of them are going after sponsorship opportunities.”
Some minorities earn more than their white counterparts, but Ted wants to see the numbers a little closer. Minorities making more than white creators show an imbalance in supply and demand.
Challenges and Barriers to Influencer Equality
For Ted, education and understanding are two of the most significant issues to influencer equality today. Being an influencer allows people to follow their passions and create content reflecting their interests. But people have to understand that to earn money from sponsorships, they must create brand-safe content or content that brands want to associate themselves with.
Ted gives us an example, “TikTok has produced a tremendous amount of people that were able to gather a very large following fast. But they’re struggling to monetize those followings because the type of content they create and what they’re known for isn’t brand-safe or something brands will be interested in.”
Creators should know when to draw the line between producing content that isn’t only driving tons of engagement and building fans but also makes brands feel comfortable aligning themselves.
IZEA’s Efforts On Promoting Influencer Equality
To promote influencer equality, IZEA decided to take this data from their marketplace and spread it over many different brands and creators. This level of transparency allows the world to see industry trends and how they’re progressing.
Ted shares, “When we look at the managed services side of our business, that’s more consultative and strategic with our customers, getting this information in front of them and having a discussion in the early stages of the campaigns helps them create strategies for diversity.”
These discussions are a big part of making changes to influencer equality. And according to Ted, “What we’ve been able to see is that it impacts on campaigns that we’re running, and we have some customers, who are doing a fantastic job of making sure that their campaigns represent people of all types.”
Working with people from different backgrounds is also good marketing. One of the reasons why social media has become a powerful marketing tool is because audiences have different types of backgrounds, and content creators can look at the same products in different ways.
“An 18-year-old African American female is going to talk about a laptop differently than a 60-year-old white male. Both of those stories can sell laptops, including people from diverse backgrounds. Ultimately, it winds up with more creativity in the campaign, more diverse types of content, and a connection with a much broader audience,” Ted says.
How Influencers Can Promote Equality
For Ted, influencers don’t have to necessarily promote equality themselves. The most powerful thing they could do is step up, be more aggressive toward getting brand sponsorships, and not be afraid to lead with questions of equality when working with brands.
Ted adds, “It’s about putting it out there and saying, ‘Hey, are you guys focused on having diversity in your campaign? If you are, I might be somebody who you may want to partner with on your next initiative.’”
One other thing people can do to promote equality is to pitch the brands to see how people from different backgrounds may promote a product or service differently than the way it’s done now. Working with creators of the same backgrounds often leads to the same content.
And this has become more prevalent today. Ted shares, “For some of the brands we work with, when we look at their content, it looks kind of the same. It’s the same type of influencers producing the content, so the style becomes very repetitive. I think that that’s an opportunity for creators to step in.”
When minorities see the type of content produced today, they can reach out to the brand or their agency and say, “Here’s my take on this” or “Here’s how I want to do it.” Most of the time, brands don’t realize what’s out there until someone else lets them see it.
IZEA’s Success Stories
IZEA worked with Warner Brothers in the past and admired how the company looks at diversity. Ted shares, “They’re not only looking at race, sex, and age, but they’ve actually taken it a step further to ensure that they’re including people with disabilities, for example, in their campaigns.”
Warner Brother’s approach helped them create fantastic content, which is a natural fit because the movies they’re making touch people of different backgrounds.
Role of Technology in Promoting Influencer Equality
What’s happening with AI in terms of visual and textual content can be a game changer for influencers. But it could also cause a lot of disruption and destruction.
“We’re having a lot of discussions internally about what happens when somebody can type in a prompt, and suddenly, they’re holding a product at the beach. It looks like them, but it’s not them. And everybody can do that on their phone. And so how is that going to change the influencer marketing landscape?”
The rise of AI will definitely pose challenges to influencers, especially in differentiating themselves. And since this everybody has access to this technology, it won’t be long before it’s going to be the “wild, wild west” out there.
Influencers who want to change the landscape will likely start experimenting with AI in a way that’s super transparent with their audience. But the AI revolution is coming, and influencers who aggressively play with this tech and spend time experimenting will wind up in a good place on the other side.
Future of Influencer Marketing in Promoting Diversity and Inclusion
Ted sees the prices across different groups of influencers will start to normalize in the future. The gaps between different groups of influencers will shrink a bit more in the years to come.
Ted adds, “We’ve also seen the prices of posts across the board continue to go up every single year. There hasn’t been any sort of leveling out that we’ve seen yet, and that can’t go on forever. So at some point, we will see the cost of posts start to level for everyone.”
Ted also mentions that creators have the opportunity to be more aggressive on pricing and use it as a way of establishing relationships with brands. Brands are looking to save money by cutting off marketing budgets. But instead of looking at this as a hindrance, creators should use that to foster relationships.
Ted explains, “Brands are trying to save money right now, looking to get more bang for their buck. And influencers willing to trim their prices a bit and be more proactive in reaching agencies and brands will be the ones who establish and build relationships.”