On the account of the racial reckoning of 2020, companies and marketers appeared more willing to work with Black influencers and be involved in conversations about inequity, a report by Bloomberg BusinessWeek found. The report also revealed that white influencers who are popular on social media tend to make more money than Black influencers. It also highlighted that Black influencers participating in creative work that was later appropriated by white people got paid more, quoting interviews from different influencers. Some of these black influencers also stated that sometimes they were given products from brands instead of cash payments for their work.
An example is the story of 22year old Sydnee McRae, a black influencer who has more than 1million followers on Tiktok, most of whom took interest in her account after she created a “viral “ dance video that choreographed a dance to “Captain Hook “ by Megan Thee Stallion. This video resulted to a $700 deal with the Universal Music Group to aid rapper Lil Tecca ‘s “Out of Love”. A white influencer ,Addison Rae Easterling was paid thousands by the rapper to just emulate it. Even though ,Addison has more followers than Sydnee ,totalling more than 78million ,but white influencers with smaller followings usually make $5000 for dances . Sydnee McRae is still getting $500.
The inequality goes against the meritocratic promises of the social media platform where apparently anyone can get famous and leads to disadvantages for Black creators in a market worth $10billion each year reported Bloomberg business insider.
Another example of this bias in the influencer industry is the story of Rachel Duah who realized she was being ripped off because of a PR admin error. Rachel Duah is a content creator. A PR agency contacted her to offer gifted products in exchange for Duah creating different content for them. When the influencer enquired about payments, looking at the fact that the work being asked of her to create would take an entire day to produce and freebies were not enough to cover the effort she would put into creating that type of content. But there was none, she was told. This led Duah to decline the offer. Moments later though, an email addressed to a different influencer was mistakenly sent to her on behalf of the same brand and company. This time, there was a fee involved and when Duah checked the influencer’s profile, they didn’t have as many followers or a high level of engagement as she did. She also realized that the influencer was white.
Being a content creator that migrated from Tumblr to Instagram in 2011.It took a further six years until she was able to monetize the luxury fashion and beauty content she produced under the handle @cocoaama. She revealed that after the first incident ,she noticed this issue everywhere . The clue was in the hashtags. She would track “Brand activations “ Advertising speak for campaigns to raise awareness of a brand or product) and found out that Black influencers were tagging posts as #gifted”. While other influencers from a different demographic who were part of the same campaign included the tell-tale “#ad”(required by the Advertising Standards Authority for advertisements) to their uploads revealing the latter group had been paid for the same work.
Fashion blogger Nicole Ocran says that she believes brands conceal influencer metrics to excuse pay disparities without admitting that inequality can result in the difference of the numbers in the first place .
A makeup artist Wendy Asumadu on her Instagram page @editorialblk highlights the work of Black creators focusing on beauty. Pages like @influencerpaygap and @editorialblk bring to the attention of brands and social media users the bias in the pay gap present in the influencer industry.