Social-media influencers: Incomes soar amid growing popularity

By Jane Wakefield
Technology reporter

Image source, BBC/Reuters
Image caption,
Zoe Sugg (Zoella), singer Rita Ora and model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley are all social-media influencers

The money made by social-media influencers has risen meteorically in the last few years, according to a new report.

Marketing firm Izea found the average price of a sponsored photo on Instagram has jumped from $134 (£104) in 2014 to $1,642 (£1,276) in 2019.

Brands appear willing to pay handsomely to sponsor posts, videos, stories and blogs, too, says Business Insider.

But one expert insists it will not mean the end of traditional advertising.

"Digital marketing is the equivalent of word of mouth but there will always be a mix between that and traditional advertising," said Yuval Ben-Itzhak, chief executive of social media marketing platform Socialbakers.

Instagram influencers. Average charge per photo post. Charge per sponsored photo post rose from $134.04 in 2014 to $1,642.77 in 2019 .

The report looked at sponsored content on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and blogs, examining negotiated rates from 2014 to 2019.

From micro-influencers - people with fewer than 100,000 followers - to celebrities, it found that there was good money to be made.

Among the findings were:

  • The average cost for a sponsored Instagram photo has risen 44% from 2018 to 2019 alone
  • For a sponsored blog post it has soared from $7.39 in 2006 to $1,442 in 2019
  • YouTube videos command the highest fees - four times that of the next highest-priced form of sponsored content - up from $420 in 2014 to $6,700 in 2019
  • A Facebook status update has risen from $8 in 2014 to $395 in 2019
  • A Twitter post has risen from $29 in 2014 to $422 in 2019
  • Blog posts have risen from $407 to $1,442

Consumer law warning

As more and more people join the rush to become social-media influencers, the industry has gained more scrutiny from regulators.

Last month, three influencers had Instagram posts touting diet products banned by the Advertising Standards Authority, which dubbed them "irresponsible".

And at the beginning of the year, the Competition and Markets Authority warned that some influencer posts could break consumer law if they did not make clear when posts endorsing products were ads.

Zoe Sugg (Zoella), singer Rita Ora and model Rosie Huntingon-Whiteley were among 16 influencers who agreed to change the way they posted content.

Brands will continue to pour money into social-media advertising, according to data from Socialbakers.

Influencer articles. Average charge per blog post. Influencers charged $7.39 per blog post in 2006 and $1442.27 in 20 .

Its research suggests that influencer-sponsored posts grew by 150% in the last year, with the use of the hashtag #ad more than doubling.

It predicts that brands will up their spend on influencer marketing in 2020, making it a $10bn industry.

Instagram is currently experimenting with hiding "likes" on posts but Mr Ben-Itzhak does not think this will have an impact on the influencer industry.

"Influencers will still be able to see what engagement they have and it is common practice to grant permission to brands so that they can see that too," he said.

"The bigger question will be whether consumers will continue to engage when they can't see 'likes'."