Consumers research snapshot: One-fifth of consumers consider themselves social media personalities

More than half of adult consumers who follow social media personalities say they follow them across all their social platforms and would follow them to new platforms if they moved.
Elizabeth Christenson
Editor, Retail Leader
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One in five (19%) social media users consider themselves to be content creators (10%) or influencers (9%), according to new Mintel research. This number increases to 28% for Gen Z social media users as 11% consider themselves to be influencers and 17% content creators. 

Meanwhile, three-quarters (76%) of self-proclaimed influencers are living the social media dream by earning enough money from content creation and advertising to support themselves without other work, Mintel reported. Forbes’ list of most successful internet creators named MrBeast, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, as the highest-earning creator. In 2021, MrBeast had amassed 162 million followers and earned $54 million. The MrBeast channel was also the second-most followed on YouTube as of August 2023; up from rank 4 at the beginning of the year, according to Statista. During this time period, Donaldson has attracted attention for paying for operations making 1,000 blind people see and 1,000 deaf people hear along with stunts and challenges. Donaldson also opened the MrBeast Burger Restaurant at the American Dream Mall.

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When it comes to general social media usage, almost all (98%) online adults use at least one social media platform on a daily or weekly basis — jumping to 100% of Gen Z. Mintel research showed 82% of social media users follow at least one type of social media personality (content creator or influencer). Spanning the engagement spectrum, three-quarters (72%) of social media users say they create or would like to create content for other’s entertainment and one in seven (15%) don’t post on social media at all.

“The combination of nearly universal social media usage among Americans and that one in five users claim to be social media personalities means it’s critically important for brands to approach each platform with unique influencer strategies to reach the differing user bases while maintaining their brand identity,” said Brian Benway, gaming and entertainment analyst, Mintel Reports U.S. “Our research reveals that influencer marketing will continue to grow in the near future as Gen Z  becomes a more powerful consumer group. To succeed in influencer marketing, brands must be aware of generational preferences on each platform, as well as the different social dynamics at play. Influencer and content creator-based marketing is highly impactful, dynamic and responsive. Keeping on top of the latest trends can help brands capitalize on the growing market and tap into the spending potential of social media users.”

Among social media users who follow content creators, Baby Boomers significantly prefer to follow social media personalities on Facebook (75%), while Gen Z prefers YouTube (62%), TikTok (62%) and Instagram (56%). This indicates how important video formats are for reaching young adults, Mintel said. Interestingly, more than half of adult consumers who follow social media personalities say they follow them across all their social platforms (54%) and would follow them to new platforms if they moved (51%). Furthermore, 53% of social media followers say they miss creators if they don't post regularly and 48% feel like they know the content creators personally. 

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According to a report by marketing firm IZEA, the costs of influencer marketing posts has exploded over the past years. In 2022, the average paid post brought in more than $1,100. In 2015, that number had been $25. 

“Brand identity shouldn’t change across platforms, but tone and delivery should fit the format. When deciding to team up with a social media influencer, brands, and agencies must be mindful of the different platform demographics and capitalize on each platform’s benefits, such as the viral hit potential or precise ad targeting,” Benway said. “Preferences by generation can be advantageous. For example, knowing that older platforms like Facebook and Pinterest have established user bases that are familiar with the platform makes it easier for brands to target ads to an audience they know will be interested. Brands could also focus on topics with fewer influencers, but more followers since partnerships can reach a larger audience and offer more potential for success. Alternatively, the possibility of collaborating with influencers who have a strong presence in different niche categories could prove highly beneficial for brands.”