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The Age of Influencers

The internet has become increasingly developed over time, and a brand-new career known as an influencer has gradually emerged in the public eye. According to a study by Morning Consult, In the United States, 72 percent of Gen Z and millennials follow at least one influencer on social media and 54 percent of Gen Z who have been interviewed stated that they would become influencers if they were given the chance. The glamour of influencers in front of the camera leads people to believe that their lives are perfect and they are often associated with the terms “wealthy” and “good-looking.” The lavish and glorious lifestyle that they portray to their fans on the internet inspire teenagers into seeing them as their role models. However, every career has its own challenges and an influencer is no different. 

An Influencer is defined as someone who owns a huge number of followers on social media and has the power to affect the behaviours of their followers. You would be considered an influencer regardless of which platform you are popular on. For instance: Tiktok, Instagram or YouTube. Typically, their job entails collaborating with various brands or products and advertising on their behalf in order to receive the promotion charge. When it comes to different businesses, they have different charges. For example, medication and skincare items will be more expensive than clothes because they require more time to try out the products to ensure the quality of the product. As the number of influencers increases, so do the types of influencers, they are classified into 6 categories by influence marketing according to the number of followers, which are Mega, Macro, Micro, Advocates, Referrers, and Loyalists.

Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash

Most people are aware that influencers may earn from their social media accounts, but many are unclear about how this works. There is no standard answer because they do not have a base salary or a fixed monthly income. Influencers are constantly exploring and broadening their skills by trying new things in order to break through and maintain their marketing value. It's a smart option to do so since they may find their career threatened if the algorithm changes and advertisers move their attention to others. But, the most common way to generate revenue is through monetizing social media. Social media monetization such as affiliate marketing, display advertising, sponsorship and events have benefited both influencers and advertisers, ushering in a new era of influencer marketing.  Influencer marketing has become such an important component of the business strategy and is anticipated to grow to a $5-10 billion sector within the next decade. Brands are constantly on the hunt for potential influencers and allocating more of their marketing budget into social media advertising. Brands would seek influencers who would be a suitable match for their products and pay for the sponsored post. Brands tend to offer them samples of their new products to convey their brand messages and gain exposure from their target audience before the product is launched. Content creators who are active on YouTube will have opportunities to profit more than those who are active on other platforms because they get paid by YouTube based on views. However, YouTubers  do not only generate their profit based on the number of subscribers and views they gain, but also by the engagement and niche content that they get to produce. Hence, the paid membership program known as YouTube Premium also allows content creators to get extra income. The paid membership enables the audience to  watch videos without any ad disturbance. The creators are compensated based on how YouTube Premium subscribers watch their videos. 

Photo by Szabo Viktor on Unsplash

So, why does everybody want to be an influencer? Most teenagers are lured into this career path by the potential to generate money. Often times, their Instagram posts will be compensated by the advertisers once they achieve a certain number of followers and engagements. They can even get free products from brands. On the other hand, an influencer's flexibility makes people envious of their job. They don't have regular office hours, a fixed address, or a boss. They are able to work whenever and wherever they want. They can plan their own tasks based on their capabilities. Adding on, their job tasks are similar to many teenagers' interests and hobbies, such as shooting, filming, photographing, and editing; this is something they would enjoy doing. In addition, teenagers consider an influencer to be a celebrity because they share the same popularity, good looks, and job scope. Many teens begin as influencers and gradually develop into the field. For example, Kon Wen Wei, an 18 years old influencer who has 255k followers on Instagram. She stands out among countless influencers as she is seemingly young compared to other existing influencers. She frequently collaborates with various branded luxury and cosmetics brands such as Aldo, Longchamp, Mac, Shu Uemura, Calvin Klein, and others. She is also a YouTuber who always shares her daily life with her fans. She even wrote her debut single, Teenage Dream, and released it on YouTube last year. 

Photo by Nubelson Fernandes on Unsplash

Let’s take a look at the reality of an influencer. For instance: Fanny Chia, 20, a Sunway University student with 31.1k Instagram followers. Fanny explained that she didn't set out to be an influencer; and is someone that enjoys taking photographs and sharing her daily life on social media. In April 2020, she began to gain popularity based on her postings and gained 10k followers. At first, she didn't give it much thought. However, eventually, she began to manage her social media accounts on a more regular basis, while interacting with her followers. It was from there that she started receiving advertising projects. After a year, she eventually gained another 20k followers.  Fanny mentioned that she enjoys whatever she is doing now and also hopes to push herself to try posting new content, such as makeup tutorials on platforms like YouTube and Xiao Hong Shu.

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

Moving forward, she aims to upload videos on TikTok weekly. However, due to the whole covid situation, there has been more restrictions when it comes to producing quality content. It takes longer for her to achieve the outcome she desires, hence making it difficult for her to achieve a balance between her work-study life. All in all, the biggest problem that she often encounters is hate comments. She received a lot of criticism because of her personality and good appearance, but she has found out that the best way to deal with it is to focus on the positive aspects of her life and remember those who admire and adore her. Before she became involved in this industry, Fanny believed that being an influencer was a knowledgeable and creative career. However, she soon discovered that there is bad in everything good. And since every influencer has an impact on the general public, their words and actions will influence the general public's imitation. As a result, they must always hold accountability for their words and actions. As more influencers and negative news becomes more prevalent, netizens are becoming increasingly disillusioned and hostile towards influencers.

Photo by Melanie Deziel on Unsplash

Influencer marketing is undeniably popular in this generation and has significantly impacted our everyday lives. They have a powerful effect on their audience in a variety of ways. This effect extends to our purchase decisions on clothing, household appliances, and vacation locations, as well as our attitudes about a variety of life concerns. This opportunity has enticed many people to express their opinions in such a vast digital world, allowing them to gain popularity and profit.

By: Adrena Lee Sin Sian


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