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The Synthetic Generation: Influencing is big business

Sander Duivestein
March 21, 2019

Although influencing is now clearly hip terrain, it’s naturally been around for millennia. Influencing is derived from the Latin influentia, which means ‘to flow in’. For us as homo sapiens, social group animals, it is impossible not to ‘flow’ into someone’s psyche to a greater or lesser extent when we work together or interact. The clothes someone is wearing, social status, a look, dominant, rushed or quiet body language, the specific use of words and intonation, everything has a large or a small influence. This also includes a posting on Instagram that is deliberately read and viewed. And here, too, the extent of the influence varies. Influencing others through catchy texts, sophisticated photos, sensational films, and meaningful emoticons is in the blood of this self-confident generation. The influencer has clearly developed further than the teenager who simply tells us about his day. In an interview with The Atlantic, a 13-year-old talks anonymously about her dissatisfaction with an old-fashioned job: they often require training, and ‘Then you have to, like, physically go out and do the job for hours a day.’. It seems like a lot of hassle compared to her new gig of posting sponsored content on Instagram: ‘Doing this, you can make one simple post, which doesn’t take a while. That single post can earn you, like, $50.’ In one month, this 13-year-old with her 8000 followers has earned a few hundred dollars. But it is not as easy as it sounds, with research showing that 96.5 percent of everyone who wants to become a YouTube star does not generate enough income to exceed the poverty line of $12,140. The above-mentioned practice is also called ‘micro-influencer marketing’. Common Instagrammers, with several thousand to tens of thousands of followers, promote a product for a fee. According to the article in The Atlantic, thousands of teenagers earn a little extra pocket money. Some are their own managers; others use a specialized mediation agency. Besides the micro-influencers, we also see the emergence of so-called ‘shopper influencers’. Platforms such as Th Insiders and have millions of common influencers and Instagrammers in their network and play matchmaker with product campaigns. The deal is usually a free product in exchange for a post or review. Corporate influencers are of course not left behind; the views vary from dozens to more than a million. The American Mediakix, a company specializing in influencer marketing, calculated that in 2018 €1.3 billion will be spent on collaborations worldwide through Instagram. And, according to a rough estimate, influencers, large and small, will raise between €4 and €8 billion by 2020. The Economist calculated that top influencers with more than 7 million followers, depending on the platform, raise between $60,000 and $350,000 for a social media post. With “only” 100,000 followers the amounts are between $2,000 and $12,500. To know more about the special media behavior of the synthetic generation, download the report here.

About the author

Trend Watcher – New Media, Trend Analyst VINT | Netherlands
Sander Duivestein (1971) is a highly acclaimed and top-rated trendwatcher, an influential author, an acclaimed keynote speaker, a digital business entrepreneur, and a strategic advisor on disruptive innovations. His main focus is the impact of new technologies on people, businesses and society.


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