It’s a term we hear more and more: influencer. If the definition of this new profession may seem obvious, there are however many nuances and particularities to take into account.
On social networks, they are everywhere: influencers. A vague word used all over the place to describe many different practices, the term influencer is often associated with a preconceived idea, that of a former reality TV star living in Dubai. There are influencers who fit this definition, but they are only a minority.
What is an influencer?
An influencer is a person creating content on the Internet, who enjoys a certain notoriety, and therefore has the power to influence his subscribers. The notion of notoriety can be broad: it can be a world star, or a well-known personality in a niche sector. There is not a certain number of subscribers to reach before being officially considered as such, but it is generally accepted that it takes several hundred thousand followers before you can live, full time, from the influence.
What is the purpose of an influencer?
Influencers regularly use their community on social networks to earn money, through partnerships with brands, or through salaries paid by platforms for their activity.
There is not only one social network that is concerned: you can be an influencer on Instagram, but also on TikTok, on YouTube, on LinkedIn, and even on Pinterest. All social networks have their own influencers.
What is the profession of influencer? What definition?
Officially, influencers are described by online influence law as ” people who, for remuneration or benefits in kind, mobilize their notoriety with their audience to communicate online content aimed at promoting, directly or indirectly, goods, services or any cause ».
Apart from this financial aspect, there are no strict characterizations. It is therefore difficult to give a precise definition of influencers. There is no minimum number of subscribers to reach, nor a particular platform to favor, nor a specific type of content to produce. It is also important to clarify that the law, for specific purposes, focuses on influencers receiving remuneration from brands for promoting them.
However, many influencers do not fit into this financial logic: some content creators are content with the income paid by the platforms, or donations from their fans, to survive. They don’t necessarily do product placement, but they are still considered influencers.
Instagram is the first social network that comes to mind when we think of influencers. We usually imagine former reality TV candidates living in Dubai, and offering their subscribers to buy dubious products. If they are not the most numerous, these influencers represent a very visible part of content creators because they often have several million fans.
Instagram remains, for many, the platform of choice for influencers. There are all kinds and all styles: cooks, athletes, artists, beauty specialists, good plan influencers, elegance professionals, or animals who have become famous. It is also on this platform that many people wishing to become influencers embark on Instagram.
Youtubers and steamers
YouTubers are influencers like any other, even if we rarely think of them in those terms. YouTubers are mostly seen as content creators — which they are. However, it is essential to take into account their immense popularity, which makes them real influencers, capable of influencing millions of people. In the United States, MrBeast, the most followed videographer in the world, has an undeniable influence. In France, Squeezie, the country’s most followed YouTuber, is certainly the best example: whether it’s music albums, comics, or sports competitions, everything he does is widely followed by his fans – at point where Amazon will dedicate a documentary to him.
The same goes for steamers. Some of them, like Zerator, are followed by huge communities of fans, and they organize large-scale events, such as the Z Event. On many levels, steamers and youtubers are stars and influencers like any other.
Micro influencers and nano influencers
Micro influencers, or nano influencers, reflect an emerging part of influence: that known as “ small influencers “. Less followed than the others, micro or nano influencers have nevertheless become very important for very specific communities.
There are micro influencers specializing in toys, plants, household appliances, or in a certain very specific type of content. They have “only” a few thousand fans, but since they are active in small communities, most of the time very close-knit and dynamic, these micro influencers can have a greater influence on their subscribers – which obviously interested in brands.
What law governs the activity of influencers?
A new law, enacted in June 2023, combats deceptive marketing practices by influencers. Among the new measures: better supervision of the profession, the prohibition of certain promotions and the restriction of promotions on certain themes (including crypto-currencies, NFTs, and alcohol), and the obligation to declare when photos are retouched.
The law has also put in place a process for French influencers who have moved to Dubai to continue to meet their obligation of transparency from abroad.
The DGCCRF, the general directorate for the repression of fraud, also carried out checks at the start of 2023 to see if influencers complied with the old rules. The body has already issued several injunctions and fines against influencers who have not respected the rules – and has said that the checks will continue.
The problems of influencers
Influencers have come under a lot of criticism in recent years. Rapper Booba has notably waged a virulent online war against “influence-thieves”, sometimes leading to cyber-harassment campaigns. The rapper and many others blamed influencers for promoting scams to their community, including dangerous products or banned medical procedures. A collective of influencer victims has also been set up to make the reproaches heard.
Numerous surveys of influencer abuse
Several surveys have shown in particular that influencers are failing in their transparency obligation in the case of paid publications. In January 2022, a Numerama survey had shown that nearly 4 out of 10 advertisements were not correctly indicated as such, and reported daily abuse. In May 2023, the DGCCRF also found that 60% of influencers broke the rules and concealed ads.
What is the role of influencer agencies?
More and more influencers are using agencies. These are companies that take care, in place of content creators, of managing their contacts with brands, negotiating salaries, representing influencers in certain frameworks, and more generally, serving as an interface between influencers and any requests they may receive from outside. Since the signing of the Influence Act in June 2023, the role of agencies has been strengthened and recognised.
Signing with an agency sometimes involves risks. Nevaly, a youtuber agency, has gone bankrupt, and for several months has been keeping the money it had to pay to its content creators for past advertising campaigns. Youtubers find themselves without any salary for several months, without being able to do much about it since they are not officially employees of the company.
How much do influencers earn on Snapchat, Instagram, Youtube or Twitch?
There is no answer to this question, as influencer compensation varies from creator to creator and platform to platform. The most modest are struggling to earn a living, while others have become millionaires thanks to their content. It is therefore very difficult to make an average at the level of wages – especially since it is not always a question of a permanent situation, and that the amounts can also vary from one month to another.
Who pays an influencer?
Influencers receive their income from several people and entities. In the case of influencers on Snapchat, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube, and Twitch, the platforms donate a portion of ad revenue to the creators. The percentage varies according to the social networks, as do the thresholds necessary to reach to be able to claim these sums of money.
Some also receive donations, through creator support platforms, such as Tipeee, Patreon, and formerly, uTip.
Finally, others receive money through campaigns with brands and for promoting certain products. For some, this represents the majority of their income, but it is once again difficult to generalize as the profession and profiles of content creators are so diverse.
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Feature photo credit: Canva
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