Paying influencers is not necessarily wrong (see 8 Rules to Paying Influencers). Just keep in mind it’s really a paid endorsement and not influencer marketing.
The influencer service agency I helped found called ApexDrop, focuses on the trade collaboration space, meaning we generally help brands send gifts as compensation rather than paying cash up front. We do this because it’s an affordable and authentic way to build a relationship with an up-and-comer or prosumer. The biggest drawbacks to this method is there is much less brand control with the content produced (hence the authenticity!) and it is much more difficult to setup and maintain these relationships.
The average influencer in the Maven category charges $6,000-$10,000 and the Celeb tier is typically custom priced. With the recent onset of fake followers, and with no real pricing standards in the industry, it’s hard to know whether you can realistically get ROI (return on investment) or ROR (return on relationship) from these investments. The sweet spot is to find hungry and passionate influencers that can’t wait to connect with your brand. After all, you can help them grow too.
… aligned micro-influencers will cross promote organically …
BONUS: Unlike higher-tier influencers, where the relationship is based on money alone, aligned micro-influencers will cross promote organically and continue to work with you when they love your product. That’s exactly what should happen when you work with an influencer that loves your brand and loves sharing things they love with their network!