Deep Dive: 13 Things We Learnt About The Influencer Ecosystem In 2023 Increasingly, influencers are replacing celebrities, whether it is in advertisements, brand promotions, collaborations and much more.

By Kabir Singh Bhandari

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Increasingly, influencers are replacing celebrities, whether it is in advertisements, brand promotions, collaborations and much more. But what are the different kinds of influencers? What is the demographics of those following them? Where will the next big creator come from? These and more are questions which have been answered through detailed reports, along with interactions with the top influencer marketing agencies, Youtubers and influencers themselves.

So here are 13 things we learnt about the influencer ecosystem in 2023:

1. Influencer categories can be distinguished into three groups namely - large (more than 500,000 followers), medium (200,000 to 500,000 followers), and small (50,000 to 200,000 followers) base influencers. Influencers can have different categories of follower bases depending on their niche, style, and content.

2. Marketers use influencer marketing on social media platforms to build positive brand evaluations. These influencers often have high viewership and a large following of people who pay close attention to their content. 60% of the respondents are aware of the influencers on social media platforms. Half of them do not follow them, while the other half consider their suggestions and recommendations when making a purchase decision.

Most females belonging to the next five metros are aware of the influencers but do not follow them. Male audiences are also aware of the influencers on social media platforms and would consider their recommendations and suggestions.

3. The increased social media usage in rural India, especially among housewives and kids, serves as an important development of empowerment and is a growing channel to enhance brand awareness or even social equity.

4. Due to the high penetration of social media, influencers have become crucial for promoting brands and selling products. They are a vital aspect of an effective marketing strategy. The content produced by influencers has a significant impact on customer behaviour.

5. Therefore, it is important that their content aligns with the brand's niche and values. These influencers have a presence across various social media platforms. A majority of their followers follow them on Instagram (45%), YouTube (40%), and Snapchat (27%). This is followed by Facebook (20%), Twitter (16%), Sharechat (15%), and Meesho (14%).

6. Most of the people belonging to the age group of 18 years to 24 years and residing in the five metros follow social media influencers on Instagram. Respondents within the age group of 25 years to 35 years belonging to the small metros follow influencers on YouTube.

7. The differentiating factor between influencers is the type of content they create. They can also be grouped by the niche in which they operate.

People like to follow influencers whose content falls in the following categories: entertainment (37%), lifestyle (28%), fashion (28%) and food (21%). This is followed by health and fitness (20%), technology and gadgets (20%), photography (19%), and beauty (19%).

8. A majority of female content customers follow social media influencers who create content that belongs to the entertainment, fashion, and beauty category. Male audiences follow entertainment, lifestyle, and technology & gadgets influencers. Youngsters below 18 years Influencer content in the categories of entertainment, lifestyle, fashion, and food are most likely to drive consumer purchases.

9. More than one-fourth of the people following social media influencers follow them because they find their content entertaining and the audience gets to know about new products that a brand launches. They also get information about products and services that the influencers promote.

People find the influencers' personality inspiring and trustworthy. The younger respondents below 18 years of age follow social media influencers as they find their content entertaining and help in discovering new products that brands launch. The older respondents belonging to the age group of 36 years and above follow these influencers to get information about products and services. )Source from Points 1-9: Dentsu Insights report titled 'Impact Of Influencer Marketing In India')

10. Monetization is a tricky business for content creators. A plethora of brands have tried finding solutions. A recent report by Kalaari Capital also revealed similar statistics. It divulged that out of 8 crore creators in the country, only 1.5L are able to effectively monetize their services.

11. IPLIX Media, an influencer marketing and talent management agency had announced a special mental health initiative offering free unlimited mental health therapy sessions for its content creators and employees. The influencer marketing agency partnered with the mental health platform Mindpeers to undertake this. This initiative is expected to benefit around 250 content creators and employees within a span of a year. The INR 900 crore+ influencer marketing industry is expected to witness a compound annual growth of 25 per cent till 2025. This rapid growth will bring along staggering opportunities for influencers and companies in the space to grow. However, keeping up with such rapid growth can sometimes take a toll on mental health. According to a 2020 report by inspire.me, a Norwegian influencer marketing platform, 47 per cent of the 350 global influencers surveyed admitted that their career choice had an impact on their mental health while 67 per cent felt that there was currently a negative stigma around the word 'influencer'. On the other hand, 32 per cent conceded that their work had a negative impact on their body image.

12. When you speak to the top content creators and influencers in the country, one constant comment you shall hear from them is about the unpredictability of the algorithms of different social media platforms. In this ever changing scenario, who shall be the next big creator? Where will they emerge from and how?

"The creator economy is an unpredictable landscape. Given the dynamism of the space, it is next to impossible to point out where the next creator will come from. Today, followers are no longer a benchmark of an influencer's success. Niche influencers have diversified their categories of engagement, whereas generic influencers have gone niche and are seeing great success there. There is no language, age group or any social or demographic indicator attached to their wins. Since the space has no linear or formulaic growth model, stakeholders gain a competitive edge by keeping their ears close to the ground and staying abreast with trends and audience demands. This makes it important for the influencers to look beyond creating content and explore and manage various facets including partnerships, collaborations, expansion, entrepreneurship, and upskilling to stay ahead in the game.": Vijay Subramaniam, Group CEO and Founder at Collective Artists Network.

13. "The creator industry is not a fixed variable that one can know the ins and outs of. You may know the platforms in the space, but not what and which format will come next. A trend successful today may not work tomorrow and seasoned industry players know that you are going to fail more than you succeed. The risk factor is high and sustaining success is the real challenge. The creator economy is not just made up of creators. There are tech players, digital platforms, influencer marketing agencies and marketplaces alongside creators. The 'Big Fight' for engagement is at the core of the entire ecosystem. With all of this at play, 'the next big thing' changes every day. That being said, it's a goldmine of opportunities which can be harnessed by agile, flexible and versatile players who aren't afraid of operating in a volatile, yet rewarding industry": YouTuber Dhruv Rathee.

The author can be reached at bkabir@entrepreneurindia.com and Instagram.com/kabirsinghbhandari

Kabir Singh Bhandari

Senior Assistant Editor

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