Content Creators and Social Media Influencers in the Digital Economy


What does the state of influencer marketing look like in 2024? Discover how content creators and influencers are enmeshed in the digital economy.


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Market Research » Content Creators and Social Media Influencers in the Digital Economy
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The global influencer marketing market size has more than doubled in just the last few years, increasing from $9.1 billion in 2020 to $21.1 billion in 2023. Everywhere you look, you see new influencers popping up to promote products they think you’ll like.

But that’s because businesses are putting large portions of their marketing budgets towards working with influencers. 23% of businesses allocate 40% or more of their entire marketing budgets to influencer marketing.

A graphic of an influencer inside an Instagram post frame

As the influencer marketing industry grows, it only makes sense that it will change and evolve into an even bigger beast. And now, in 2024, you can even incorporate content creators and influencers into your market research strategies.

Throughout this article, we’re going to talk more about social media influencers, content creators, what they are, and what kind of impact they’re having on the digital economy as a whole.

What Are Content Creators and Social Media Influencers?


Content creators and social media influencers are regular people who work with businesses to promote their products and services.

They’re able to do this because they have one or more of the following factors:

  • A large, engaged social media following
  • A unique skill
  • A specific niche that matches a business’s target audience
  • The ability to create engaging content

However, content creators and social media influencers are two sides of the same coin—and working with them can look different as well.

Content creators are known for the content they create, rather than who they are as individuals and how they live their day-to-day lives.

For example, Ereka Vetrini is a food content creator who shares videos of recipes she’s created on her TikTok. Here’s an example of one of her videos:


SAVE my one-pot HEARTY & HEALTHY STUFFED PEPPER SOUP for the chilly months ahead! Ingredients: 1 cup cooked instant or microwave rice 1lb ground meat (turkey or beef) 1 tsp dry oregano 1 tsp salt 1/4 tsp pepper 1/2 tsp thyme dry or fresh 3 garlic cloves minced or grated 2 bell peppers diced 2 tbsp olive oil 1 large onion peeled and sliced 1 tsp smoked paprika 1 16 ounce jar roasted red peppers, DRAINED 1, 28 ounce can of peeled tomatoes 32 ounces chicken broth 1 parm rind (optional) 2 sprigs of fresh oregano (can sub for another 1 tsp dry oregano) 1 cup frozen or fresh peas 1 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese + more for garnish Croutons (optional) Balsamic glaze (optional) -Cook or microwave instant rice and set aside -Add the ground meat to a large pan and using a wooden spoon, break the meat down into smaller pieces. -Add dry oregano, 1/2 salt, pepper, thyme and garlic & green peppers. Cook until the meat is no longer pink and cooked through. -Remove the meat mixture from the pan. -To the same pot, add 2 tbsp of olive oil, onion, paprika and remaining 1/2 tsp salt. Cook until onion are tender. -Add roasted peppers, canned tomatoes, chicken broth, parm rind (optional), oregano. Let cook for 15 minutes. -Remove the parm rind as well as any oregano stems then add the grated parm and blend well. -Add back the cooked meat mixture, peas and rice. Let cook for 3 more minutes and serve topped with more grated parm, crouton and a splash of balsamic reduction! #onepotmeals #goodsoup #healthy #healthyfood

♬ original sound – Ereka Vetrini

She’s netted nearly 1 million followers and she regularly partners with brands by featuring their products as ingredients in her recipes. You can view one of these videos below. Peek the product placement of the FAGE sour cream (plus it’s mentioned in her bio).


#ad My SPINACH & ARTICHOKE DIP PIZZA is the perfect snack for game day #homegating !The All Natural @FAGE Sour Cream is my absolute FAVORITE ingredient to use in all my dips and because it’s so rich and creamy, there’s no need for mayo! See full recipe below #FAGE Make 2 Pizza Serves 4-6 1 ¼ cups canned artichokes, drained & chopped 1 ¼ cups frozen spinach, defrosted 2 ½ cup shredded mozzarella ½ cup ricotta ¾ cup FAGE Sour Cream ½ tsp salt ¼ tsp pepper 2 garlic cloves grated or finely minced 1 tsp lemon juice ¼ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano 1 store bought pizza dough ¼ cup jarred crushed Calabrian chili pepper -Preheat oven to 450F. Place 2 cast 10 inch iron skillets or pizza stones into the oven. -Place defrosted spinach into a colander and press down to drain all excess water. -To a large bowl add; spinach, shopped artichokes, ½ cup mozzarella, ricotta, FAGE Sour Cream, salt, pepper, grated garlic, lemon juice and grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Mix well. -Divide pizza in two. Place onto a floured surface and roll both into 10 inch round circles. -Remove cast iron skillets from the oven. Carefully place one rolled pizza dough into each. -Add 1/2 the dip to each pizza and spread leaving an inch for the crust. -Place pizza in the oven and cook for 30 minutes or until the pizza is cooked through, crispy and cheese begins to bubble. -Top with Calabrian chili pepper and serve warm.

♬ original sound – Ereka Vetrini

She’s not regularly showing off products like an influencer might—she’s strategically incorporating them into the content that she creates.

However, that’s just one way that content creators can work with brands. Others will often create content for the brands, rather than promote their brands on their own platforms. This is useful because it means the content creator doesn’t need to have a large following in order to work with brands—they just need to create great content.

Social media influencers are known for the influence they have on their audience as they share their favorite products, lifestyle tips, or other information that may be catered to their specific niche.

For example, Hilary Bodiford is a lifestyle influencer who shares videos of her life, home decor, life organization, and projects she’s working on as a means of influencing her followers to do some of the same. Take a look at this quick video tutorial she shared on her Instagram:


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Hilary Rose Bodiford (@byhilaryrose)

When she works with brands, she tends to promote products that make sense for her own life—and therefore, may make sense for her followers, too. Like this video below sharing a product that’s great for when you’re hosting family:













View this post on Instagram






























A post shared by Hilary Rose Bodiford (@byhilaryrose)

Rather than seamlessly incorporating products into the content she’s already creating, Hilary creates content specifically for some of these promoted products.

Content Creators vs. Social Media Influencers


So now that you know the gist of what a content creator and a social media influencer are, let’s talk about some similarities and differences. What do the two roles have in common? And how are they different?


There are several similarities to keep in mind when it comes to content creators and influencers. They include:

  • Both roles use digital platforms for content creation and distribution.
  • Both roles employ some of the same strategies for engaging with followers and building a community.
  • Both roles are using online platforms to generate an income—though how they generate that income can be different.


There are more differences in how content creators and influencers work than similarities. Some of these differences are:

  • Content creators focus on creating different types of content (like recipes, podcast episodes, graphics, etc.) while influencers focus on showing off their lifestyle and other passions.
  • Content creators create content with the intention of educating their audience while influencers create content with the intention of influencing their audience.
  • More successful influencers have a large following, while being a content creator isn’t always reliant on how many followers they have.
  • Content creators and influencers work with brands and earn their income in different ways.
  • Influencers need to have a deeper relationship and level of interaction with their followers than content creators do.
A stock photo of an influencer showing off a product in front of a camera

Influencer Impact in Media and the Digital Economy


In the past, the only famous people we would look to were mega movie stars and pop stars. Now, regular, everyday people can hit celebrity status just by amassing a large online following. Some influencers have even been invited to join the ranks of A-listers at star-studded events like the Met Gala and the Golden Globes.

With the ability to become a celebrity at the tips of our fingers, it’s no wonder we’re seeing such an uptick in influencer numbers. There are over 500,000 influencers on Instagram alone, the vast majority of which have fewer than 50,000 followers.

So while hitting that mega celebrity level is tough, it isn’t an essential step for being an effective influencer. Those lower-level influencers are still making waves in the media and the marketing industry as a whole. After all, 82% of businesses plan to have a budget specifically for influencer marketing.

And many businesses are even creating roles specifically for influencer management, an example of which we can see in this tweet:

With this rise of influencer marketing, more and more businesses have access to this promotional strategy. Whereas in years past, only big brands with big budgets could hire these mega celebrities to put their faces behind their perfumes, makeup, and other products, influencers make advertising even more accessible.

According to Influencer Marketing Hub, influencer rates vary greatly based on platform and follower count. But this works well for businesses of all shapes and sizes. A newer business can still hire a smaller influencer by paying just a few hundred dollars for some Instagram promotion.

Thanks to this advertising accessibility, we can clearly thank influencers for having a massive impact on the economy—both online and off. People watching their favorite influencers enjoy certain products and services are likely to purchase them for themselves, putting money back into the economy again and again.

With all of this in mind, we can make a clear assumption that influencers won’t be exiting our social media feeds anytime soon.

Leveraging Influencers in Market Research


We’ve seen how popular influencers are in the media and for brand promotion. But what about when it comes to market research? Can influencers help drive market research projects?

There are a few ways that influencers can be leveraged when it comes to market research—and marketing in general. Let’s dig into a few examples.

Understanding Consumer Behavior

If there’s one thing that influencers know like the back of their hands, it’s who their audience is and what their audience wants. Take advantage of this superpower and utilize influencers and content creators for insights into consumer preferences.

Incorporate influencer interviews into your market research projects, especially when working on brand discovery or audience building. Influencers can help your clients get a grasp at what their audience wants to see from the accounts they follow online.

Trend Forecasting

As a general rule, you should keep an eye on popular influencer and content creator accounts as they always have to stay at the forefront of all content trends. In fact, in many ways, they’re often the ones creating the new trends.

Incorporating referencing popular influencers in a client’s niche in your final results, sharing their content and the obvious trends the brands need to incorporate into their own content.

Targeted Marketing Strategies

Influencers tend to have a wide reach, regardless of how many followers they have. In fact, micro-influencers tend to have a much more engaged audience than macro-influencers, even if they do have a smaller audience.

Utilize the reach that these influencers have for more effective marketing campaigns. They can help you reach a wider audience for your market research project—or just for your brand’s marketing strategy.

A stock photo showing someone sharing a piece of content on social media

Challenges and Ethical Considerations When Working With Influencers


There are always caveats to various strategies, and influencer marketing is no different. Working with influencers always brings up the potential issues of authenticity and trust. Can users really trust influencer opinions? Or are they simply promoting a product because they’re getting paid?

More than that, there are regulatory challenges. Disclaimer policies are more prevalent than ever, requiring influencers to reveal when something is a paid opportunity using some form of “#ad” or other.

The need for transparency and ethical advertising is essential, and the lines can get blurry when it comes to influencers.

To help combat these, make sure you work with influencers who are mindful of these challenges. Many influencers share disclaimers with their audience regularly about how they only share products they love—and that they’ve even turned down brand deals because they weren’t satisfied with a product.

Furthermore, make sure your influencer partners always use the proper ad disclaimers. Those aren’t just a “nice-to-have,” they’re a legal requirement when promoting a paid partnership.

The Takeaway


Influencer culture is here to stay. There are hundreds of thousands of influencers across the globe, each one heavily focused on creating high-quality and on-trend content within their niche. And the opportunities that brands have for marketing campaigns and help with market research are endless.

Consider incorporating influencers into your next market research campaign. Meet with one of our experts to learn how we can utilize influencers, their expertise in audience building, and their reach to maximize your project’s results.


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