Have You Ever Been Influenced By A Social Media Influencer?

Sep 12, 2017
Article, Advertising, Employment

You know ‘em, you love ‘em, and you might very well know the brands and products that they advertise. Social media “Influencers” like beauty guru Zoella, socialite Kim Kardashian, and YouTube sensation Tyler Oakley have taken over social media advertising by storm. New age media has given these internet stars the platform necessary in order to promote the product that a brand or company wants them to, but did you know that this also happens on a smaller scale? The person sitting right next to you in class with 10,000+ followers could be earning money for every Instagram post in which they advertise a product for the brand they’re promoting.

Here's a good 3 minute explainer video from Forbes about what a social media influencer is. 

For most people, social media influencing is not economically sustainable because it’s not a reliable source of income (or a secure job). In some cases, the Influencer isn’t even paid in cash; rather, they are given free products or--at the very minimum--discounts from the company for their post. The “job’s” prerequisites require that you have thousands of followers on any given social media platform like Instagram or Youtube, you’re very relatable, and don’t mind interacting with people.

Additionally, being an Influencer is the epitome of modern-day instant gratification, as it does not teach young people the value of a hard-earned dollar. If a grocery stocker and a social media Influencer both want to buy the same $300 game console, they will have different outlooks on how much of their time that that game is worth. The grocery stocker will soon come to realize that at $10 per hour, the game console is worth more than 30 hours of their time. Whereas at $50 per post promoting a certain product, the social media Influencer will come to realize that the game console is worth 6 Instagram posts.

Brands and companies these days know that it’s not necessarily worth their investment to have social media famous Millennials endorse their product because trends change in the blink of an eye. For example, by the time a company has a certain amount of their product ready to ship, the popularity of that product could have gone down significantly. Many different stores have a multitude of fidget spinners available for purchase, but when’s the last time you saw someone using one? Furthermore, a recent article in Smart Brief said, “Hiring a full-time team solely for influencer marketing simply isn’t a priority for most brands; for so many, it’s seen as subset of a vast marketing mix, and dedicating the training time and monetary resources to a specialized team can feel like a large risk to take” (Smart Brief). So, all you social media Influencers out there, beware, as that revenue stream you may be relying upon may be as fickle as the product life cycle was for Beanie Babies. 


  • Have you ever purchased something promoted by a social media "influencer?" What was it?
  • What’s one big ticket item that you’ve had to work hard for (maybe through doing chores) so you could buy it? How many hours of work (or weeks of allowance) were required?
  • Why do you think companies are willing to pay people to promote their brands through their social media platforms? 
  • What do you think are some pros and cons of being a social media “Influencer” and having that as your only source of income? Why do you think job security is important?

If you liked this article, be sure to check out this PBS NewsHour Video about why teens are so fixated on brand names. 

About the Author

Danielle Bautista

Danielle is a native of Southern California and a recent graduate from the University of Maine, where she braved the frigid winters—a feat in and of itself—and earned her Bachelor's degree in International Affairs. She has a passion for working with non-profit organizations and serving populations in underprivileged communities. When Danielle isn't writing NGPF blog posts, spearheading various outreach projects, or managing contests and flash surveys, you can find her doing some sort of outdoor activity, learning a new hobby, or cracking what she thinks are witty puns!