"Online influencer" wasn’t on the list of career choices when many of us hit the job market in search of a way to make a living but for a select number of people, it’s a viable – and potentially lucrative – way to make money.
Advertisers spent roughly $500 million on influencers – celebrities, public figures and socialites with a large number of online followers – in 2015 according to Mediakix, a company that helps match brands with influencers. This year, it estimates companies could spend upwards of $8.2 billion on influencers.
Such sponsored posts could disappear just as quickly as the trend arrived, however.
Consumers are wising up to how sponsored posts work, realizing that celebrities and influencers don’t really have a personal connections with the products they are marketing. Furthermore, dishonest influencers are artificially inflating their social media follower numbers in hopes of landing more lucrative deals.
Worse yet, advertisers are having a difficult time gauging their return on investment. Aside from social media likes – which again, can be faked – there isn’t a tangible way to measure a campaign’s success or guarantee how many eyes will see a particular ad.
Some advertisers and brands are already turning away from influencers. Banana Republic, for example, is now highlighting organic posts from real-life shoppers.