BOULDER, COL: Brands seeking to use online influencers to sway consumers need to ensure they are ready to pay for the privilege as well as being aligned with the readership of those individuals and their own personal branding.

GroupHigh, a Colorado-based provider of blogger outreach and influencer management software, surveyed 5,000 influencers in its network and found that almost 85% of influencers accepted payment for posts; just 11% didn't accept payment while 4% would only accept products.

Fully 70% preferred monetary compensation on a per-post-basis, with 11% opting for free products; alternatives such as affiliate partnerships (4%) or running ads on their blogs (4%) were very much a minority choice.

The survey further found that the average cost for a sponsored post is between $200 and $500, but brands may have to increase their outlay: three quarters of respondents either weren't sure if what they were getting was a fair payment (31%) or thought they weren't getting enough (44%).

Two thirds of influencers were geared up to justify their demands. Over half (55%) sent brands a media kit, while 14% offered a screenshot of their Google Analytics. One in five (20%) simply sent brands links to their social channels while 11% said they wouldn't offer any supporting evidence in this regard.

It was also evident from the survey that influencers were fully aware of the line between sponsored and organic content, and the risk they ran of alienating their readership and audience.

When done transparently, most influencers (70%) reported that content labelled 'paid' or 'sponsored' did not affect how much a consumer trusted their brand recommendation.

"While some of the results were expected, there were some surprising answers in the surveys," noted Andy Theimer, founder and CEO of GroupHigh.

"There's a fine line between authentic content and fair compensation," he added, "and brands need to build long-term, mutually-beneficial partnerships with their communities and their influencers."

As well as integrating paid campaigns into organic campaigns, GroupHigh advised brands to look beyond traditional influencers into "the new audiences that will fit the brand identity".

Data sourced from GroupHigh; additional content by Warc staff