Millennial Social Influencers are Making More Money than You

Have you heard of Bethany Mota? Probably not, but she has seven million YouTube subscribers, earns over $400,000 per year, and is only 19 years old. Does the name Brent Rivera ring a bell? He averages three million views on each Vine video he posts. These are just two of the thousands of millennials succeeding at social media influencer stardom. The rise of social media and social narcissism has provided youngsters with something to say the opportunity to make it a business, and marketers are attempting to monetize their followings quickly.

Virtually overnight, agencies that specialize in representing social media talent have flooded the industry. One agency, Maker Studios, reps talent like YouTube star Pew Die Pie (Felix Kjellberg, 31 million followers), and was recently acquired by Disney for a staggering $500 million. Another agency, Niche, focuses more on Vine personalities, and partners its talent with brands like Home Depot and GapKids.

This isn’t a small industry by any means, and the sponsored content these social stars are creating doesn’t come cheap. Take one YouTube style guru, Nicole Guerriero, for example. She was reportedly paid over $30,000 for a single video featuring an online clothing rental company. Nash Grier, another Vine superstar, reportedly made $25,000 on a single 6-second sponsored Vine video. That’s more than enough to make a living, which is exactly what this generation of self-made social media superstars is hoping for.

So, how can brands and marketers channel these influencers? First, they need to know their audience, and which social apps that audience interacts with most. Influencers are on every platform for every topic ranging from video gaming to home improvement, but beware that finding someone who fits your industry may not be enough. Take a look at their fan engagement, and you’ll get a better estimate on the return on your investment. In beauty, for instance, Melissa Autry has 210,000 subscribers but only averages 20,000 views per video, while Danna Ann averages over 30,000 views with 190,000 subscribers.

Next, consider how you’re going to measure influencer success. Are you looking for fans, awareness, sales, or something different? Instagram is a great platform for visually conveying a message or lifestyle, but direct conversions can be low because of the inability to link outside the app. Pinterest, on the other hand, is great for conversion, and “Pinfluencers” can get your product photos in front of thousands of eyeballs. If you choose to go through an agency, you can have your content re-formatted and optimized for maximum performance potential before it even hits an influencer inbox. YouTube is favorable when your brand’s product or service has an education barrier; DIY/How-To videos are perfect for that platform.

Finally, know that it’s perfectly OK to start small. Huge social stars are out there, and you can spend big with them, but finding five or so smaller fish may be the right place to start, depending on your budget. Niche says its average buys for sponsored content are in the middle four digit range, but they’ve worked with budgets as small as $500.

However you choose to approach it, the benefits of a social influencer reach nirvana when all parties involved– brand, talent, agency– work together to grow fans and consumers, increase awareness, make money, and build their brands.