Social Media

Study highlights racial pay gap in influencer marketing

According to research, nearly half of Black influencers said they received below-market offers, at least in part because of their race.
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We know that pay inequality is alive and well in 2021, but the details around the who, the what, and the how much can often be shrouded by lack of transparency and data. Especially in newer industries like influencer marketing. A recent study by PR group MSL US and The Influencer League looked at the compensation of more than 400 influencers in the US and found that Black creators, on average, made 35% less than their white counterparts.

Around 77% of Black influencers were classified as “nano” and “micro” influencers, meaning they have less than 50,000 followers. Within that range, annual compensation averaged at about $27,000 per year.

Compare that to the “macro” tier (50,000+ followers), where influencers typically make upward of $100,000 per year. The demographics there were found to be 41% white and only 23% Black, contributing to the divide.

But it’s bigger than that...

This is less about influencer-on-influencer competition and more about power structures:

  • Nearly half of Black influencers said they received below-market offers, at least in part because of their race.
  • And they often felt unfairly chastised for speaking out on issues that directly impacted them—59% said they felt negatively impacted financially when posting about race versus 14% of white creators.

So where do we go from here?

As with most industries, the first proven step toward pay equity is knowing what to ask for in the first place and being able to compare rates with peers in your industry. When asked what they thought would help eliminate the racial pay gap, 92% of responses brought up pay transparency.

While some states have passed laws around salary transparency, there is still a lot of gray area around contract-based or freelance opportunities—leaving most of the work to those advocating for change.

  • Based on the study results, MSL committed to creating an Influencer Pay Index to track diversity and pay parity.
  • Platforms like FYPM are emerging to champion transparency by allowing influencers to share details around brand deals, including compensation.
  • Social media platforms like TikTok have proven to be very efficient for crowdsourcing compensation.—KH
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