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How Many Influencers Are There in 2023? The Wild Rise of Online Influence

Influencers are taking over social media. From Instagram to TikTok, these digital creators have become the new celebrities. But in the age of viral fame, just how many influencers actually exist today? What does it take to join their exclusive ranks? And how much can they really earn from brand sponsorships?

As a tech-savvy streaming professional with my finger on the pulse of online video trends, I‘ve been fascinated by the meteoric rise of influencer marketing. In this post, we‘ll dive deep into the latest stats and trends in the wild world of influencers. Buckle up for an inside look at the burgeoning industry taking social media by storm!

Just How Many Influencers Are There?

Influencers have gone from a niche online phenomenon to a pop culture staple. But the barrier to entry for wanna-be influencers remains relatively low. All you technically need is a smartphone and creative vision.

Recent industry estimates put the number of social media influencers globally at a staggering 50 million and counting! This represents exponential growth from just a few years prior.

Driving this influx is the sheer profitability of influencing. Today over a third of female teenagers aspire to become social media stars rather than doctors or lawyers. And it‘s easy to see why. Top influencers easily make millions yearly from brand sponsorships alone. In an age of viral fame, who needs medical school?

But rather than saturated, the industry remains highly stratified. Let‘s break down the tiers of influence on social media‘s top platforms:

Instagram‘s Influencer Hierarchy

With over 2 billion monthly users, Instagram remains the holy grail for influencer stardom. The app boasts the largest and most lucrative influencer marketplace.

Here‘s a breakdown of Instagram‘s influencer hierarchy based on follower count:

  • Mega-Influencers – 1M+ followers
  • Macro-Influencers – 500K-1M followers
  • Mid-Tier Influencers – 50K-500K followers
  • Micro-Influencers – 10K-50K followers
  • Nano-Influencers – 1K-10K followers

Instagram is home to over 40,000 mega influencers in the 1 million+ club. But mid-tier influencers with 50K-500K followers make up the site‘s core creator base, numbering around 2 million strong.

Meanwhile over 37 million nano and micro-influencers have managed to build followings of 1K-10K organically. But this group earns pennies on the dollar compared to elite influencers.

The Rapid Rise of TikTok Stars

While Instagram remains the status quo, TikTok has emerged as its key rival by spearheading short-form video. The Chinese app now boasts over 1 billion monthly active users globally after exploding in popularity.

This massive audience has fueled the rise of TikTok‘s own homegrown influencers. Leading the pack are the TikTok Top 100, who individually boast follower counts from 44 million to 125 million!

Centennials gravitated rapidly to these funny and creative TikTokers who feel far more relatable than polished Instagram stars. Expect the number of sponsored TikTok influencers to multiply exponentially in 2023 and beyond.

The OG Media: YouTube

While its growth has slowed, we can‘t forget the OG media platform that started it all. YouTube remains the second most popular search engine and #2 social media platform, driving over 2 billion logged-in monthly users.

YouTube gave birth to the first breakout creators like PewDiePie, Jenna Marbles, and Smosh who pioneered the influencer model starting in the 2010s.

However, the platform skews less towards influencer sponsorships compared to Instagram and TikTok. Top YouTubers often rely more on ad revenue, merch sales, and fan donations rather than brand deals. Still, about 500,000+ YouTube channels today have over 100,000 subscribers.

The Emerging Influencer Economy

So we‘ve established there are millions of influencers across social platforms battling for relevance. But how much are they actually earning from this new economy? Let‘s analyze some stats:

  • Nano-influencers charge around $100 per sponsored post on average.
  • Micro-influencers charge $500 to $2000 per post based on their niche and audience.
  • Mid-tier influencers charge around $5000 to $10,000 per post thanks to their higher engagement.
  • Top-tier mega influencers on YouTube or Instagram can charge well over $10,000 per post!

But sponsored posts are just one stream of income. Lucrative brand ambassador deals, merchandise lines, fan donations and platform ad revenue allow elite influencers to make tens of millions per year!

For example, Kylie Jenner reportedly makes $1.2 million per sponsored Instagram post thanks to her 332 million followers and unrivaled influence. Not bad for a day‘s work!

Tracking The Explosive Growth

The rise of the influencer economy has been rapid. Just look at the hockey stick growth in influencer marketing spending:

2019 – $2.42 billion
2020 – $2.90 billion (+20% YoY)
2021 – $3.90 billion (+34.7% YoY)
2022 – $4.99 billion (+27.8% YoY)

This meteoric growth has been fueled by brands shifting more marketing dollars to influencer sponsorships vs. traditional ads.

In 2022 alone, U.S. brands spent a whopping $2.23 billion on Instagram influencer sponsorships. This far outpaced investments on YouTube ($950 million) and TikTok ($750 million).

But TikTok is gaining quick with projections of over $1 billion being spent on creators in 2023.

Overall, influencer marketing spend is forecasted to keep growing at an average 20% YoY rate, reaching $7.14 billion in 2024 in the U.S. alone!

Fraud and Fakery in the Industry

However, these mouth-watering projections rely on influencers delivering actual ROI. And the reality is more complex.

The dark underbelly of influencer marketing is rampant use of fake followers, bots, and purchased engagement. Studies suggest 10-15% of influencer followers on average are likely fake or fraudulent.

This can drastically skew audience quality and enable inflated sponsorship pricing.

Brands must vet influencers thoroughly and analyze engagement rates vs follower counts. Quality original content and reasonable engagement rates signal authenticity.

But many brands still end up wasting millions annually on influencer partnerships with little tangible impact or sales boost. Others face PR crises when partnering with influencers embroiled in controversy.

The Future of Influence

Even with its growing pains, it‘s clear the influencer economy is here to stay. Spending and influencer numbers will likely keep rising rapidly in 2023 and beyond.

Instagram will continue to lead the way thanks to its unrivaled scale and monetization tools like Instagram Shopping.

But short-form video apps like TikTok and YouTube Shorts will continue gaining ground as more brands embrace viral video campaigns.

The key for aspiring influencers will be standing out in an increasingly crowded field. This requires mastering algorithms, understanding audience niches, and cultivating authentic engagement.

For those able to make it, the rewards promise to be immense. But influencing fame comes with its downsides too. Lower tier influencers still struggle to profit. Cyberbullying and mental health issues run rampant. And stars often feel immense pressure to remain relevant day-to-day.

But for now, the allure of internet fame continues to entice millions to post that next selfie or dance video. The age of the social media influencer is clearly far from its conclusion. Buckle up for the ride to come!



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.