We all follow them. Whether it be for fashion, fitness, inspiration, cuteness or a quick laugh, Instagram influencers clog our newsfeeds with their sponsored content and obvious aesthetic appeal. Nowadays, being a full-time “instagrammer” has become a legitimate source of personal income. Oftentimes as I scroll through my social media accounts noting Kayla Itsines’ toning tips or bursting out in laughter at The Fat Jewish’s latest celebrity meme, I find myself wondering: How much money do these social media “personalities” actually make?
According to Yahoo Finance, depending on his or her number of followers, an influencer’s price per sponsored post varies.
- 100,000+ followers charge $700–$900/ big-brand post
- 500,000 followers charge $2,000–$3,000/ big-brand post
- 1 million+ followers charge $50,000/ big-brand post
Not too shabby for a person that makes a living off of posting pretty pictures.
In fact the Huffington Post, stated that companies across all industries combined currently spend between $1 billion and $1.5 billion per year on sponsoring content on the platform. Clearly, Instagram promotion has become serious business.
What Exactly Is “Influencer Marketing”?
The Instagram platform has been a boon for online marketing. In order to adjust their overall brand strategy to accommodate the growing trend toward mobile, companies are starting to hire “influencers” that are able to display products to their large, loyal follower bases. Depending on a certain influencer’s social media beat, such as fashion, lifestyle, food, etc. a company can engage a more targeted audience, increasing brand exposure.
I would argue that an influencer marketing campaign is significantly more effective than traditional marketing strategies in that it takes advantage of the idea that when a person decides to follow an influencer, he or she most likely is doing so because he or she wants to engage in the lifestyle of that person.
Case and point being if I see my favorite social media “persona” repeatedly photographed with a certain brand, that endorsement alone will most likely prompt me to visit that brand’s website, follow/ like that brand’s social accounts, and perhaps make a purchase on that brand’s eCommerce site. Evidently, brands are taking us on a virtual journey that conveniently leads to their products’ “buy button.”
Instagram’s All-Star Line-Up
#1 Josh Ostrovsky (@thefatjewish)
At 9 million followers and counting, Josh Ostrovsky AKA “The Fat Jewish” clearly belongs in the Instagram hall of fame. Essentially, Ostrovsky’s business model entails either creating or republishing internet memes featuring hilarious, and sometimes wildly inappropriate commentary. This comedian’s outrageous antics attract offers from brands like Burger King, Bud Light, Beats, and Virgin Mobile. According to a 2015 Business Insider article (posted when The Fat Jewish maintained more than 5.2 million followers), these product placements and event appearances run at about $6,000 a pop.
For example, the Financial Times noted one of the influencer’s recent Bud Light campaigns in which he posted a picture of his friend tattooing his grandma’s back, playing up the beer’s motto “Up for whatever.” The Fat Jewish stated,
“I could have taken the brand’s money and posed in a photo holding a beer. That’s the kind of thing other big Instagrammers would have done. But I was like, ‘Let’s do this for real, let’s make this memorable’. I take the time to make this sh** really good. I’m a giver.”
Fun Fact: His insta-fame has not only made him rich, but has also allowed him to roll out his own line of wine, dubbed “White Girl Rosé.”
#2 Kayla Itsines (kayla_itsines)
What’s #BBG? Thanks to this Australian native’s 5.6 million followers, the entire female fitness community is no stranger to her original instructional fitness manual known as the “Bikini Body Guide.” Itsines’ Instagram account combines inspirational memes, her enviable abs, wholesome snacks, and remarkable transformation photos of her devoted followers to make her one of the world’s top fitness influencers. Her message of uniting females through team motivation and self-love, regardless of fitness level, has clearly resonated with women of all ages. As a result, the influencer’s social media fame has led to lucrative brand partnerships with Cosmopolitan, Macmillan and Apple.
Additionally, according to a recent Bloomberg article, online analytics company App Annie claims Itsines’ app “Sweat With Kayla” has generated more revenue than any fitness app this year, besting Nike+ and Under Armour’s MyFitnessPal. And to think the #BBG Empire started with an Instagram account and a girl who’s first social media-related question was “What’s a follower?”…
#3 Arielle Charnas (@somethingnavy)
Bloggers/ Instagram influencers have clearly reshaped the fashion and beauty landscape for multiple brands. One standout NYC fashionista, 29-year-old Arielle Charnas, has influenced women worldwide to drop their fashion magazines and start seeking beauty tips through her various posts, snaps, and tweets.
A recent Los Angeles Times article noted that in early June, within 24 hours of Charnas snapchatting herself using Peter Thomas Roth Rose Stem Cell Bio-Repair Gel Mask, 502 masks were instantly sold, translating to $17,565 worth of product ($123,000 in sales in a week, $527,000 in a month or almost $6.4 million in a year). Not to mention, a public appearance at activewear retailer Bandier in New York’s Flatiron District prompted over 1,000 followers to wait in line in the hopes of catching a glimpse off their beloved influencer.
According to Karen Robinovitz, co-founder of Digital Brand Architects, this revolution in influencer power can be explained by the idea that:
#4 The Kardashians
Let us give a quick shout-out to the experts of brand sponsorships. Under the management of mama Kris Kardashian, Kim, Kourtney, Khloe, Kendall, and Kylie have created a remarkable branding empire.
A prime example of how influencers’, in this case celebrities’, number of followers prompts mega-brands to shy away from traditional marketing strategies and bow at the feet of digital advertisers is Kendall Jenner’s partnership with Estée Lauder. Jenner’s 62 million+ Instagram followers alone make her an extremely attractive representative for any brand, perfectly aligning with Estée Lauder’s goal of shifting resources to advancing digital and social media initiatives with key influencers.
Stacy Mackler, vice president, public relations and communications at Lancôme mirrors this sentiment when she states:
“They’ve [digital influencers] become the next generation of beauty content editors. They don’t work for Condé Nast or Hearst. We treat them with an equal importance as we do our editors, and we know that the info they’re posting is extremely valuable.”
- Times are changing: In order to keep a pulse on the marketing industry, CMOs and digital strategy officers must realize that traditional media just isn’t cutting it anymore. Adapting to the digital landscape by employing social media influencers and building unique brand partnerships is key to corporate survival.
- Platforms have power: The social media frenzy has visibly influenced millennials’ purchasing decisions. Companies should look to this obsession with the social network as a unique opportunity rather than a challenge. In doing so brands can harness impressions and turn them into profits.
- Take advantage of digital natives/ influencers: Whether it be through establishing partnerships through sponsored Instagram posts and product placements, paying Instagrammers to document an interesting event or experience, or asking an influencer to host a grand opening, product launch, etc., influencers should be a part of major brand campaigns and corporate digital strategy initiatives. Hiring popular, digital savvy influencers generates high ROI in an unparalleled way.
- Influencer partnerships are mutually beneficial relationships: According to The Fat Jewish:”They know I won’t go along with their ideas. Yes, I’d like to get dirty rich and buy some exotic animals, but only if the content stays good.”