Building community and getting paid in the age of influencers
There is no limit to who a social media influencer can be. It could be a child reviewing toys on YouTube, a girl in your class updating her Instagram story for her several thousand followers or it could be the person you always see playing Fortnite.
Influencers have been steadily increasing and dominating phone and computer screens over the years. According to the Public Relations Review, an influencer “represents a new type of independent third-party endorser who shapes audience attitudes through blogs, tweets and the use of other social media.”
However, according to Damian Radcliffe, a journalism professor at the University of Oregon, it is becoming harder to define exactly who an influencer is.
“I would say a lot of people who have that label attached to them don’t necessarily apply that label to themselves, and they wouldn’t think of themselves in that way,” he said.
The number of influencers is continually growing, along with the possibility of who they could be. Every influencer has a fluctuating number of followers, but that doesn’t prevent them from pursuing their passion, or from making money while creating.
Kiara Green – With over 200,000 subscribers, Kiara Green is a YouTuber and junior at the University of Oregon majoring in human physiology. Green’s channel kick-started when she started playing with her camera in high school and during her transition to UO, she realized there were no videos on what colleges were like. Since then, Green has used her YouTube channel to help others prepare for the transition into college while collaborating with brands and using Google Adsense to financially support her own college journey. As Green continues to navigate the world of influencers she is learning that there are many positives and negatives that come with the job.
Kira Nesser – You can find Kira Nesser, a junior at Oregon State University, majoring in nutrition and dietetics while streaming on Twitch (a streaming site where people create accounts to produce videos and watch others play video and computer games). Streaming allows Nesser to connect with her followers, but it also helps with college costs. The money Nesser receives is split halfway with Twitch but still allows her to generate enough to help pay for spendy textbooks. Nesser started streaming four years ago after a friend introduced her to the streaming world. Originally she didn’t know anything about streaming, but she was hooked immediately and hasn’t stopped since.
Brayden Figueroa – Finding Brayden Figueroa might be a little difficult as he is a frequent traveler. He’s constantly on the move for his YouTube channel with over 800 subscribers, GoDucks (a YouTube channel affiliated with the University of Oregon Athletics) and for side projects. Currently, Figueroa is an advertising major in his final year at the University of Oregon, but started out as a human physiology major. Figueroa switched when he realized that he could create videos and get paid for what he enjoyed doing. As a self-taught YouTuber and on the cusp of graduating college, Figueroa believes if he has one person watching his videos then he has a reason to keep creating his best content.
All three influencers share similar experiences as college students, but they also get to share a unique perspective in a new and growing field. Green, Nesser and Figueroa plan on continuing to create content throughout college and beyond their schooling. While there can be pros to being an influencer (interacting with followers, opportunities for new experiences and even meeting new people), there are also cons (privacy issues, the time it takes to edit a video or even figuring out contracts). Ultimately, they love what they do. The next step for Green is hiring a manager to help with her channel; for Nesser, it’s continuing to provide content and advice for her followers as she enters her senior year of college; and for Figueroa, it’s starting a business with his friend after college.