In years gone by, the holy grail of marketing was celebrity endorsements. The process went a little like this- the PR reps of the fashion brand contacts the PR/publicist of the celebrity and would then ship over a selection of the range with the hopes that the celeb may wear it at an event or be papped in it walking the streets. The product may then be shown in a few glossy mags if the celeb is big enough.

Fast forward to 2017 and the process is much more organised. Designers or retailers simply email a list of thousands of “influencers” who have amassed followers thanks to their good looks or enviable style. Gaining their email addresses is as simple as checking out their Instagram or Facebook profile or popping them an inbox message on the social media outlets. Emails are then exchanged and a price for a single post is agreed upon. The influencer then posts the image and tags the brand. Their followers see the image and hopefully follow the brand tagged in the image because, well, if the Insta famous celeb has the cool dress, then they must have the cool dress.

It’s a relatively simple exchange and can be carried out in a matter of days and because it’s a business transaction with real life money swapping hands, the influencer is guaranteed to publicise the product.

Instagram has been the catalyst to democratising this entire process. Prior to social media, only brands with huge marketing and PR departments could gain access to celebs. Now, the playing field has shifted as influencers aren’t only A-listers, but could be the pretty popular girl at the local high school. This girl won’t have a publicist so will be happy with any exchange- be it $50 cash or a bunch of free products. This in turn allows the smaller brands and retailers to get their brand out there for very little money.

So, what should you be paying per Instagram promo shot?


1-10,000 followers:

No money should be exchanged, however these up and coming Insta famous stars are usually happy to exchange a post for free product.

10,000-20,000 followers:

$50-$150 per post depending on engagement (we’ll cover that soon).


20,000-50 000 followers:

$100-$300 per post


50,000-100,000 followers:

$250-$350 per post


100,000-500,000 followers:

$300-$500 per post


500,000-1,000,000 followers:



1,000,000+++ followers:

$Anywhere from $1000- 1 million dollars (if you want Kylie Jenner repping your product)


Now, buyer beware:

Many of these “Insta famous” stars will have purchased fake followers and/or likes for their profile.

Buying followers is an extremely simple and cheap process, which is why so many of them do it. For example, an Instagram user can purchase 10,000 new followers for about $10 AUD. These followers are however, not real. They are fake accounts. It’s as easy as buying a new dress online, so it’s not surprising that so many famous wannabees do it.

But as a brand, you need to watch out that you don’t get sucked in by these profiles that seem to have 100,000 followers and are asking for $500 for a post, only to receive no ROI from that investment because no real people have actually seen your product on the model.

How to spot an influencer with fake followers:

It’s relatively simple to spot an account with fake followers or likes.


  1. What is the engagement level on the profile? Take a look at how many followoers the influencer has. For example, if she has 100,000 followers but only has 200 likes per image she posts, you can safely assume she has purchased several followers. There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to engagement, however the common sense test will guide you here.
  2. Who is following the influencer? Click on the influencers followers, scroll down a little while and start to pay attention to the profiles who have followed this influencer. If there are a heap of profiles with no profile pictures, foreign languages or profiles with no images of their own or images that are completely different to the demographic this influencer is targeting, these are also red flags.
  3. Who is liking the images? Similarly, influencers can buy likes for their images so their engagement appears to be high (to keep up with the followers they have purchased). As you do with the followers of a profile, check out who is actually liking these images. Do the accounts have profile pictures? Do they have a bunch of foreign writing or symbols as their name? Do they have very few images in their account? Do they have extremely odd or unrelated content to the demographic this influencer is targeting?
  4. What are the comments like? Comment pods are a tried and tested way of increasing engagement amongst Instagram profiles. A comment pod is where several like minded influencers comment on every new image of an influencer in that pod. They comment with things like “so great!” “great pic” “awesome” “so cute!” This is a dead give away that these comments are not interested followers or potential customers. They are either paid comments or comment pods. Either way, you wont be getting followers or customers out of these guys.

It’s also worth paying attention to the demographic of the influencer you are interested in working with.

Even if the model has high (real) engagement and a heap of (real) followers, the ROI from a bunch of old lonely men or young teenage boys who often frequent these half naked model profiles, probably isn’t your ideal demographic if you’re seeing clothing or jewellery for the 18-25 year old female target market.

Everyone is desperate to be an Insta famous celeb and be paid for simply taking selfies, who can blame them. As a brand, you need to make sure you’re not falling into the trap and paying someone to broadcast to 1000 real followers and 50 000 fakes.

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