By Emily Myint
Move over Kylie Jenner, you no longer need to have millions of followers to make money off social media. Brands are now paying micro-influencers to promote their products online. For some people, this is a side hustle, for others, a full-time job.
A micro-influencer is someone who has 5,000-10,000 followers, compared to a mega influencer, like Jenner, who has more than 152 million followers on Instagram alone.
Instagram has grown tremendously in recent years, which is a main reason why this career choice has come to be in the first place. According to Pew Research Center, Instagram was the highest growing social media platform in 2018 and according to Jumper Media, there are more than 500 million active accounts on Instagram every single day.
Nowadays, everyone is consumed by online activities including scrolling on Instagram, watching videos on YouTube or posting status updates via Facebook or Twitter. Social media has become a prominent part of everyone’s daily life and a group of people have now started using it as their side hustle, and for others, their full-time job.
Simply put, social media influencers influence their followers by promoting different products and brands and have built a reputation for their knowledge and expertise on certain topics. Within the realm of influencers, there are tiers that separate the type of influencer according to Medium. That difference in micro, macro and mega influencers all come down to their follower counts.
A micro-influencer is someone on social media who typically has less followers across all their platforms, but still has a committed following. This may be seen as a bad thing to brands, who are ditching traditional paid advertisements and are now paying influencers to promote their products and are specifically looking at the follower count.
Although micro-influencers have less followers, brands have recently chosen to work with micro-influencers due to their relatable and trustworthy personalities and the fact that their endorsements seem a lot more genuine and authentic, according to Business Insider.
Sophia Liu, Influencer Community Associate at the InfluenceHer Collective, believes that micro-influencers are necessary in this new social media age.
“I think they are the real MVPs,” Liu said. “They are more in tune with their audience and they are more in tune with the kind of content they create.”
Influencers can make anywhere between $50 and more than $50,000 per post depending on their follower count, engagement rate, content quality and much more. The money is just one reason why people want to become an influencer.
An influencer’s role in social media
Influencers make regular posts on their social media accounts about certain topics which then generate large followings of people who pay close attention to their views. Many influencers find that they want to be a role model for their followers, and it may be difficult to find the genuinity.
Influencer Kayla Compton (@itskaylahere) says that influencers are more likeable when they are real and genuine and can show their true self. Compton is 22 years old and creates most of her content on Youtube where she focuses on weekly vlogs about life post-college.
“I think when creating content online you really have to come from a genuine place,” Compton said. “Doing it for fame or to earn a bunch of money is not gonna get you anywhere, it’s going to become very apparent to people watching your videos and you’re just not going to enjoy it.”
There is great responsibility in being an influencer, in which younger audiences are looking up to these people. Whether it be products, events, people or brands they are promoting, influencers have the power to impact hundreds of thousands of people.
The growth of influencer marketing
Since 2015, the influencer market has grown tremendously and is projected to be worth a 6.5 billion dollar business for 2019 according to Influencer Marketing Hub. With more people pursuing influencing as their side hustle or full-time career, brands are realizing how simple it is to promote their products via influencers. They have also realized the value micro-influencers bring due to their engaged and loyal audience.
Andrea Cordova, Social Media Manager for Sunday Scaries and FOMO Bones, says that influencer marketing is a big part of those brands.
“Both brands that I manage on social media have grown tremendously just from our influencers promoting our products,” Cordova said. “Without influencer marketing, we wouldn’t have grown as fast and we wouldn’t have seen such great success with our products.”
As influencers continue to thrive on Instagram and other platforms, brands have more and more opportunities to be seen by potential customers.
Why brands need micro-influencers
According to Liu, brands need micro-influencers because they care. The market of influencers especially on Instagram is heavily saturated and it’s becoming harder and harder for people to stand out. Micro-influencers use the tools that they have to make a name for themselves on social media, which is one of the reasons why Liu says micro-influencers are as important, if not more important than macro and mega influencers.
“We want influencers who care about what they are promoting, who care about their audience and who care about what they are putting out there,” Liu said. “Even if their following is small, even if they don’t have millions, they still hold some weight for their followers. And that personable, relatable content that they continually put out will ensure that whatever brand they’re promoting they can see some sort of return on that promotion.”
How influencers generate revenue
One of the most highly asked questions that people have about influencers is, “How do they make money?” And the answer is simple. Sponsorships and paid brand collaborations.
A bracelet company called Pura Vida Bracelets was one of the first companies to start a brand ambassador program. This program gives influencers of all sizes to earn an affiliate link which they can share to their followers to gain commission on the sales that they bring in. Compton is a Pura Vida Bracelets Ambassador and has earned a great deal of revenue from her Youtube videos showcasing the bracelets which have over 34,000 views.
“I really like being an ambassador because it’s kind of on me to support the company and to just share my love for the company,” Compton said. “I started out as just a customer and then now being able to just share it and make a profit off of it is fun and it just encourages me to share the brand more.”
Other than being a brand ambassador for Pura Vida Bracelets, Compton has also had different brand collaborations where the brands reached out to her for free product.
According to WebFX, Instagram Influencers typically charge an average of $10 per post per 1000 followers. So an influencer with 10000 followers could potentially charge $100 per post.
A new career choice
Due to the growing popularity of influencers, some people are considering this as a career path. Taylor Mikkelson, a 22-year-old San Diego resident, has looked up to various influencers for years and is looking to become a social media influencer.
This new career path option has grown so popular that it is the second most popular career aspiration among those between the ages of 11 and 16, according to an Awin study.
Mikkelson said she wants to become an influencer because she has a lot to share about her life and her experiences.
“I feel like I have a lot to say and a lot to share because I’m the type of friend that will send people stuff about sales from brands like Starbucks and Sephora,” Mikkelson said. “So I’m already doing that kind of stuff with my friends and in real life, so I feel like I’m already doing this so why can’t I do it for Instagram too?”
Mikkelson also says that it would be cool to know that people could be listening to her on a social media platform like Instagram, instead of just her friends in real life.
“I feel like that would just be so cool to have people, like, listening to you and caring what you say and actually valuing your opinion,” Mikkelson said.
Can anyone do it?
The keys to to becoming a successful influencer are learning how to create content and promote yourself as a brand, according to current influencers and social media managers.
The market of social media influencers is growing constantly and more people are jumping on board for a chance to earn money by posting pictures or making videos.
If you want to know more about becoming an influencer and joining the InfluenceHer Collective, visit https://www.influencehercollective.com/influencers for more information.
All photos by Emily Myint