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Is Being a Social Media Influencer a Real Career?

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You’re scrolling through your Instagram feed early in the morning and as your second alarm rings reminding you to get ready for the day, you see a perfect picture of a gorgeous influencer sipping on some over-priced coffee. This when you think to yourself: “Is this what being an influencer is? Is this really what they do for a living? Live a lavish life and always look good?” Well yes, and no. Here’s everything you need to know about influencers, right from how they make money to why their job might be toxic.

Who Are Influencers?

Influencers are people who have the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others because of their authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with their audience. Additionally, what makes them unique is that they have many followers in a distinct niche, with whom they actively engage wherein health and fitness, beauty and travel top this list. However, an important thing to note is that influencers aren’t merely tools for marketing but rather social relationship assets with which brands can collaborate to achieve their marketing objectives.

Let’s talk money

Influencers make their money through social media sponsored posts, affiliated marketing or by being a brand ambassador.

How do influencers earn from social media? This is one of the most common questions which has no straight answer. Influencers make their money through social media sponsored posts, affiliated marketing or by being a brand ambassador. In the first case, brands or marketers pay influencers to promote a certain brand or product in a social media post. The post can either be entirely about the product or it could feature several products at a time. Influencers usually create review posts, informational posts, or simply feature and tag the products.

For sponsored posts, Instagram influencers can charge between $124 and $1,405 per post. However, the cost depends on numerous factors such as the number of followers and the brand they partner with.

Affiliate marketing is one of the easiest ways influencers earn money. They approach brands or retailers that offer affiliate programs. Once they have been accepted as an affiliate marketer, they are given a unique link or code which is used for tracking transactions. The goal of influencers is to direct their followers to use the affiliate link to earn a commission.

Being a brand ambassador is slightly different from the earlier mentioned options. It involves signing a contract with the brand and once that’s done, influencers receive free products from the brand and in exchange, they are expected to promote these products on social media.

Why Is This Not Considered a Career by Most?

Being an influencer not only doesn’t fit into these stereotypes but actively breaks all of them, making it harder for it to be considered as a career option.

For starters, most people think being an influencer is “too easy” in comparison to a real job. Some stereotypes attached to a job are that it must be 9 to 5, accompanied by stress, and offers some stability – both in terms of longevity and income. Being an influencer not only doesn’t fit into these stereotypes but actively breaks all of them, making it harder for it to be considered as a career option.

The Downside Of Being an Influencer

While we only get a glimpse of their glamorous life, most influencers suffer from anxiety, because they fear losing their relevance. Being irrelevant is as good as losing your job. Influencers can’t just copy what somebody else is doing all the time. There is a constant pressure to be creative with ideas, to ensure they aren’t posting offensive content and to create something that increases their followers. Additionally, influencers are recipients of hate comments and being thick-skinned is the only way to make it as an influencer.

Are Influencers Authentic?

Without a doubt, many influencers are faking it and just care about the money. They don’t bat an eye about what they’re posting and whether it’s beneficial to their audience or not. However, there are many genuine influencers as well who have been working very hard for years to get to where they are today. They use their platform for positive reinforcement amongst their followers. Ambar Driscoll for example has almost 300,000 followers and uses her platform to encourage body positivity and unedited images to improve her followers’ self-confidence. 

What Does Influencing as a Profession Mean for the Future of Our Society?

Research shows that the most popular profession among children these days is that of a Youtuber or a vlogger, showing just how desperately everyone wants to be in this profession. So is being an influencer the next big career? Influencer as a career may begin to diminish if everyone entered the field but what must be kept in mind is can everyone do it? But, as of now, this new “career” is on the rise and it’s getting harder to stay relevant in the field as the competition to grow on social media increases for influencers.  

 

Cover: Heather Claycomb

Edited By: Sajal Bhateja

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