Instagram is the most popular platform for influencers for the second year running and, for the first time, it tops the barometer as the most popular commercial platform. The use of podcast and video-sharing services is also on the rise. Social media influencers have become increasingly professional: more influencers are earning a regular income, are working full time and operating as entrepreneurs. At the same time, almost one in three have considered quitting for reasons such as exhaustion, lack of time, the stress of being under constant scrutiny, and the challenges of the earning logic.
These trends were the key findings in Manifesto’s 11th in-depth Social Media Influencer Barometer. The online survey was responded to by 105 bloggers, YouTubers, Instagram influencers and other popular content creators, who were invited by Manifesto to participate in the survey in May and June 2019.
Instagram remains the most popular platform – podcasts are on the rise
For the second year running, Instagram tops the barometer as the most popular social media platform among influencers: almost all of the respondents (99%) use it for publishing content. The second most popular platform among Finnish influencers is Facebook (85%) and the third most popular channel is the blog (84%). Compared to last year, the popularity of Facebook and blogs has slightly decreased.
The three most popular platforms among social media influencers stand apart: the fourth most popular channel, Twitter, is used by 36 percent of the respondents. In comparison, 34 percent of the respondents use Youtube or other video-sharing platforms for content production, an increase compared to recent years.
“Compared to 2018, podcasts see particular growth in popularity among influencers. Fourteen percent of this year’s respondents said they use podcasts to publish their content, compared to only six percent last year. As many as 42 percent of the respondents believe the importance of podcasts will continue to grow in the future. TikTok and Twitch were also mentioned as the platforms of the future,” says Markus Hilden, Communications Consultant at Manifesto and one of the authors of the barometer.
The most popular channel for commercial purposes among the respondents was Instagram (89%), overtaking blogging (80%) in commercial use for the first time. The commercial use of Facebook has declined: less than half (48%) of the respondents use it for commercial purposes. The commercial use of YouTube and other video-sharing platforms and podcasts has substantially increased instead.
Social media influencing has become professional
Whereas in 2017, the main function of social medial influencing was still simply to entertain, this aspect of social media influencing has become less important. Social media influencing has become a professional industry and it is taken more seriously.
“Many social media influencers pursue their careers as professionals and as entrepreneurs. The proportion of entrepreneurs among influencers has increased dramatically: as many as 60 percent of the respondents say they are entrepreneurs, a 12-percent increase from last year. The number of assistants, editors and photography experts involved in the industry is increasing accordingly,” says Hilden.
Although the majority of social media influencers is still working part-time (72%), the number of full-time influencers has increased from 24 to 28 percent since the previous barometer.
The proportion of people earning a regular income as influencers is also growing. Of this year’s respondents, 45 percent said they were earning a regular income from social media, compared to 39 percent last year.
Of those earning a real income, 28 percent earned EUR 500 or less per month, and three-quarters no more than EUR 2,500 per month. Earnings higher that this are not uncommon, with seven percent of the respondents reporting earning in excess of EUR 6,500 per month.
Nearly one in three influencers have considered quitting
The respondents were also asked this year if they had considered quitting social media influencing in the past year. A majority of the respondents (65%) said they had not considered quitting. However, almost one-third (32%) had considered closing their channel in the past year and 3 percent had switched to another type of channel. Those who had considered quitting social media influencing, were also asked to provide reasons in an open-ended question.
The reasons included the stressfulness of the world of social media, lack of time and the challenges of the earning logic. The answers also revealed that the time pressures and the constant race to publish high-quality content can actually drive a person to the brink of exhaustion.
“With increased professionalism, influencers work long hours under increasing pressures regarding the quality of the content, and yet social media influencing at this level is not perceived as work at all by those outside the industry. This is obviously frustrating for the influencers. That the content, and one’s personal life, is public and an open target for criticism does not make it any easier. Social media influencers with commercial deals may also need to find a balance between the demands of the brand and their own followers, so they are under pressure from all directions,” says Hanna Reinikainen, a PhD researcher at the Jyväskylä University School of Business and Economics.
Download the Social Media Influencer 2019 report in full from here (in Finnish).
The Manifesto has been publishing the Social Media Influencer Barometer since 2009 to monitor the development, trends and changes in the Finnish social media influencer industry. The survey has expanded over the years from covering lifestyle blogs to including a wide range of social media categories.