Story at a glance
- The rise of social media has led to a new type of celebrity: the social media influencer.
- As the most popular influencers can make up to $1 million per sponsored Instagram post, pursuing the job as a career is enticing to younger, tech-savvy generations.
- Survey results show more men than women feel becoming an influencer is their only viable career path.
With the rising popularity of social media came the fame and fortune of young social media influencers such as Addison Rae, Charli D’Amelio and James Charles.
Now, new survey results from HigherVisibilty show 1 in 4 members of Gen Z want to emulate these celebrities, who make millions of dollars through brand sponsorships and advertisements but are also subject to intense public scrutiny on- and off-line. Sixteen percent of those surveyed said they would pay money to become an influencer.
A total of 1,000 individuals in the United States between the ages 16 and 25 completed the survey in July 2022.
Results varied slightly by region. More than 40 percent of respondents in the West said they want to become a social media influencer, compared with 33 percent in the Midwest, 36 percent in the South and 39 percent in the Northeast.
Broken down further, data showed “41% of New York Gen Zs intend on becoming an influencer in the future, whilst 30% from [Los Angeles] also feel the same way.”
According to authors, “just 7.13% of Gen Z responded that they would not want to be a social media Influencer.”
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Social media influencers can find audiences on a variety of platforms like Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. The rise of the industry was so strong that in 2020 creators launched the American Influencer Council.
More famous celebrities can even make up to $1 million for posting a single sponsored image or video on Instagram.
When queried, the majority of respondents guessed the average yearly income of an influencer was between $75,001 – $100,000, and many pointed to free products, earnings and meeting other influencers as the top perks of the profession.
Over a quarter of individuals also said they regularly post on social media with the intent to gain followers, while 35 percent of men report caring about their follower account compared with 31 percent of women.
Notably, the survey revealed more men, at 20 percent, than women, 13 percent, feel being an influencer is the only career option for them, and 49 percent of males said they consider the path a “good career choice.” Almost one in five Gen Z members said they would quit their job to become a social media influencer compared with over 12 percent who said they’d quit college to do so.
A quarter of respondents also think there should be social media influencer training in high school.
When it comes to parents’ responses, more 20 percent of individuals felt older generations didn’t understand social media influencing, and only 8 percent reported their parents like them using social media.
Survey results showed 26 percent of respondents said they trust influencer product reviews over product page reviews, underscoring the marketing power influencers hold.
“It is safe to say that over the years, the line between ‘influencer’ and ‘celebrity’ has blurred. With influencer culture permeating the younger generations and becoming more prominent as time goes on, it is a movement unlikely to falter any time soon,” authors concluded.
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