Influencers represent a new frontier in marketing; one where brands rely on the popularity of well-known individuals within a specific niche, and then leverage that influencer’s relationship with their audience in order to reach their target demographic. But a large following alone does not necessarily equal a high level of engagement, and besides the practice of buying Instagram fans and likes is rampant. Take a deep dive into their level of engagement, organic mentions in social media (other fans and followers talking about the influencer), and their standing with like-minded individuals of importance to your target audience.

The real challenge for practices is how to decide how to compensate this new crew of wannabe celebs, which has given rise to a cottage industry of agencies whose sole raison d’etre is to connect brands to influencers and charge a fee or a percentage of the project, and the prices vary widely.

You may compensate influencers by acknowledging them, sharing links and tagging them, or offering treatments and other perks. Most people who consider themselves to be professional “influencers” want to be paid.

Because there is no financial baseline to follow, nor any standards for the price of influencer marketing, start by designating a portion of your marketing budget to spend. The next step is to do some research to find out who the right influencers are in your community or region who may be affordable to partner with. For example, a reality star may charge $10K for a single post.

Try to develop a personal relationship with the influencers you have identified, and then work out a mutually beneficial agreement with clearly defined deliverables. With the right channels and influencers, and a focus on strategy and performance monitoring, you can elevate your practice to the next level.