Should I pay influencers to promote my brand?

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.