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Social Media Influencers


The use of celebrity endorsements can be traced to the 1760s, when Josiah Wedgwood and Sons, manufacturers of pottery and chinaware, used royal endorsements to sell their products. The emergence of the film and television industries in the 20th century created a large group of recognizable actors that companies could hire to promote their products and services. Actors and other well-known personalities touted everything from cigarettes to Corvettes.

The creation of social media sites such as Facebook (which launched in 2004), YouTube (2005), Twitter (2006), Instagram (2010), SnapChat (2011), and TikTok (2016) have created an environment in which information, images, and video are constantly available for eager consumers. In recent years, everyday people with excellent writing, photography, or other creative skills; expertise in a particular area; and a winning personal story have begun to attract large numbers of followers on social media platforms. Companies realized that individuals who have large numbers of followers were perfect candidates to help sell their products and services. Some inspiring social media influencers also realized this potential payoff and began contacting companies to see if they could work together. As a result, the career of social media influencer emerged. 

Social media influencing is big business. In 2018, companies spent approximately $1.3 billion in marketing through Instagram alone, according to National Public Radio. More than 75 percent of Gen Z and Millennials follow influencers on social media, according to a survey by Morning Consult, a technology and media company.

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