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Just a few years ago, it was possible to dismiss social media influencers as just a bunch of young, entitled Millennials who expected to get free hotel stays, free meals and free swag just for posting photos on Instagram or uploading videos to YouTube. But the social media influencer game has become big business. More than ever, brands want to be connected with the movers and shakers within an industry or niche, and those movers and shakers are almost always young social media influencers with huge followings online.
Paige Spiranac vs. Tiger Woods
One place to see this dynamic at work is within the world of golf. If you had to guess who is the biggest social media influencer today, you’d probably guess Tiger Woods. If you’ve been following the PGA Tour recently, you might guess someone like Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, or Jon Rahm. But the answer might surprise you: the biggest social media sensation is Paige Spiranac. Granted, Spiranac is a talented golfer, but she has never had the success of a living legend like Tiger. And she retired back in 2016, so she is not even someone currently racking up tournament wins.
You see, it doesn’t matter that Paige Spiranac never even made it to the LPGA tour. What matters is that she is young, beautiful and photogenic. After a career as a golfer, she became a model and then a full-time social media influencer. She has over 3.2 million (time of published) followers on Instagram and actually gets paid more for every Instagram post than Tiger, who “only” has 2.8 million followers. While Paige gets $14,000 per Instagram post, Tiger can only command a fee of $11,000 per Instagram post. It all comes down to the number of followers and how far and wide content can be spread in the digital world. At the end of the day, Paige Spiranac is the most followed golfer on Instagram, and that has paid off mightily for her.
Lessons for brands
Clearly, social media has changed the marketing game forever. No matter the size of your brand, you need to be thinking about how to engage young social media influencers. And you also need to have a good grasp of the going rate for certain types of social media content. If you can’t afford to pay $10,000+ per photo, maybe it’s time to search out a “B” or “C” level social media influencer, rather than an “A” level influencer like Tiger or Paige.
The optimal case, of course, is if the social media influencer you reach out to actually loves and uses your products. And, even better, if you can create the right incentives for that influencer to tell his or her followers to buy your products. If you look at many of Paige Spiranac’s latest Instagram posts, she is posing with golf gear that (presumably) she uses to improve her own golf game. If you are paying her $14,000 per photo, you want to make sure you get a return on your investment! So, if you have been on the sidelines about getting into the social media influencer game, now might be the time to test the waters. After all, it’s now par for the course in the world of social media marketing.