Social media influencers play an important role in the worldwide creator economy, and it’s worth taking a moment to look at precisely what they are.
Simply put, an influencer is considered to be anyone on social media who has the ability to influence the purchasing habits of a large number of people. These individuals are typically authority figures on a particular topic or niche and have a substantially larger following than average.
With just under half of the world’s population on social media, social media influencers have become a powerful marketing tool for brands and advertising firms, and this is a trend that will only continue to grow.
While influencers can be found across a wide array of mediums, including blogging, videography, social media posting, live streaming, and more, they can be generally divided into three categories based on their number of followers, reach, and authority:
Tier 1 Influencers: Tier 1 influencers are typically people with several million followers on any given platform and gained their fame through offline activities. Common examples of Tier 1 influencers include movie stars, sports stars, TV personalities, and musicians (although several online celebrities and YouTubers are considered tier 1 influencers).
Initially, Tier 1 influencers didn’t have much impact on the creator economy as most of their marketing activities were done through traditional advertising channels. This has changed dramatically however, and today, Tier 1 influencers actively promote brands and products on their social media pages in conjunction with the content they create.
Tier 2 Influencers: Tier 2 influencers generally have between 50,000 and 1 million subscribers/followers on any given social media platform, and the group consists mainly of online celebrities and authority figures. An excellent example of a Tier 2 influencer would be PewDiePie, a popular YouTube personality who rose to fame by streaming himself playing online video games.
That being said, Tier 2 influencers also include key opinion leaders such as academics, industry experts, journalists, scientists, politicians, and other individuals who the general public may turn to when looking for an expert opinion on a particular topic.
Tier 3 Influencers: Tier three is reserved for individuals with 50,000 followers or less and is typically made up of people who have managed to become an authority figure on some kind of niche topic. Even with fewer followers, tier 3 influencers can still strongly influence the buying habits of their audience, especially if they create entertaining or educational content for very specialized or niche topics such as diving, BJJ, or DeFi.
While this is simple enough to understand, you may still be unclear exactly what role Influencers play in the creator economy. Essentially, influencers are often contracted by brands and advertising agencies to plug a product or service to their audience base, and usually, the products are significantly related to the subject matter the influencer is an authority on.
An example of this is Joe Rogan, who at one time or another has been hired to promote various supplements and CBD products on his podcast.
The topic of social media influencers is important because it shows how mainstream the creator economy has become in such a short amount of time, something we will look at in more detail in a later section.