youtubeA new survey conducted by one of Canada’s biggest colleges has found that many kids and teens are making serious money by posting promotional photos and videos on their well-connected social media accounts.

The research, conducted by Centennial College of Toronto, found that some minors earn as much as $10,000 to $20,000 (Rs 6.5 lakh to 13 lakh) per post or video.

“The marketing industry is hiring kids en masse, negotiating huge endorsement and brand integration deals and handing over paycheques of $10,000 to $20,000 per sponsored Instagram post and YouTube video,” explains Debbie Gordon, Director of kidsmediacentre at the college and lead researcher.

“After-school video production is the new arts and crafts, with children as young as five creating YouTube channels. Social media monetization inspired by the Kardashians is the new paper route. With a slowing economy, market malaise and YouTubers as the new celebrities, Gen Z and Millennials see content production as a viable career. Our kids are growing up expecting to have an audience, converting followers into real money.”

Quoting industry experts, the research team says an average of 200 young people sign with agents every day to be influencers, in effect becoming the marketing industry’s new media buy.

Influencers, for the uninitiated, is a term used to refer to people who have a huge number of followers and can ‘influence’ the public perception about a product, person or event.

Even in India, influencers regularly take money from brands for posting about their products, events and clients. However, this is largely limited to real life stars — such film actors and celebrities. However, on Youtube, India too has seen an explosion of youngsters who command huge following.

Fifty years ago, only people in their forties could hope to be millionaires and billionaires. In the last 10-20 years, that has shifted to anyone older than 20, and with social media, we could now see kids younger than 10 years old become millionaires.

The research found that children as young as five are the new content creators and teens everywhere are being pursued through their social feeds to shill product for big brands.

“Kids’ social media #instafame is revolutionizing the media and marketing industries, traumatizing advertising and marketing executives, and creating pre-teen entrepreneurs,” the team said.

The shift to a distributed form of influence has made the job of public relations and advertising executives that much harder. Instead of dealing with a handful of media firms, they now have to deal with and monitor thousands of social media ‘influencers’.

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