I know what you’re thinking, a social media influencer is just someone who gets free stuff and all they have to do is take a picture of it to post on instagram. Sure, that may be true in some cases, but it is actually a lot more work than you might think.
These people have mastered social media and use that skill to their advantage. Influencers have spent a lot of time developing an aesthetic and brand that people grow to trust and appreciate.
Who the fuck are these people?
Social Media Influencers are people who have developed a following of some sort that a specific brand or company wants to reach. Most people think influencers are those attractive girls who post pictures in bikinis and tag the brand they are wearing. However, these people could be anyone. This person could be your neighbor who knows a ton about cameras. It could be that sharply dressed dude you saw at the coffee shop. They're just people that have a following which brands want to appeal to and capitalize on. It could be you if you take the time to build the audience.
What the fuck do they do?
The short answer: they promote products or services to the following they have developed.
But, to be fair, they do a lot more than that. They have spent a lot of time building a very engaged audience that listens to them and makes purchases based on their recommendations. They are photographers, models, marketers, negotiators, and experts in their field. They work with these brands to figure out the best way to promote a product. They often use the product themselves which is why they promote it and endorse it.
Some influencers' jobs are easier than others. There are many people who get free clothing or accessories and all they have to do is take a picture in them. Others are responsible for providing product feedback, reviews, and to use the product and promote it to their audience.
Why the fuck do brands hire them?
With the amount of fragmentation in the media, we have basically turned marketing into the wild west. Brands are using all sorts of new tools to reach their audience. These influencers have spent a lot of time and effort building their audience and companies see the value in that.
The idea of an influencer is not new, it’s now just more available to average people instead of celebrities. Sure, there are still endorsement deals with celebrities and athletes, but the same idea is what keeps these influencers active. The difference is, these influencers promote these products in a way that is not overly obvious that it is an ad. They integrate these products into posts that they would share without having a sponsorship attached to them. This could be a shirt from X brand, shoes from Y brand and sunglasses from Z.
As mentioned earlier, the amount of products being shown to consumers on a daily basis makes it hard for brands to get noticed. Ad-Blockers, cord cutting, and peoples ability to completely ignore ads that are served to them are making it harder for brands to get their products in front of people. Studies have shown that consumers are 30% more likely to purchase something if it is endorsed by a non-celebrity influencer. Part of that reason is because these consumers don't see it as an advertisement, they see it as something they can wear or use themselves. When celebrities endorse products consumers feel like it becomes an aspirational product instead of something they can easily acquire. Influencer marketing is successful because these people are relatable to consumers.
How much fuckin' money do these people make?
Some make a lot, some make a little, and others don’t make anything. It really depends on the size of their following and the kind of influence they have over them. According to studies conducted by various companies, professors, and agencies around the world have determined that the majority of influencers don’t make enough money to surpass the poverty line in the United States. With that said, there are a select few that make well into seven figures a year. So, there is some major disparity between the top end and the bottom level of influencers.