Down the Rabbit Hole

I thought it would be fitting to start off my first blog post with a bit of recent news. 

Just two days ago and for the first time, Forbes released what it called its “Top Influencers” list, ranking the top thirty global social media icons. The 30 “influencers” span three categories – beauty, fitness, and home – and they garner more than 250 million online followers (Shayon, 2017). This doesn’t merely entail thirty kids sitting at the cool table during lunch; these influencers currently earn up to thousands of dollars per sponsored social media post (Perez, 2017). 

For instance, in first place for the beauty category is British Influencer Zoella. Online, she has over 11.6 million YouTube subscribers. In real life, her popularity has allowed her to have her own line of candles, lotions and beauty accessories (Shayon, 2017). But online is still where she makes most of her money. On YouTube, companies pay more than $300,000 per video for a partnership (Shayon, 2017). This could entail Maybelline paying Zoella to create a makeup tutorial featuring exclusively Maybelline products. A Forbes spokesperson explains that highly visual platforms like YouTube and Instagram are coveted by companies seeking brand partnerships (Shayon, 2017). 

Screenshot of Zoella's Instagram post
An Instagram post by Zoella promoting a single company.

Screenshot of Zoella's YouTube video

 A YouTube video where Zoella talks about her favorite products. In the description box, there are affiliate links where viewers may purchase the same products. 

If we define an “influential user” as someone who’s sharing action results in at least one additional site visit, then the average amount of influential users on a site at a given time is only 0.6%. Yet, these influencers regularly generate up to 50% of site traffic (Hall, 2010). Moreover, they cause a signifiant share of conversions. 

“It’s time to recognize the influencer economy as a legitimate entrepreneurial pursuit.” – Christina Vuleta, VP of Forbes Women’s Digital Network.

Social media influencing works well because the influencers have already built entire communities of like-minded members. These influencers go beyond the mould of the traditional brand sponsor – they’ve curated a careful market around their passions and lives. Their audience has genuine affinity for the words they say. 

Nowadays with the younger generation in the western world, there is a decreasing sense of nationalistic patriotism. Especially compared to decades past. A young person today may feel much more connected to their community on YouTube, for example, and much less connected to their physical neighborhood community. The influencer culture is born from this phenomenon. In fact, the entire industry has been created by brands that leverage these influences to reach the most passionate, relevant markets. The value of a “like” or a “follower” is intangible, but the results are very much real. 

~ Stay tuned for part two, where we’ll talk about Amazon’s recent innovation in influencer marketing and what it means for consumers. ~


Shayon, Sheila. (April 11, 2017). Forbes Announces First Class of Social Media Influencers. BrandChannel. Retrieved from

Perez, Sarah. (March 31, 2017). Amazon quietly launches its own social media influencer program into beta. Tech Crunch. Retrieved from

Hall, Taddy. (2010). How consumer attitudes and behaviours are shaped in social media. ARF Experiential Learning. Retrieved from 


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