Influencer marketing (Economics of a $10 Billion Industry)

When you hear the word “influencer” the first thing which comes to your mind is social media and the people who promote, endorse, and swears by a certain product or service to their followers. BUT if we do some digging influencers or so-called influencer marketing is not something new to this world and in fact, it goes all the way back to the mid-1700s.

It all started with a Tea brand

A tea set manufacturing brand called “Wedgwood” created a tea set for King George III and this enables them to advertise that their brand was “Royally Approved”. Ring any bells already? how the “give me a product for free and I will post a story about it” came to the world in the first place, but wait let's not get ahead of ourselves. This is just the beginning of the 10$ Billion industry, and it's bout to get a whole lotta interesting.

Mark Twain, The Rock of 1800s

Yes Mark Twain the guy who wrote Tom Sawyer and many other popular books, was the face of products such as cigars, pens, and even whiskey.

Is Santa red because of Coca-Cola's influence? actually, people did think so back in the 1900s(which is obviously not true ) as they used Santa freaking Clause as the mascot to promote their brand, and they were super successful with this campaign which only brought them even closer to the general public. Yeah, Coca-Cola was way ahead of the game compared to their competition.

The year 1930 — Celebrity endorsements the dawn of a new wave.

Babe Ruth was the first-ever celebrity athlete who was paid to endorse a brand, this paved the way for Hollywood stars in the 1940s, and this trend of endorsing celebrities to promote brands quickly grew faster as in the 1960s it exploded with the with colored television been widely accessible in America.

Yes, I will talk about the celebrity endorsement with M.J no not the dancing one but the flying one.

Micheal “Air” Jordan the man, who put Nike on the map signed his first sponsorship deal in the 1980s with Nike for an amount worth $250K which seemed a crazy amount at the time. But well hey we all know how that investment turned out for Nike. To put it into context Nike expected to sell $3 Million worth of Air Jordan in year one and they sold 126 million worth of Jordans in their first year! The M.J Nike relationship is so amazing that it deserves its own article.

The 2000s —Now you can “Broadcast Yourself”(how the internet gave voice and brought fame to regular people)

With the birth of Youtube, a very selected amount people started expressing themselves over Youtube, even though ads were introduced after 4 years of the birth of Youtube. Content creation was out there and was meant for anyone but it wasn't for everyone, up until the introduction of fan pages on Facebook, and in 2010 it completely changed the game by blowing out the barriers to entry of content creation with the introduction of Instagram, enabling the power of publishing to your palm with just a few clicks!

Wow, nice capture! but hey from where did you bought your camera?

It didn't took a rocket scientist to figure out that the very own follower base which was gathered online around for various types of people posting various types of pictures on various niches can be leveraged to make money, and hey it is been found out that a staggering 92% of people buy products and services which are recommended to them by the people who they are more closer to.

Modern-day — The rise and growth of social media influencers

When we talk about social media influencers in the year 2021, the industry within has grown and expanded to a point where we get to know and identify about 3 main categories where these influencers mainly fall into mega-influencers, macro-influencers, and micro-influencers these 3 categories comprise world-famous athletes, movie stars, Kardashian clan, high profile models, Youtube personalities to everyday regular people who now can leverage their follower base in order to promote products or services with the exchange of money or free products and services for their own use.


Well as you might already know influencers and their influence on social media users is not sunshine and rainbows as very few actually know what they are doing and selling to their followers many just do it as a hustle to get a quick buck out of the people who trust them with their recommendations. As the never-ending and now more fast-paced race to acquire “Clout” and “Fame” is growing throughout social media I will save the dark side of this whole industry, participants of this game, and its effects on society for a story for another time.

According to, their data reveals a 3.2 million — 37.8 million estimation for the total number of influencers on Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. Which builds more interest and excitement to become one and might even influence an individual to say “Mama, I wanna become an Influencer!”




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Vihanga Perera

Vihanga Perera

A kid with passion for improving the quality of experience and satisfaction through design

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