Should you compensate influencers for adding value to your brand?

A question that John Lynn and I get often is whether it’s OK to pay influencers for promoting or defending brands. Harvard Business Review recently published a great blog post on this topic: “Yes, Marketers, You Should Pay Your Influencers“. It made some very good points:

  • Don’t underestimate an influencer’s power.
  • Look for influencers who actually like and use your products.
  • Don’t fake it.
  • Compensate them.

The most important part of the post included this advice:

Our research explores the different ways influencers are being rewarded and how they want to be rewarded. Whatever compensation you choose — money, free products, discounts, etc. — should align with your objectives, make good business sense and meet your influencers’ stated expectations. For example, if you want to run a simple sampling campaign for a new product, prelaunch access is typically all you need. Your influencer receives the product before anyone else along with a request from you that he/she test and review it. On the other end of the spectrum, if you’re seeking a production-quality video from an influencer with great reach and resonance, you can work with third parties like BlogHer or Sway Group (and many more) who have established pre-negotiated rates with “famous” influencers.

When you compensate influencers you make it clear that they’re valuable. Some influencers won’t take money but they might accept gifts.