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tl;dr, yes.

The world of "influencer" marketing has evolved rapidly over its relatively short lifespan. When I first started working with the early beauty and fashion bloggers and YouTubers, the concept of charging brands money for partnerships was unheard of, and the only revenue streams available were rudimentary banner ads and early third party affiliate schemes.

A decade later and being an "influencer" is now a full-time job for millions of people globally, and most industry-leading brands have cottoned onto the impact social media advocates can drive for their business.

In 2016, Twitter found that nearly 40% of Twitter users say they had made a purchase as a direct result of a Tweet from an influencer. Similarly, YouTube found that 6 in 10 YouTube subscribers would follow advice on what to buy from a YouTube creator over their favourite celebrity or TV show.

So why is it that there is still so much discussion around whether or not a brand should pay for a feature on an advocate's blog or Instagram account?


But working with my brand will provide the content creator with amazing exposure

Whilst it's true that some social media talent would gain some benefit from being associated with a certain brand, or featured in a particular campaign, ultimately a contract between a brand and a social advocate should be agreed with a fee in mind. Remember that this is a full-time job for the advocate, and their landlord won't accept "great exposure" or "brand association" as payment for rent!

You chose this person because you see value in working with them, and therefore they should be paid for the value they provide your business.

But why does it cost so much? All I'm asking them to do is post a picture on Instagram

What you're asking of the advocate is so much more than just taking a photo and uploading it to their channels. For starters, most of the talent I have worked with have spent years consistently shooting, writing and editing (usually on expensive equipment and software) relevant, regular content to build a dedicated, highly engaged audience. Most of them rarely have a day of holiday as any time spent inactive on the platform of the moment is time which could have been spent nurturing their hard-earned respect in such a saturated market, and any vacation is an unmissable opportunity to capture engaging content different to what they would normally create at home.

Simply put, if you believe a potential advocate has an audience worth reaching then you should be willing to pay them for the time and effort taken to build that audience.

But I don't have much budget to pay for expensive contracts

Depending on your objectives we at Happy Cat. believe there is an advocacy strategy for every business. Not all contracts are expensive and especially when it comes to micro-mid tier social talent, your budget can be invested in a smart way to reach more potential customers through numerous less-established accounts. There are also creative ways to encourage organic engagement with your brand - an event, for example, is a great way to engage with larger numbers of potential advocates (and their audiences), but be mindful that this does not give you direct control over content created about your brand, nor guarantee you social coverage. If you want to learn more about the different ways you can get advocates excited about your brand, get in touch with us!

As with anything, there will always be people who don't get the hype, but if you're one of the millions of businesses who sees the value in social advocacy then it's time to invest. Show the talent that your business respects what they do, and start factoring in a budget for sponsored content.

- Geo, Founder and Director at HappyCat.

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