The rise in social media influencers – a trend or fad?

influencer recording video in front of camera

In 2022, the influencer marketing industry was valued at approximately USD 16.5 billion. It is predicted that the global influencer marketing platform will touch USD 85 billion by 2028, with 2023 being no exception to this astronomical growth. Another survey has predicted a 25% annual growth rate for the influencer marketing industry. So, what are the factors driving the phenomenal growth of influencer marketing? Let us take a closer look.

An astronomical number of people have quit their jobs in the US and other parts of the world since the pandemic started. Increasing stress and tiredness, a lack of work-life balance, and extended emotional and mental stress induced by the pandemic are thought to be the contributing factors to this great resignation drive. Many companies laid off employees due to the pandemic and the consequent cost-cutting measures.

A social media influencer

Many of these people, who either resigned from their jobs due to the pandemic-induced burnout or were laid off by the companies, found a better job in the same industry, while some even changed their work domains. However, a surprisingly high number of such people decided to try their hands at becoming social media influencers, resulting in a new job trend. This trend is popular even today and is gaining traction every day. Thousands of people who already have full-time jobs in their hands are considering quitting their jobs to become social media influencers or taking it on as a side hustle (and an additional source of income).

So, what is influencer marketing after all?

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the definition of the word influence (noun) goes like this: the power to change or affect someone or something: the power to cause changes without directly forcing them to happen. The verb form of “influence” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) typically means “to affect or change someone or something in an indirect but usually important way.” An “influencer” is “a person with the ability to entice prospective consumers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media,” as per the Oxford Dictionary.

Influencer marketing blends both modern and conventional marketing strategies. The idea of celebrity endorsement is integrated with contemporary content-driven marketing strategies. Businesses partners with a social media celebrity to advertise one of its products or services by means of influencer marketing.

A brief history of influencer marketing:

While ‘influencer’ in itself is not something new to the world, it is the union of ‘marketing’ and ‘influencer’ that has triggered a new concept and gained rapid momentum in the last 2 decades.

Many claims that ‘influencer marketing’ started way back in the 18th century or even in the medieval ages. For practical purposes and relevance’s sake, we will consider the history from the time when the internet was born. The birth of the internet in the 1990s saw the dawn of the ‘digital era’ of marketing, which laid the foundations for ‘social media marketing’ (a type of digital marketing) and, subsequently, ‘influencer marketing’ in the mid-2000s.

Representational image of blogging-vlogging

Celebrity endorsements were a big thing in the 80s and 90s since they had mass fan followings and could influence their fans’ decision-making while making purchases. This thought was effectively put to use by the brands by partnering with celebrities to market their products. However, as smartphones became advanced and social media connected people’s lives, the influencer was born. In comparison to the celebrities, the common man felt more connected to the influencers, who were normal people like you and me. Hence, the influencer marketing concept started gaining popularity, and it was not long before companies took note of this.

In the initial years of the internet, the concept of ‘blogging’ was born, wherein bloggers used to create and share content about their interests such as travel, parenting, and food, to name a few, which ultimately gave rise to a whole new niche called ‘lifestyle’. Soon, blogging became popular, and brands partnered with such bloggers to market their products, in return for a good incentive. In 2010, social media came into existence which took the internet by storm and Millions of users got on the social media bandwagon. The term ‘influencer’ gained a lot of popularity in the early 2010s. Thus, influencer marketing grew from the early years when bloggers were getting paid to create content for brands, to the end of the last decade, when about 86% of brands began setting aside a part of their marketing budget for influencer marketing.

Current scenario of Influencer Marketing:


The lure of influencer marketing:

New social media platforms are getting launched almost every year with new ideas for content creation and engagement possibilities for users. Some of these platforms grew exponentially within a very short time, amassing a mind-boggling number of users. Influencers smart enough to catch the early trend earned a huge and loyal fan base. Brands are using such influencers to reach out to their large audience, hoping to turn them into customers and generate more sales. In 2019, the word ‘influencer’ was officially added to the ‘Oxford Dictionary’ indicating the high prevalence of the word’s usage in daily life. Then, the pandemic taught us that most traditional marketing strategies are ineffective for the modern audience. At the same time, the pandemic period also witnessed several new influencers (aka social media celebrities) coming to the limelight. Today, influencer marketing is enormous and getting bigger and bigger with each passing year.

The trends which are shaping the influencer marketing industry:

These are some of the trends that will drive the social media influencer industry in 2023 and beyond.

1. Successful content creators with multiple social media accounts have fans following them across all the platforms

2. The interconnection between affiliate marketing and influencer marketing and the differences between the two are increasingly getting blurred.

3. The ever-growing love for video content fuelled by the upgrade to high-speed internet technology.

4. ‘Live shopping’ which started two years ago and is growing in popularity is a new trend to look out for. It is already acknowledged by e-commerce brands that have launched tools for live shopping on their respective platforms and formed partnerships with content creators.

5. A higher engagement and conversion rate due to the deep connection with their audience made by content creators with a few thousand (Nano and Micro-Influencers) followers, is making them the darlings of brands.

6. Brands looking for long-term partnerships instead of one-time projects

7. Marketers shelling out more money on influencer marketing

8. Performance-based deals may become more popular

9. Increase in the number of niche influencers who are experts in their field or a particular topic

The Perks of Being a Social Media Influencer:


Here are some of the benefits which are attracting more and more people to become social media influencers.

1. Flexibility of work: First and foremost, there is no specific time frame within which you are required to work. In other words, you are no longer employed by someone who sets the rules for you. Influencers get to decide their working hours and leisure time, which allows them to enjoy a healthy work-life balance.

2. Freedom to choose your work: As an influencer, you are free to choose your niche or area of interest, from food to cooking, travel and leisure, beauty and wellness, clothing, technology, and many other topics.

3. Collaborating with top brands: Once you decide on your niche and build your identity, you can get an opportunity to work with popular and well-established brands in the area of your interest and get to promote them.

4. Freebies and promotional events: You get to receive products from collaborating brands for promotional purposes and also a chance to participate in the events organised by them, where you can build your business connections and collaborate with prospective brands.

5. Being an inspiration to others: If you are successful as an influencer in building a loyal fan base for yourselves, you can inspire a thousand others and build communities of like-minded people to connect, share, and inspire others.

The following are the cons:

1. Expectations and behaviour: Influencers are expected to post on social media regularly and consistently, failing which the engagement rates may fall. The audience also expects the influencers to act and behave in a certain way, both online and offline. So, the influencers need to be alert constantly. Audiences tend to get easily disappointed if the influencers are unable to live up to their expectations.

2. Criticism and trolling: As the saying goes, it is not possible to please everyone. The risk of criticism and trolling is always lurking around the corner for every influencer. So, being an influencer takes a lot of courage and patience to handle criticism.

3. Uncertainty of career: The competition in influencer marketing is fierce, and hence the influencer needs to always be creative and come up with new content ideas to engage and grow their audience. Influencers often earn their income through short campaigns, and hence they are supposed to be on the lookout for new brand partnerships and long-term partnerships to ensure financial stability and achieve their goals.

4. Authenticity and trust: It takes a lot of time and effort to grow as an influencer, but only seconds to lose credibility. So, influencers need to be cautious about what they share.


Like any other regular job, social media influencer marketing too comes with its share of merits and demerits. Hence, it will be interesting to see how long this trend will survive. Only time will prove if it is a ‘real trend’ or just ‘a fad’. As of now, there are no signs of the trend slowing down soon.

Blog by Amith Raj S

Interested to learn more about social media influencers? Please check these articles:

1 in 3 social media users say influencers are strong advocates for addiction awareness, reveals survey

Video Content: An Essential Norm in the Influencer Market


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