Sponsored posts on the rise for influencers: study

A recent study by Influence Central found that Canadian social influencers are overwhelmingly female, highly educated and getting savvier about branded deals.

It’s no surprise that social influencers are making money, forging legitimate careers and forming meaningful brand connections. What may come as a surprise is that social influencers aren’t just ambitious twenty-somethings making money through online makeup tutorials and unboxing videos. A recent study from Canadian influencer marketing firm Influence Central found that most of the country’s top influencers are in their 30s.

The study was the first full deep dive into the Canadian influencer market since Influence Central’s first major report in 2013. More than 120 influencers based in Canada were surveyed online in early 2017, and respondents were selected based on the size of their online footprint.

The average age of Canada’s bloggers and social influencers is 34 years old, as compared to 38 in 2013 — this change was partially the result of expanding the survey to look beyond blogging platforms and onto all aspects of social media such as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

But it also helps that there are more opportunities for influencers to make good money and connections.

Sponsored posts are on the rise — 61% of influencers said they have seen an increase in branded campaigns in the last year. Respondents reported an average of 16 branded campaigns per year. Additionally, 14% said they engage in sponsored campaigns 31 to 50 times per year, while 11% said they’ve participated in more than 50 branded campaigns per year.

But Stacy DeBroff, CEO of Influence Central, said despite the volume of branded campaigns going up, influencers aren’t just taking whatever is offered to them — she noted that they seem to know their worth and be more savvy about the industry and are able to negotiate better deals than before.

“I think that the professionalism of the [social] space has really gone up,” she said. “As that goes, up, these influencers are getting a stronger idea of what their threshold of engagement is, they have a good handle on their analytics and reach, what the market value is. They’re getting better at finding their ‘happy spot’ for posts, and they’re more likely to say, ‘for me, a recipe post costs $400 and that’s what I’m comfortable with.’”

Although brand work is on an uptick, influencers still tend to be more self-styled in how they grow their presence and find an audience. While 62% said they have worked with a social influencer marketing agency, 62% work with a PR firm and 38% said they work with an ad network, 71% said they use connecting with other influencers to reach bigger audiences, 70% monitor social media and content in their niche for trends and inspiration, and 69% reach new audiences from publishing and commenting on social platforms.

Additionally, 17% say they have written articles for traditional news outlets and 8% said they have engaged in public speaking and event appearances to reach out.

The most popular topic for influencers to cover is product reviews (84%), followed by the general “lifestyle” topic (83%). Food recipes come in third at 79%, followed by parenting (63%), fitness, health and wellness (52%), home decor and design (39%), fashion (28%), “green” living (21%) and couponing (15%),

Additionally, 38% defined their topics as falling into the “other” category, and Influence Central noted that travel was one of the most popular verticals as part of that umbrella.

Influencers are overwhelmingly female — Influence Central found that 96% of the influencers were female, and that the average influencer had two children (average age of 10.4). While most of the influencers surveyed in the 2013 study were parents, Influence Central noted that the number of influencers without any children had grown to 15% (from less than 10%).

But  DeBroff told MiC one of the most defining qualities of Canadian influencers is that they are educated. “We found that even more so than in the U.S., Canadian influencers value education,” she said. “About 92% of them have some sort of post-secondary education and many more are going on to advanced degrees.”

That number has risen significantly from 2013, when 80% boasted post-secondary education.

As the rate of higher education in influencers grows, so does the number of influencers leaving behind their traditional careers.

This year, 84% of influencers say they currently or previously had a career outside of blogging and social media — a decline from 2013, when that total was 90%. DeBroff said it represents an era of blogging and social media being seen as more than just a hobby.

“Nearly 50% of them see their work as a full-time job,” she said. “In the beginning, most of them just wanted to make some money. More are discovering that it’s an incredible way to be flexible, to work from home, to build a career.”

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