Riches and ROI: How Do Influencers Make Money and Are People Really Buying What They’re Selling? 
Fri, December 3, 2021

Riches and ROI: How Do Influencers Make Money and Are People Really Buying What They’re Selling? 

Influencers and YouTubers make up most of the online world these days. Even though the internet is global and there are millions of people online on a daily basis, influencers and YouTubers are always at the forefront of the internet / Photo by: Roman Samborskyi via 123RF

 

Influencers and YouTubers make up most of the online world these days. Even though the internet is global and there are millions of people online on a daily basis, influencers and YouTubers are always at the forefront of the internet. Whether by name or through surfing YouTube and Instagram, people know who they are. 

They may not have gone through the traditional path of a Hollywood star, but their ascent to the top -- to the point of brand collaboration -- has made them the most desired marketers for companies in recent years. But more than that, how much do influencers and YouTubers make for being constantly active online? And for influencers who work closely with brands, what’s a pesky thing called “ROI” and how does this affect an influencer? 

Making Money 

We all know the standard way in which influencers make money; through endorsements and deals with companies, and then sponsored content and videos, it’s easy to see where they earn their keep. The only question left is how much they make exactly, and how different platforms measure the amount of money to give them. 

According to business news website Business Insider, the amount of money made depends on several factors. Even if you’ve already decided to work with brands for sponsored content on sites like YouTube or Pinterest, the rate still changes depending on facturs such as the nature of the content and its reach. 

Pinterest is perhaps the site on the furthest from most aspiring influencer’s mind, seeing as how Instagram is the name of the game. But Pinterest influencer Erica Chan Coffman, armed with her 6.2 million followers, can make anywhere from $500 to $1,500 per sponsored pin. These rates only change based on “what board she’s posting, the amount of graphics works required to create the pin, and whether it’s long or short-form content.” 

We all know the standard way in which influencers make money; through endorsements and deals with companies, and then sponsored content and videos, it’s easy to see where they earn their keep / Photo by: Roman Samborskyi via 123RF

 

On the YouTube front, big-name YouTubers like David Dobrik said in an interview that he usually makes about $2,000 a month from YouTube on a 10 million-view video. But in general, YouTubers can make anywhere between $2,000 and $40,000, again, depending on a variety of factors. 

Some of these factors include: how long viewers watch it, the length of the video, the number of ads it contains, viewer demographics, etc. 

According to news and opinion website HuffPost, some influencers make thousands to hundreds of thousands, which is the range of rates earned by influencers. Like YouTube and Pinterest, rates of influencers on Instagram vary wildly, too. A big earner, Valeria Hinojosa, told HuffPost that she would usually make $150,000 to $200,000 a year mostly on Instagram sponsored content. 

Mallory Cornelison, another influencer, shared that she is usually able to make $12,000 a year from social media. Her sponsorships usually oscillate between $5,000 to $7,000. 

The Matter of ROI 

By now, it’s safe to assume that most influencers make money from brands paying them to promote the use of the company’s products or services, but what about the fundamental ROI, or “return of investment,” which, for companies, is an important measure of the success of a marketing campaign? 

At AdAge, a global media brand focusing on analysis, news, and data, writer Kevin Twomey has some reservations on the validity of influencer marketing and its true importance to marketing and advertising. 

Twomey pointed out the ROI, an elephant in the room for anyone who sees these brands being endorsed by their favorites on Instagram only for the products to do poorly on actual sales. Twomey said that it had been easy for companies to buy into influencer marketing because of the statistic that 92% of consumers usually turn to people they know regarding any kind of product, and that by extension, that kind of tactic is usually mimicked by influencers. 

By 2022, companies would have funneled about $15 billion into this nascent industry, but Twomey reiterated the conversation of the ROI, which is something that brands have also been monitoring. 

A recent survey from Talkwalker found that there seems to be a duality in the situation, because while 69% of respondents deemed influencer marketing as “an important strategy or a top strategic priority,” 84% were also aware that “demonstrating the ROI of influencer marketing is a challenge that still can’t be proven.” 

The survey, which was also elaborated on in an article by Canadian marketing website Strategy Online, 61% of respondents still aim to invest in influencer marketing. Aside from the challenge of understanding the ROI of influencers, respondents also said that some challenges also lie in the identification of “influencers who could have the best impact,” which 22% of respondents said was the next challenge to the demonstration of ROI, while finding creative ways to collaborate with influencers plague 16% of the respondents. 

On Strategy Online, CEO Americas of Talkwalker Todd Grossman describes this mismatch between ROI and company intent to be the biggest gap in the influencer marketing industry. It seems Twomey was right when he implied that maybe companies may have jumped the gun without proper systems in place, seeing as how “many of them [companies] haven’t yet developed a reliable measurement and management strategy, which makes planning and tracking these types of campaigns more difficult,” Grossman says. 

Case in point, 63% of respondents admitted that they do not have the tools in place to monitor the impact influencers really have on their potential clientele. After all, though trust is essential in building a rapport with a customer these days, the proof is still in the pudding, as it were, with ROI being the pudding in this situation. 

Despite all these caveats, brands are still willing to work with influencers. Seventy-two respondents said that they were currently working with 50 influencers of less, which is already a lot of influencers at once. Stephen Davies, a London-based social media specialist, said that the statistic shows that companies are not only willing to work with influencers but that they feel like it is substantial to also build long-term relationships with them.