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Is an influencer a legit career?

Many young adults are aspiring to become social media influencers as a career, although the income potential remains questionable.

A survey of 1,000 Gen-Zers in the U.S. taken in late July from Highervisibility found just over 27 percent plan to become social media influencers after finishing school. The benefits of being an influencer were found to be free products, cited by 62 percent; earnings, 61 percent; meeting other influencers, 48 percent; followers, 47 percent; holidays/traveling, 46 percent; and being a celebrity, 37 percent.

Of those surveyed, over 38 percent agreed that there is enough work to become a social media influencer. Nearly one in four believe there should be social media influencer training in school.

Other recent surveys likewise found high interest influencer as a career:

  • Adobe’s “Future of Creativity” study found being able to express yourself, follow your passions and advance causes among other motivators to become an influencer. 
  • A survey commissioned by YouTube Shorts found 41 percent have considered becoming a content creator with 49 percent believing they can make a “decent living” doing so.

Some doubts about influencers’ potential as a career came from Highervisibility’s survey. Only seven percent of the Gen-Zers surveyed believed their parents would support them becoming a social influencer.

Income appears to be the main concern. A global survey earlier this year of over 9,500 creators published in April by Linktree, a link-sharing platform popular with influencers, found only about 12 percent of overall online content creators earn more than $50,000 annually.

Adobe’s survey found influencers spend an average of 15 hours per week making content, underscoring challenges diversifying clients to support full-time work.

Qianna Smith Bruneteau, founder of the American Influencer Council, a trade association for social media content professionals, told the Financial Post, “Like any small business, it takes about two years to reach break-even.”

Still, the opportunity may grow as influencers become a bigger driver of sales. According to a January survey commissioned by Oracle, 37 percent of consumers trust social media influencers over brands for advice and recommendations with Gen Z and Millennials two times more likely than Boomers to trust influencers.

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