How Do Influencers Make Money On Social Media

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How Influencers Make Money On Social Media
Illustrations by Sören Selleslagh

What if you could get paid to be on your phone? Predicted to be a five to ten billion-dollar industry by 2020, social media influencers are making great money and blurring the lines between follower counts and bank accounts.

For those who don’t know, a social media influencer is someone who uses their online reputation for advertising products or sharing opinions and experiences. But the concept of an ‘influencer’ is nothing new. For over a hundred years, celebrity spokespeople have endorsed everything from soda to acne treatment.


How Can Entrepreneurs Get In On The Action?

How Influencers Make Money On Social Media

With Instagram now at over 1 billion monthly active users, it’s safe to say scrolling has become a significant part of our lives. In fact, the average American spends almost two and a half hours a day on social media.

Whether you’re on YouTube, Instagram, Twitch, or Snapchat, brands have turned to social media influencers to get their messages across.

Look at it this way: if you have a makeup brand, it’s worth your while to partner with someone who posts about cosmetics and already has a strong and engaged following.

Katherine Gaskin is a content creator who leveraged her years of Instagram expertise to launch The Content Planner, a physical planner that helps people manage their social accounts. But you don’t necessarily have to be a social media wiz to create a following for your brand.

Katherine Gaskin; Instagram Influencer

“Even if you’re not a content creator or you don’t have a camera, you can absolutely outsource this, and there are so many great stock photographers out there now or content creators who you can hire to shoot content for you,” Katherine says .

Since her company launched, Katherine has grown her following from a few thousand to 24,000. She has a couple of suggestions if you’re getting started as an influencer: “Without getting too salesy with every single post, because that’s a huge no-no, you don’t want to be selling every single post, I like to create a cycle of captions that I can go through.”

There are three main ingredients for successful social media influencing: content that people genuinely enjoy, a healthy follower count, and, in the case of Instagram, an account that’s verified. Combine all those ingredients, add a dash of hard work, and you can pretty much call yourself an influencer.


How Exactly Do You Make Money as an Influencer on Social Media?

How Influencers Make Money On Social Media

Well, with Google Adsense anyone with a website or a channel can make money from traffic and views by selling ad space to the highest bidder. But most YouTubers don’t earn money from views alone; they sell products, merchandise, or monetize their influence in other ways.

Some Influencers earn upwards of $500,000 a year without even getting a million monthly views. That’s some serious dough. But for businesses looking to leverage the sway of social stars, you don’t always need the biggest names. Often it’s micro-influencers, personalities who have smaller and more niche followings, who give brands the biggest bang for their buck. They charge anywhere from a few hundred dollars per post to a few thousand.

But regardless of what you make as an influencer, or spend as a brand, the best tactic is to team up with someone who aligns with your viewpoints. Every internet personality is unique and will market products or businesses in their own way.

It also depends on what industry you’re in; video game companies tend to use YouTube and Twitch influencers, while fashion and lifestyle brands partner more with Instagrammers.

Since starting in 2014, Alex Tomic grew his oral care brand Hismile from 0 to 1.2 million customers and counting. Here’s what he had to say about choosing influencers: “It’s not about a number of followers. It’s someone very niche and very specific to their audiences, and they’re the ones we essentially really look to align ourselves with as much as possible. The micro-influencers will really be able to give the best context, give the best explanation and the true answer about that product, what that product means, what the brand is about and that’s what really hits home for their audiences.“

Most importantly, influencers actually move the needle; on YouTube, 30% of shoppers are more likely to purchase products endorsed by a non-celebrity blogger than a celebrity. Meanwhile, 70% of 18 to 24 year-olds prefer “peer” endorsement over anything else.

At the end of the day, these social media influencers have not only created a new job title, but a new way for businesses to turn follows and likes into checks and balances.

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