Does the Gender Pay Gap Apply to Instagram Influencers?
Social media: the place of opportunity, success, and… money-making has long surpassed the days of motiveless chit-chat, and the innocent look-what-I-ate-for-lunch. YouTube and Instagram are now notable business juggernauts used by savvy marketeers, led of course by influencers: the pioneers of the modern, digital world who, one would suppose, can be anyone from anywhere, limited least by gender…
Alas, though an influencer’s power is inferred literally within their title, recent news, from marketing websites and Twitter, suggests this power is not yet entirely immune to what should be archaic prejudice. It seems in an ever-evolving society that prides itself on liberation (think the BBC’s revelation of over 100 different genders), modernity is still not aligned with its theoretical egalitarian ideals. To put it simply, gender discrimination is still prevalent, and in an industry where gender is intrinsic.
Yes. Sadly, we are talking here of the notorious Gender Pay Gap between male and female influencers. With no set rates or regulations regarding influencer pay, this Gap is worryingly indicative of a backwards, at best sub-conscious, attitudinal step in what should be, holistically, a skyrocketing modern market.
HypeAuditor, an influencer analytics firm, has recently brought news to light of the Gender Pay Gap on Instagram, an unfortunate continuation of recent years. HypeAuditor polled 1,600 influencers across 40 countries to reveal influencer earnings according to audience level, and… gender. Despite 69% of respondents being women, and 31% men, an equal number of male and female influencers were found globally.
The results are rather alarming: on average, male Instagrammers receive 7% more than female Instagrammers, the Gap rising up to 30% alongside the influencer tier (micro up to celebrity). Posts by men bring in an average of $1,411. Posts by women, $1,315. For the record, the UK’s current National Gender Pay Gap is 8.9%*.
Even worse is the Gap for Instagram Stories: a staggering 27%. Male influencers will earn $809 on average, whereas a woman will earn $633. Small micro female influencers (5K-20K followers) are the only exception in this category. The data for Instagram posts, Stories and videos combined – shows the Gap to be further pronounced at 49%.
For now, the Gap remains largely unexplained; a potential objection such as absenteeism e.g. maternity or sick-leave is an arguable scapegoat, especially in lieu of the Mommy vlogger community. A semi-palpable theory is that with more competition among female influencers (77% of the community – 50.5% being Instagrammers), their average price decreases. Men, as a relatively scarce resource (49.5% Instagrammers) can charge more. However, as HyperAuditor’s figures show for Instagram alone, the 1% disparity of the community does not correlate with the disparity of the Pay Gap. Furthermore, fellow analytics firm, Klear, exemplified through a 2018 survey that this disparity extends to the wider influencer community, namely across YouTube & Facebook. YouTube has the largest disparity at 38%.
Recent estimates of the global Instagram influencer market are set to reach $2.3 billion this year. One hopes audiences and marketeers will be influenced enough to hold to this accelerative industry, and not let it hold steadfast.
*based on average hourly earnings, as calculated by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).