It’s bizarre, isn’t it?
Gen Zs go to school to study traditionally accepted career paths. But in-between classes and after school, many young people are on their mobile phones consuming content from someone they aspire to be.
They’re among us. They’re everywhere. Even on quick-scroll toilet breaks.
Today, these social media stars are powerful allies to brands, advertisers and marketers, making it a US 13.8 billion dollar global industry.
In fact, influencers are twice as effective as celebrities at marketing to Gen Zs, our What Gen Z Actually Do report found. 32% told us they bought something because of an influencer compared to just 16% who bought something because of a celebrity.
That’s because they’re seen as real and relatable people.
So you think you can influence?
Essentially, influencers are content creators who have built a community following around their brand, offerings and expertise. Yes, some people achieve influencing status as a byproduct of their subject expertise learned in school. But not always.
To be an influencer is alluring. Because it can feel like any average person can do it. Oh, you just have to chronicle your life and be ‘like’-able. That’s not too hard, right?
But that’s an outdated perception.
This is a real job that wears many hats. Defining the niche and target audience, strategising content, creating the content itself, executing it, selling it, managing brand partnerships. Engaging with the community, too.
Just look at these guys.
A real job: The Inspired Unemployed
“Our goal was 20,000 followers in two years, and in two years, we got to 900,000 or a million,” Jack Steele – one half of skit creators The Inspired Unemployed – said at our Year13 Expo this year.
A big factor to their influencing success? Like a proper career, good ol’ dedication. Even at the very beginning when there didn’t seem to be much response.
“I guess that just put us in a good habit of working hard.”
When their Instagram account reached 10 to 20,000 followers, brands and influencer managers started to hit them up.
“For about six, seven months, it was just slowly, slowly climbing and then it got to 10K, all of a sudden maybe in like three weeks, we’ll make 35, $50,000,” Matt Ford – the other half – said.
And that’s proper money, that young people today might take a year to see fresh out of university.
Jack jumped in: “Since we got to that mark, it just went crazy. It just kept rolling and rolling and rolling.”
And just like all fruitful careers, there’s a future plan for the Inspired Unemployed.
“We’re always thinking long term, since the start of this, especially brand deals,” Jack said.
“A TV show is a long-term goal, and we’re going to hopefully have a company come out at the end of this year, podcast, and just expand and grow and keep hoping on good things.”
So is it about time for social media influencers to be added on the list of socially-acceptable career paths?
Certainly sounds like it.