The rise of social media has not only changed how we communicate and digest information in the 21st century, it has also changed brand marketing, product promotion and content creation. This has lead to the birth of individuals who define their role as being an ‘influencer’.
A social media influencer can be defined as an individual with a social media following who garners high engagement through their large audience and are therefore thought of as having a significant amount of influence.
This may include vloggers, bloggers or fashionable Instagram models who use their platform in a variety of ways. The influence of social media influencers is often seen through their shared ability to start and drive trends or to be used in collaboration with brands as a marketing tool. In return, many influencers are able to generate a sufficient income.
Many social media influencers are likely to also be students
Kat Richardson, creative director of an influencer marketing agency, said that “once you get to 30,000 followers, for a fashion or beauty post, you could be looking at around £750 (per post)”.
With rising university costs and living expenses, it’s pretty unsurprising that a third of Generation Z (people born between 1995-2015) now choose professional influencer as an aspiration, ranking well above becoming an actor or musician.
A 2019 analysis of more than three million Instagram ad posts found that 31% of influencers creating sponsored posts on Instagram were between the ages of 18 and 24. This means that many social media influencers are likely to also be students who manage to fit their social media work around their studies. But how and why do they do it?
It’s an opportunity to motivate fellow students while getting your own assignments done
One student YouTuber, Rachel Catherine, who boasts 160,000 subscribers and records content such as weekly lifestyle vlogs, advised that student influencers should prioritise academic work and then use the remaining time they have to focus on content creating and posting online. Another word of advice given was to ensure you take breaks between posting on social media to prevent feeling burnt out.
Other YouTubers, popularly known as study vloggers, amalgamate their social influence with their undergraduate or college studies by creating ‘study with me’ vlogs and relatable videos centred around university life. The reasoning behind wanting to become a vlogger of this kind seems clear – it’s an opportunity to motivate fellow students while getting your own assignments done, with the benefit of a side income from sponsorships.
They share a large part of their life with their social media following
Instagram models are another popular type of student influencer. These are young, attractive individuals who gain a following through consistent and usually sponsored posts of themselves in highly fashionable outfits or using embedded marketing techniques to promote items such as skincare or teeth whitening products. This type of influencer is different. They share a large part of their life with their social media following and so I wonder what their fellow students think about how they choose to make a living.
Most students have no problem with it at all. “The education system is already highly marketised so if influencers are able to make some money back then there’s really no problem,” said a first year student I interviewed.
Another student described being an influencer, specifically being a study vlogger, as a “win-win situation” where you get to “earn money and build a portfolio for yourself.”
Don’t let social media distract you from what you are at university for – your degree
However, another con of putting so much of your life online seems clear to most of us. With many influencers heavily scrutinised for their mistakes, the pressure to constantly be perfect is pretty high.
From what I have seen, the benefits of being a student influencer are definitely there, if it’s something you are interested in doing, but you must remember it takes time and consistency. So, those looking to build a name for themselves online should centre their social media presence around things they are passionate enough about to consistently produce content for. Most importantly, don’t let social media distract you from what you are at university for – your degree.