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Millennials Are Cashing In On Their Social Influence

August 15, 2014

By Holly Hamann

Welcome to the new age of influence, where 20-something content creators on Vine can make as much as $20,000 for a 6-second video and Millennial fashionistas can earn six figures for their stylish outfits on Instagram. 

According to metric provider OpenSlate, 24-year old YouTube sensation PewDiePie, who narrates and records his gaming sessions, earns an estimated $5.4M per year from brands who advertise on his YouTube channel, which has 26.7 million subscribers. PewDiePie is part of multichannel network Maker Studios, which was acquired by Disney earlier this year for $500 million to help promote their films and digital properties to younger audiences.

For the first time in history, consumers know more about a marketing channel than brands do. Brands are spending millions of dollars trying to build audiences on visual social platforms like Instagram, Vine and YouTube.  Ironically, for 18-33 year olds born into the digital revolution, creating and sharing content on social media is second nature. And for the very tech-savvy, selfie-absorbed generation of Millennials, it also means big bucks.

The power these social content creators have on the purchase behaviors of their peers has spawned an entire industry of multichannel networks designed to broker that influence to brands.  And it’s no surprise that many of the entrepreneurs who are launching these networks are Millennials themselves.

28-year-old Eric Dahan co-founded InstaBrand, a startup that connects brands to influencers on Instagram and Vine. Retailers like Levi’s, American Apparel and Fossil have tapped his network to expand their reach to young shoppers.

Honda, Coach and Samsung have engaged NY-based Mobile Media Lab to grow their Instagram reach among mobile consumers. “Millennials are more DIY than any other generation before and they’ve been able to brand themselves more, too. “ says 27-year-old co-founder Anthony Danielle. The average Mobile Media Lab influencer earns about $3,500 and some high-profile Instagramers earn as much as $19,000 in a year from their images and videos.

When it comes to retail therapy, watching other people buy makeup, jumpers, and jewelry is just as popular as actual shopping. Haulers, an exploding genre of YouTube influencers, are trend-obsessed fashion vloggers who create videos of their shopping “hauls” and showcase their loot to their Gen Y and Gen Z subscribers. There are estimated to be over 1 million Hauler channels on YouTube.

Want to reach fashion-hungry female shoppers watching haul videos? StyleHaul represents over 4700 YouTube fashion channels and works with beauty brands like Sephora, Maybelline and Tresemme. CA-based Big Frame not only helps consumer brands like Pepsi and Cover Girl drive awareness on YouTube, they help influencers grow their careers with tools that help them develop their audiences.

What Do Social Influencers Have That Brands Don’t?

Millennial influencers have some distinct advantages that brands do not, including larger communities of followers, trust from consumers, authentic personal experience, and expertise on a variety of social networks. 28-year-old Big Frame account executive Jessica Worthen said it best, “Millennials are all about staying true to themselves and celebrating what makes them unique. These attributes come across in the authenticity of their content.” These influencers are very effective at starting, sharing and spreading online conversations, which is incredibly valuable to brands.

Source

"Millennials Are Cashing In On Their Social Influence." MediaPost, 08/15/14.

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