Roughly one third of U.S. social media users ages 16-34, or 25.5 million people, is a “social creator” or social influencer, according to a new study from Yahoo, Deep Focus, Shareablee and Ipsos, which breaks this huge group down into three sub-groups based on their level of experience and expertise.
Within the total population of social creators identified by Yahoo, 4.6 million or 18% are well-established influencers, termed “socialites” by Yahoo, while 15.5 million or 61% are “rising stars,” and 4.3 million or 17% are “newbies.” Socialites have 1,784 followers on average, while rising stars have 797 and newbies have 1,376.
As Yahoo notes, each influencer tier offers marketers different opportunities and challenges: for example, marketers can “get in on the ground floor” (my phrase) by helping an aspiring influencer build their creative approach to monetization, versus partnering with an established influencer to reach a large, devoted audience, but ceding them creative control as part of the bargain.
In the first group, socialites, 35% have already partnered with a brand online, with 40% of these working with an electronics or wireless tech brand. Overall, 66% of branded posts published by socialites actually featured brand integration. Other popular categories socialites would like to work with include fashion and beauty (33%), entertainment (30%), and travel (20%).
Among rising stars, 35% have already partnered with a brand, and of those who haven’t, 55% would like to do so. Just 27% of branded posts published by rising stars actually feature brand integration. Members of this group would most like to partner with brands in entertainment (27%), electronics and wireless tech (26%), beauty and fashion (25%), and travel (18%).
Among newbies, 71% have never partnered with a brand, but if they could they would like to partner with brands in categories including fashion (27%), entertainment (24%), electronics and wireless tech (19%), and travel (18%). Turning to newbies who have partnered with brands, 82% of their branded posts feature brand integration, but these were often smaller brands which already had a personal connection with the influencer.
Yahoo noted a number of other studies which suggest influencer marketing is about to explode. For example, data from eMarketer shows that whereas marketers are currently devoting around 11% of their budgets to social media in general, that figure will rise to 14% over the next twelve months and 24% within five years. Furthermore, 59% plan to increase spending on social media influencers specifically over the next year.