When you hear the phrase social media “influencer,” you might first think of the Fyre Festival models, who posted enigmatic orange squares to Instagram that hyped up the most spectacular event failure of this century. You might think of Olivia Jade Giannulli, daughter of actress Lori Loughlin, who allegedly got into college with the help of a bribe and cashed in on her student life through paid engagements with Amazon. Or you might think of Chiara Ferragni, the Italian influencer extraordinaire who turned her blog into an empire, and even managed to get her entire wedding #sponsored. These people, each with millions or tens of millions of followers, are the stars of the social media era. They can rack up six figures for each sponsored post they share on Instagram.
But to many brands, real “influence” comes from people like Jennifer Borget, a mother of three who has 90,000 followers on Instagram. Her husband is a police officer, and she’s a full-time blogger and influencer, posting about her family and working with companies like Google and Disney. Or Alexander Atkins, who has 72,000 Instagram followers and creates content about men’s grooming and fashion, crafting meticulous photos of high-end beauty products crowding a marble sink in a managed mess. He partners with upscale brands like Moleskine and the retailer Mr. Porter, and charges a minimum of $2,000 for one Instagram post. Or Miranda Anderson, a blogger whose content centers around DIY and “intentional lifestyle.” With 26,000 followers, she works with brands like Home Depot, Febreze, or CreditKarma, and says she doesn’t need a larger Instagram audience.