Nearly three quarters of Gen Z and millennials in the U.S. follow influencers on social media, and the majority said they trust influencers more than their favorite celebrities when it comes to advice about brands or products, according to a new report.
But young people don't only trust influencers, they want to be them: 86% of Gen Z and millennials surveyed would post sponsored content for money, and 54% would become an influencer given the opportunity, according to the report by research firm Morning Consult, which surveyed 2,000 Americans ages 13 to 38 about influencer culture.
Sixty-one percent of young Americans said they're already likely to organically post about brands they like, according to the survey, so if they were to get paid, how much money could they make?
On Instagram, an micro-influencer with 15,000 followers (micro-influencers are those how have less than 50,000 followers typically) could make $457 on average for a sponsored post, Bryan Gold, CEO of #Paid, a website that connects influencers and brands, tells CNBC Make It. With 50,000 followers on Instagram, an influencer could make $1,026 on average for a post, and with 250,000 followers, they could make $3,766. The dollar amounts continue to increase as follower count rises, Gold says.
"Pricing can really vary — anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to upwards of a couple hundred thousand dollars for a campaign," Claire Winegar, senior content associate at marketing agency Digitas tells CNBC Make it. "It depends on an influencer's following, their audience engagement [their interaction with followers, including 'likes'], how niche their audience is, how involved the production is" and more.
The rise of influencer marketing is also shaping the way companies allocate their advertising budgets — in a 2019 report by eMarketer, about 31% of chief marketing officers said they were increasing their focus on influencers.
Although most millennials and zoomers surveyed by Morning Consult agree that they'd be an influencer, some of their motives differed.
Gen Z and millennials both would be influencers to make a difference in the world (58% and 48% respectively), and both desired flexible hours (55% and 60%). But a unique motivator for Gen Z was the opportunity to share their ideas with a large audience (53%), while millennials were motivated by money (58%).
While only 12% of young people considered themselves to be influencers, according to the report, the potential influencer job market is massive.
Influencer marketing "is not a fad and it's not going away anytime soon. At a macro level, attention is still shifting from major traditional media channels, like television, to mobile and social channels where creators dominate," says Gold.
But there have been problems with influencer marketing — some influencers have reportedly purchased fake followers, paying for bots to like or comment on their posts, according to a 2019 report by Cheq. This misleads users and brands, costing advertisers $1.3 billion this year alone, Cheq found. Other influencers have received warnings from the Federal Trade Commission for not properly marking posts as ads, and some (including the Kardashians) have been criticized for putting their names to products that are controversial. Some influencers have even faked sponsored posts to look like they have more paying clients than they actually do, in order to boost their "cred" among followers and potential partners.
Still, "given how many people are involved on social media, the growth of influencers isn't slowing down any time soon," Winegar said.
And the market for influencers is expanding in another way — with nano-influencers, who typically have less than 10,000 followers. "There will be lots of opportunity for nano-creators to get their foot in the door and start proving their worth to brands with only a few thousands followers," Gold says.
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Correction: An earlier version of this story included an incorrect stat about influencer marketing spend. It has been removed from this version. The story has been also been corrected to reflect that #Paid is an online platform.