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Influencers and Subjective Value: They Have Something to Teach Us

In 2022, investments into the creator economy surged to $5 billion. The term creator refers to people who generate value from intellectual output or artistic work. However, a new form of creative has emerged known as the “influencer.” Influencers are online personalities who, through their charisma, cultivate a loyal fanbase. Due to their reach, brands employ influencers to market their products and services.

Influencer marketing has proven to be a lucrative venture, and estimates suggest that the industry totaled $16.4 billion in 2022. Brands fork out huge sums to capitalize on the reach of megacelebrities who sway millions to buy their products. Football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo earns $2,397,000 million per Instagram post, and the doyen of American influencers Kim Kardashian collects $1,689,000 million per post.

The business of influencing is so profitable that several youngsters are seriously considering it as a future profession. In 2021, a YouGov survey reported that more young people aspire to become professional influencers rather than doctors or lawyers. Unfortunately, many perceive this development as a worrying trend because they view influencing as mindless banter. Some personalities do peddle pointless banter, but their ability to inspire and motivate followers cements their credibility as influencers.

The relevant point is that influencers create value by enhancing the well-being of their followers. Naysayers accuse the Kardashians of promoting trashy entertainment; however, their work has been determined as useful by the market. If the Kardashians were not creating value for viewers and brands, then they would have been relegated to the dustbin of history years ago.

The success of influencers is the best reinforcement of the subjective theory of value. People like the Kardashians and MrBeast are only popular because they have been rewarded by the market for responding to the subjective demands of consumers. Influencers also demonstrate the anti-elitist nature of markets since most influencers garner prestige by responding to the preferences of ordinary people.

Further, thinking that influencing is an illegitimate career choice is misguided. Influencing, like other professions, mandates years of hard work and self-development. Stars like MrBeast and Logan Paul did not become millionaires overnight. Quite often, successful influencers started their journey as teenagers and spent years honing their skills. Many had to master the art of video editing, graphic designing, and public speaking before launching successful platforms.

Critics think that influencers don’t work hard because their job seems fun, but when they invest hours into making videos, editing, and planning future projects they forego leisure time. Others argue that being an influencer is not physically or cognitively demanding; hence, influencers don’t deserve to earn millions, but such critics are missing the point. Influencers possess entrepreneurial insight, so many are either responding to new demands or establishing new markets. People gain affluence by pursuing socially and economically useful projects, so one’s job as a plumber is important, but it could be more profitable for a plumber to document his worst experiences and turn his job into a reality show.

If some people choose to pursue important but unprofitable careers that is their choice, and they should respect influencers for selecting another option. Influencers are doing what they love with intense passion, and many exhibit an unmatched work ethic. MrBeast described his own work ethic as “crazy” in an interview with Lex Fridman:

There are just some nights where I don’t wanna sleep, and for whatever reason, I feel compelled to go all night. . . . And when I’m really in grind mode it’ll be seven or eight days just non-stop going, going, and then I’ll realize, “Oh, I need some recharge time,” and then go . . . binge a season of anime.

Also, influencers teach us a great deal about negotiating and monetizing brands. Successful influencers invest in managers who help them to scale and deliver better products for consumers. MrBeast can lavish his audience with gifts due to strategic partnerships with advertisers who understand his reach. Likewise, Jeffree Star turned beauty influencing into a multimillion-dollar business, and Addison Rae leveraged her dancing skills to build an empire.

Those who dismiss the business of influencing will fail to capitalize on lucrative opportunities. Although I won’t divulge the details, this writer is building a start-up and is on course to raise an additional $100,000. Influencing is the business of the future, and we must not hesitate to seize the opportunities offered by this new paradigm.

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