Why Are Influencers So Influential?

Influencers’ endorsements or recommendations can help businesses or brands expand their reach and generate new leads.

Why Are Influencers So Influential?
Charles Krupa / AP

Chances are you’ve logged into social media today. So you’ve probably scrolled past someone advertising or promoting a product, or lifestyle.  

These content generators are known as social media influencers. Influencers are typically individuals with specific niches and have a significant online following.  

They create and share content intended to inspire, inform, or just make you laugh. 

The most successful influencers are actively engaging with their audiences, and start social conversations, drive engagement, and set trends.  

Influencers’ endorsements or recommendations can help businesses or brands expand their reach and generate new leads.  

Social media influencers are generally categorized by two main tiers – micro and macro influencers. 

Micro-influencers have between 10,000 and 50,000 followers, while macro-influencers have between 500,000 and 1 million.  

These categories can be broken down even further.  

Many influencers, like Valeria Hinojosa, rely on sponsored content from companies to make a living: from posting a picture to the main feed with ‘#ad’, to sharing swipe-up links in a series of stories, sponsored content takes on many different forms.  

The former banker makes anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 per post – with an average annual income from social media of $150,000 to $200,000.  

This is known as influencer marketing – which has steadily increased since it started in 2006.  

According to Influencer Marketing Hub, the market grew from $1.7 billion in 2016, to $9.7 billion in 2020, and soared to $13.8 billion in 2021.  

Experts point the growth to popular social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube and TikTok, where influencers can post in short video formats.  

As the follower counts go up, so does the draw-in from companies and service providers. 

Numbers gathered by Influencer Marketing Hub reveal influencer marketing-related companies grew by 26% in 2021 to 18,900 worldwide.   

A study conducted by Oberlo found influencer marketing is becoming a major strategy with 93% of marketers joining in.  

Compare this strategy to, say, a billboard along a major highway. 

More than 3.4 billion people actively use social media – roughly 45% of the world’s population.  

As social media usage continues to surge, brands are focusing on embracing a cross-channel approach to implement their marketing campaigns.  

The money influencers take home depends on their content and the size of their following. 

Influencer Marketing Hub shows nano and micro influencers get paid around $100 for an instagram story, depending on their following.  Bigger influences can make a fortune.  

Kylie Jenner, for example, is a celebrity and influencer. 

According to a report compiled by Hopper HQ, Jenner charges upwards of $500,000 to $1 million for a sponsored story on Instagram.  

Business Insider found other influencers rely on formulas like charging brands $100 for every 10,000 followers.  

And sponsored content isn’t the only income generator. 

Influencers can make money on social platforms through commissions on affiliate links selling merchandise.  

For example, some use platforms share discount codes provided by brands, and in turn earn a percentage of sales.

Although celebrities are at the highest tier of influencers, they can often appear less relatable than a social media influencer who built their following exclusively through online content.  

Research shows that’s most true with millennials.  

According to Mediakix, 57% of that demographic have spontaneously purchased something they saw on social media.  

And 46% of millenials are not bothered by advertisements at all and understand ads are necessary for brands to grow. 

Pair that with Nielsen data showing that 92% of consumers trust influencer marketing over traditional methods of advertising, influencers will continue to be the gateway for brands and businesses to reach consumers.