Social media's new multi-billion dollar industry

In charts: the marketing revolution under way as companies direct more of their spending at the “influencers” who endorse their goods and services


Social media is transforming the way humans connect and share information – but it’s also transforming whole swathes of business functions, and in particular the way businesses promote their products and services.

At the heart of this revolution is the explosive growth of Instagram. Launched less than a decade ago (2010) and attracting 100 million users by 2013, Instagram’s userbase topped 1 billion last year. The volume of material being posted is also growing exponentially, with approximately 100 million pictures and videos published daily, in turn drawing billions of “likes”.

The platform – owned by Facebook and rapidly catching up to its parent in terms of popularity – has one especially powerful attraction to advertisers: the youth of its audience. Traditional media, such as print and broadcasting, are still popular vehicles for advertising spend, but the audiences there are ageing and fragmenting. The data about them is patchy and their responses are hard to quantify.

Instagram, by contrast, has younger, highly engaged audiences whose interests are clearly defined and who can be reached accurately via key “influencers” – celebrities and others who have built large followings around certain subjects or products.

As a result “Influencer marketing” is a multi-billion-dollar industry, with hundreds of new agencies springing up each year helping companies redeploy their marketing budgets. And the industry is spawning a new generation of millionaires – possibly even billionaires – whose fortunes arise from the fees they are paid simply to post on Instagram.

While the precise payments to individual “influencers” or “brand ambassadors” are generally guarded secrets, one Birmingham-based company, Hopper HQ, has compiled a list of who it believes are the highest-paid posters – and the fees they command.


Explosive growth: companies' spend on influencer marketing


Source: Influencer Marketing Hub 2019


Young audiences: who are Instagram's 1 billion users?

Instagram users worldwide, by age and gender


Source: Influencer Marketing Hub 2019


Putting a price on a post

Instagram's "Rich List": what the world's most influential figures can charge per post


Source: Hopper HQ 2018





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Alexander Prinz von Hessen

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