Influencer Orchestration Network

MSL Study Finds Racial Pay Gap In Influencer Marketing

MSL Study Finds Racial Pay Gap In Influencer Marketing

The influencer marketing pay gap observed overshadows gaps in other industries such as education, business and media.

According to a new MSL study, conducted in partnership with The Influencer League, the racial pay gap between white and BIPOC influencers is 29 percent, and when looking at the gap between white and black influencers, that figure increases to 35 percent.

In addition to the roles that affluence, connections and social media algorithms play in perpetuating inequity in influencer marketing, lack of pay transparency is the greatest contributor to the gap, the study found. When asked to identify a single factor that could eliminate the racial pay gap, 92 percent of respondents cited pay transparency.

Lack of pay transparency and lack of a pay standard reduce BIPOC influencers’ access to information or professional advice in pricing their content and in negotiations, as well as perpetuate wage discrimination. For 45 percent of black influencers, managing the financial process was listed as their most challenging pain point of working with agencies and brands versus 27 percent of white influencers. In addition, 49 percent of black influencers cited race as a factor in offers below market value.

The study also found that 77 percent of black influencers, versus 59 percent of white influencers, fall into the nano and micro-influencer tiers (those with under 50,000 followers) where compensation from brands averaged $27,000 annually.  Twenty-three percent of black influencers, versus 41 percent of white influencers, fall into the macro influencer tier (those with more than 50,000 followers), where earnings averaged north of $100,000.

While 79 percent of black influencers report feeling comfortable posting about DEI issues and 90 percent report being passionate about race, 59 percent of black influencers said they feel as though posting on such issues impacted their income negatively. And 49 percent of BIPOC influencers reported feeling negatively impacted after posting on racial issues compared with 14 percent of white influencers.

MSL has outlined its next steps aimed at closing the influencer pay gap. They include:

  • The creation of a scholarship fund for BIPOC influencers that provides 1,000 talented BIPOC influencers who have “high potential but low engagement and follower counts” with training from The Influencer League, a digital platform founded in 2019 dedicated to educating and empowering a diverse group of influencers.
  • Development and circulation of an Influencer Pay Index to determine and track all influencer pay through Fluency, MSL’s proprietary influencer marketing platform
  • Consistent tracking of diversity and pay parity using Fluency within all influencer marketing campaigns across the agency with progress reports published annually
  • A call to action for BIPOC influencers to self-identify with the hashtag #diversecreators to boost discoverability and give brands and agencies an opportunity to broaden the pool of BIPOC influencer talent

As the study mentions, today the total BIPOC market holds $4.8 trillion in buying power, and 48 percent of Gen Z and 43 percent of millennials are BIPOC. This puts both BIPOC influencers and brands in a unique position to reach more audiences.

MSL’s findings are based on a study conducted between February and September 2021 among more than 400 US influencers. They also include expert interviews and findings from Fluency. Influencers in the study were asked to report their follower count, race and income from brands.