NEW YORK: So much for dreams of making big bucks with just a few, quick social media posts. Being an influencer is becoming a full-time job, according to a study released on Thursday by influencer marketing platform #Hashoff.
The survey’s results differ drastically from the same study conducted six months ago. This spring, only 12% of respondents said being a creator was their only form of employment. That number more than doubled to 28% in the more recent edition of the study. Most creators (54%) said that while they aren’t able to support themselves as full-time creators, that is their goal.
"This space is white hot," Joel Wright, president and cofounder of #Hashoff, said of the uptick. "Brands are starting to recognize and acknowledge that working with this super authentic and highly creative group of individuals can really help them move the needle in terms of brand metrics, whether it is equity or purchase or a variety of other things."
However, a byproduct of a heavier workload is that creators must be more diligent about managing what they do.
"I also think there is an increased level of demand, which is one of the reasons you are seeing dramatically more people saying this is their only form of employment versus in the past when it was more of a part-time gig," he said.
The survey also found that influencers do not want to "sell out," with 64% of respondents saying they would not promote a brand they don’t believe in, even if it came with a big paycheck.
"A lot of people have a misconception that [influencers] will just work with whomever so long as there is compensation involved," said Wright. "Most of the creators really value a level of authenticity and having some sort of an affinity for the brands they work on."
#Hashoff created the survey in Google Forms and shared it via email with influencers on the company’s platform. The set of questions was open for one month between August and September. It attracted 414 respondents.
Eight in 10 respondents said they either charge a flat fee per post or publish in exchange for a free product (40%). The study found little consistency in how influencer fees are developed: 35% have a model that takes into account reach and engagement rates, 18% ask their peers, and 22% rely on the brands themselves to suggest a price. Seventeen percent of creators said they "ask for as much as I can get."
Most influencers (61%) said they work with a few brands on an ongoing basis, and 21% said they are part of a whitelisted network with a brand or publisher.
This year, only 3% of creators said YouTube is their number platform; but four times that number predicted it will be their platform of choice in 2018.
"You are starting to see less interest in brands working with someone based on how large their community is, but moreso on the basis of a natural affinity they actually have for the brand or category," said Wright. "To have the context or creative capabilities to tell a compelling, interesting, and engaging story that their community is going to be valuable versus an ‘insert ad here’ kind of relationship."
#Hashoff recommends the following to brands: use influencers to crowdsource authentic content; select creators in your target demographic; go for engagement, not follower counts; consider new relationship models; measure ROI; think of influencers as partners.
Wright said #Hashoff plans to continue running this study every six months.