It’s 2022. In between checking your holographic watch messages and laughing at the hair in your #tbt from 2015, you scroll down the integrated news feed feature on your iPhone 12S. The top headline reads:
24-Year-Old Vine Star Inks Record-Breaking Seven-Figure Endorsement Deal with Coca-Cola
Not only does the soft-drink giant want a chance to reach the young funnyman’s 20.5 million followers, but it’s willing to sign him to a multiclip deal over the course of six months– gone are the days of Viners getting paid a “measly” $25K to $100K for a single 6-second video!
In 2022, a full-blown social media star (with 5M+ followers) can command upwards of $500K from advertisers. Both their follower counts AND endorsement deals now usually dwarf (or match) those of Hollywood’s biggest draws, professional athletes, and reality TV stars. Their origins are truly organic, their followers as loyal as those of any legacy brand, and they’ve redefined “celebrity” status as we know it…
This future full of homegrown, social media mega-stars may sound more like something out of a Vine from King Bach, but take heed: they’re set to reach levels of influence that we have yet to witness. A current list of the biggest social media-star endorsement paydays reads as such:
- Chris Carm– reportedly a six-figure salary, potentially up to $1,500 a day, for sponsored posts on Snapchat
While these numbers reflect only the top tier on the list of earners, there are a bevy of rising, up-and-coming personalities bursting onto the scene, paving the way for future stars to captivate audiences. How they are able to command such big paydays (and how they’ll compete with the endorsement power of a Lebron James or Kim Kardashian in the future) is not rocket science…
The connection between, say a Youtube star and their fans, begins as a personal one between maker and viewer. What culminates in a huge following, started out as a truly organic and intimate (in the realm of social media, anyway) conversation. It created a loyal, relatable, unforced, and genuine connection–the kind that every brand hopes to replicate. Their audiences are comprised mostly of a young, digitally-native population, who most marketers know as “Gen Z.” This population segment (worth a potentially $44 billion in spending money) appreciates the ability to create their own media and sharing it amongst peers for approval– the very encapsulation of what a 6-second Vine is.
Social media stars produce content that can outperform one-shot ads and television spots, as far as getting audiences to willingly tune in (and not having to deal with commercial time), subscribing to new content, and distributing trackable content via social sharing. Those advantages, combined with their consistent voices, relatability, and the luxury of having their private lives far from intruding cameras that follow Hollywood’s stars (controversy-free), allow a level of trust with Gen Z that will only strengthen as time goes on. The growth in trust will not only parallel their audience’s gradual increase in size, but also the amount they spend and their spending behaviors, which tend to trickle down to every other generation eventually (it’s Slingshotting 101).
Who’s to say that in a matter of 10 years or so, most of the population (Gen Z, or otherwise), won’t be ditching cable TV, in favor of being entertained by their favorite social media personality on their respective platforms? The ongoing trend of cord-cutting is already leading us down this path. Not only does this lead to less time devoted to commercials, but it reduces the amount of TV facetime given to traditional celebs in the process. This, in turn, helps lower their endorsement value and overall influence, in addition to decreasing the value of once heavily-sought-after advertising spots. If the influence of social media platforms and mobile devices are bound to be more massive than that of the TV set in a matter of years, does it not make sense that the reach and endorsement value of social media stars will eventually eclipse that of traditional Hollywood actresses and athletes?
The idea of Coca-Cola shelling out millions more for a mention on PewDie Pie’s YouTube channel than for a star-laced Super Bowl spot might seem far fetched at the moment, but you can bet your holographic watch that it’s soon to be a reality in a matter of years. Don’t believe me? Just watch.