Influencers are essential to a successful youth digital strategy. As the second-largest influence on young audiences, they increase awareness and conversion rates among kids (under 13) and Young Teens (under 16) by helping brands connect with audiences through authentic and relatable content. But it can be difficult for companies to know which types of influencers they should work with, or how to find influencers with matching values that can create safe and compelling content. 

Keep reading to learn about the differences between paid and earned influencers, ways to leverage both in your influencer strategy, and how to safely navigate the extensive talent pool of kids and family influencers. 

What is the difference between paid and earned influencers? 

The primary difference between paid and earned influencers is that paid influencers are contracted by brands to promote a product or service, while earned influencers are gifted products by brands in exchange for content endorsements. Paid influencers are typically high-profile personalities who have already amassed a significant following, where earned influencers can have either a big or small following.

Why is it important to leverage both paid and earned influencer content in youth engagement strategies?

Each type of influencer partnership offers its own strengths.

Paid influencers offer more control and wider reach

Working with paid influencers empowers you to fully manage the end-to-end content creation process and campaign timeline, from ensuring that the content is safe, compliant with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) standards, and aligned with your values to selecting the launch date. Paid influencers also reach a wider audience, which helps to catch viewers’ attention and increases brand exposure. 

Earned influencers offer the most relatable content

Even though they may have smaller platforms, earned influencers are often perceived as the most relatable to viewers. This authenticity helps build strong connections with their followers, and we have found that this leads to higher engagement rates. Additionally, because up-and-coming influencers have more time to respond to comments and direct messages, they are typically able to build stronger bonds with their audiences. 

The benefits from each type of influencer complement one another and together provide the most holistic approach. Strategically using paid and earned influencers together will give brands both wide exposure and high engagement.

How can brands maximize influencer content?

Whether earned or paid, great influencer content can go further through repurposing and amplification. This content can be used to populate your owned channels, including your website or social platforms, to give your brand a more authentic voice. Additionally, influencer-led content tends to outperform regular advertising and can be repurposed across your media buys.

3 best practices for creating paid and earned youth influencer content 

Developing a safe and effective youth influencer strategy can be difficult to navigate. We’ve highlighted some of our best practices to get started creating engaging influencer content for kids and Young Teens: 

  1. Be authentic: Authenticity matters to young audiences. When working with influencers, ensure that the creators you partner with have natural synergies with your brand. Share creator content that feels genuine and aligns with your ethos.
  2. Choose talent carefully: Working with inappropriate talent puts your brand at risk. It is critical to review the content and channels of the creators you work with to ensure appropriateness for your target audience. 
  3. Clearly disclose paid partnerships: Make sure that paid influencer content is clearly identified as such with an #ad or #advertisement disclosure. Failing to clearly indicate paid or gifted relationships can damage your brand’s reputation and incur fines from the FTC or ASA.

Where can brands find kid-safe influencers? 

Influencer partnerships are essential to an effective youth digital content strategy, but choosing the right talent can be complex. SuperAwesome Creators can help brands find the right paid and earned influencer partnerships to create safe content for their target audiences.