Regular people are making a killing on social media sites like YouTube, Instagram, Vine and SnapChat.
How did today’s social media stars get to where they are? Experts say that a combination of luck, consistency and personality help social media stars grow their platform. And it’s worth it—according to ABC News, corporate America spent over $4 billion on user-generated advertising in 2014.
2015 is the year of the social media star, with more platforms and more popular voices than ever connecting brands to niche consumers via “sponsored social” content and native advertising.
“Brands are increasingly doling out dollars to content creators due to their unique ability to produce relevant, authentic stories that resonate with consumers’ evolving media consumption habits,” says Claudia Page, VP, Head of Creator Partnerships at Crowdtap, a marketing platform that connects brands with passionate consumers.
Why are brands so interested in working with them?
“Most everyday brands find it difficult to naturally enter lifestyle conversations because they lack credibility in those spaces,” adds Page.
Brands can reach engaged audiences that align with interest groups by entering into partnerships with trusted subject matter experts—also known as social media stars. It’s a new way of advertising that less obvious than a television commercial, but much more focused and, in a way, personal.
Benjamin Oduro is a Talent Booker at International Talent Agency, LLC and based in New York office. He says brands are interested in working with social media stars because they know they have a big fan base that markets to the specific demographic that they are trying to reach.
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Today online socializing dominates offline socializing. Elise Gabriel, Director of Digital Marketing at Wurrly, an on-the-go music studio mobile app based in San Francisco, points to a Pew study on Gen Z reporting that a majority of the 13 - 17 cohort have stated their preference to online networking over in-person connections.
“Modern social media celebrities are a natural response to an online generation needing leaders to create common bonds,” Gabriel says. “From a brand perspective, they are a marketers dream,” she says, “because they speak clearly and directly to the buying generations of the future on social platforms that are both measurable and don’t show any signs of slowing down.”
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So what do social media stars really make?
The bottom line is surprisingly robust for many stars. What they really make varies on who they are, the demographic, and their follower count. “I've seen contracts around $150,000 for two tweets a week for a year, but I've also seen clients receive around $1500 per tweet,” says Oduro. “Also social media stars are now obtaining more television jobs, appearance bookings, et cetera.”
According to a recent Business Insider piece, a popular 16 year-old Vine star can make $2,600 just by sharing one of her sponsor’s video with her followers on Twitter. Adweek reports one million views on YouTube could bring in between $800 and 8,000 dollars for the star uploading the video.
As for the wildly popular photo sharing site Instagram? You’ll find that the grass is pretty green over there as well. According to a recent piece on Yahoo Tech, Instagrammers with big followings and a high level of follower engagement—read lots of likes and comments—are making a thousand dollars just for sharing one sponsored image.
With all of this money flying around, platforms such as Niche and Izea now exist to connect fledgling social media stars with the corporate brands who might be interested in paying them. The Mobile Media Lab, based in New York City, is another consultancy specifically designed to connect popular social media users with the brands that love them.
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How can you become a star?
Authenticity and consistency are helpful when it comes to building up a social media following. It’s also a good idea to establish a voice on a platform when it’s in its infancy, as many Vine or Instagram superstars have done.
“When you post things people are interested in, gradually your fan base can grow,” says Odura. “It's also important to place minimal relevant hash tags and produce consistent content that is relevant to your social media site leaving the viewer/fan wanting more.”
A personable vibe goes a long way, as does a passion for your chosen subject matter. In other words, be yourself and you’ll connect.
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