Influencer Sponsored Social Media Content is the New Generation of Marketing

Instagram+and+other+social+media+platforms+have+been+increasingly+used+as+advertising+platforms.+Influencers+can+make+millions+of+dollars+by+posting+sponsored+content.+Illustration+courtesy+of+Sophie+Fang.

Instagram and other social media platforms have been increasingly used as advertising platforms. Influencers can make millions of dollars by posting sponsored content. Illustration courtesy of Sophie Fang.

Penelope Stinson, Assistant Opinions Editor

Kylie Jenner makes at least one million dollars from each of her sponsored Instagram posts, more than 22 times the yearly salary of the average American worker, according to reports by BBC and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The most followed person on Instagram, Cristiano Ronaldo, made almost 48 million dollars from sponsored content on Instagram in 2019, according to Fox Business. On TikTok, 16-year-old Charli D’Amelio makes more than $100,000 from each of her sponsored videos, according to reports from Cosmopolitan. These celebrities certainly are not the only ones who have profited from their millions of followers.

Teenagers are particularly susceptible to influencer and celebrity marketing tactics: according to Pew Research Center, approximately 63% of teenagers reported using social media every day. Because teens collectively represent 44 billion dollars in purchasing power, according to Time, they are a likely target for companies. 

Junior Jazlin Chen has recently cut down on the number of celebrities and influencers she follows on Instagram due to her feed being overwhelmed with sponsored content. “[I’ve] stopped going on [Instagram] as much because of the influx of advertisement and sponsorships I’ve seen,” she said. Chen admitted that because of influencer sponsorships and the relentless marketing done by companies on social media, she has been tempted to buy products. 

Sophomore Dorinda Xiao also noted the current abundance of sponsored posts on Instagram. “There’s a whole category of models literally called Instagram models. […] Instagram has just become a really big advertisement app,” she said. On Instagram, an app designed for visual content, brands get about three times more engagement than on Facebook, according to a 2018 article by Forbes. Instagram also recently updated their Explore page, a function of the app that allows users to view brands and content outside of the user they follow. 

Sophomore Ryan Braat estimates that of the 150 celebrities he follows on Instagram, there are only three he pays attention to when they post. He mentioned one celebrity in particular, Travis Scott, who has recently come out with a collaboration with the popular fast-food chain, McDonald’s. After learning about the collaboration from Scott’s Instagram, Braat ventured to his local McDonald’s to try the exclusive meal, a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, fries with barbecue sauce and a Sprite. Despite its celebrity appeal, he was not fond of it.

Junior Madison Peña had a more positive experience with buying products based on sponsored posts. After finding a discount code for a jewelry brand called Pura Vida on the account of a popular Instagram influencer, @dreaming_outloud, she bought a few bracelets from the company. Peña is pleased with her purchase. “I wear them every day,” she said in an email to The Coat of Arms.

Sophomore Ralston Raphael runs a popular TikTok account with more than 90,000 followers and a combined 4.1 million likes. Because of his popularity on TikTok, Raphael says he gets at least five emails a week from different people and companies that want him to create sponsored content for them.

He agreed to promote one of the brands, an LED light company, and has posted a personalized discount code for the LED light strips on his Snapchat account. However, he has yet to post anything for the brand on his TikTok account because he wants to make sure that when he does, he incorporates the product both in a meaningful way and in a way that fits the theme of his account.