Did you know that the global influencer marketing market value stood at 16.4 billion U.S. dollars as of 2022, having more than doubled since 2019? Influencer marketing has become one of the most popular and effective forms of online marketing, with millions of internet users browsing social media platforms for entertainment, inspiration, and product recommendations daily.

But behind the glamorous facade, there is a dark side to the influencer industry. Many influencers face challenges such as unstable income, algorithm changes, content moderation, burnout, harassment, and exploitation.

 The influencer industry is largely unregulated and precarious. Influencers are not considered as employees by the platforms they work on, but rather as independent contractors or self-employed entrepreneurs. This means that they do not have access to benefits such as health insurance, sick leave, minimum wage, or collective bargaining rights. They also have to bear the costs of producing and marketing their content, such as equipment, travel, editing software, and advertising.

Moreover, influencers are subject to the whims of the platforms and their algorithms. The platforms often change their policies and algorithms without warning or explanation, affecting the visibility and reach of influencers’ content. For example, in 2023, Instagram announced that it would prioritize video content over photos, which caused frustration and anxiety among many photo-based influencers who had to adapt to the new format or risk losing their audience. Similarly, in 2022, TikTok faced a potential ban in the United States due to national security concerns, which threatened the livelihoods of many American influencers who relied on the platform for income.

 Another problem that influencers face is content moderation. The platforms have rules and guidelines that prohibit certain types of content, such as nudity, violence, hate speech, misinformation, or spam. However, these rules are often vague, inconsistent, and arbitrarily enforced by human moderators or automated systems. Many influencers have experienced having their content removed or demonetized for unclear or unfair reasons. Some have also faced harassment or abuse from other users or trolls who report their content maliciously or falsely.

 These challenges can take a toll on the mental health and well-being of influencers. Many influencers suffer from stress, anxiety, depression, isolation, or impostor syndrome. They also face pressure to maintain a certain image or persona online, which may not reflect their true selves or feelings. As Gigi Hadid, a fashion model and influencer with over 70 million followers on Instagram, said: “We can have a very similar sense of humor as someone, and that’s why we’re their favorite model, or our personal style off the runway is why we’re their favorite. But how do we convey that to someone who has never met us?”

So how do influencers cope with these difficulties? Some influencers seek professional help from therapists or coaches to deal with their mental health issues. Some influencers join communities or networks of other influencers who can offer support and advice. Some influencers diversify their income streams by creating their own products or services, collaborating with other brands or platforms, or exploring other creative outlets. Some influencers take breaks from social media to recharge and reconnect with themselves.

The Attempts to Organize and Unionize

In response to these challenges, some influencers have tried to organize and unionize to demand better treatment and recognition from the platforms and the industry. For example, in 2019, a group of YouTubers formed the FairTube campaign, which aimed to improve the transparency and communication between YouTube and its creators. They also sought to establish a formal partnership with YouTube that would give them more influence over the platform’s decisions and policies.

 In 2020, a group of TikTok stars launched the Creator Union, which aimed to protect the rights and interests of TikTok creators. They also sought to negotiate with TikTok for fairer compensation and revenue sharing models.

In 2021, a group of Instagram influencers formed the American Influencer Council, which aimed to advocate for the professionalization and standardization of the influencer industry. They also sought to educate consumers and policymakers about the value and impact of influencer marketing.

However, these attempts have faced various obstacles and limitations.

 • The lack of a clear definition and criteria for who is an influencer and who can join a union or an organization.

 • The difficulty of mobilizing and coordinating influencers across different platforms and locations.

 • The risk of losing access, privileges, or reputation on the platforms if they challenge or confront them.

 The Possible Solutions:

 • Creating more independent and alternative platforms that are owned and controlled by the creators themselves.

 • These platforms could offer more autonomy, transparency, and fairness to the creators and the consumers.

 • Establishing more legal and ethical standards and regulations for the influencer industry. These standards and regulations could protect the rights and responsibilities of the influencers, the platforms, and the consumers. They could also ensure that the influencer industry is accountable and sustainable for the society and the environment.

 • Fostering more collaboration and solidarity among influencers across different platforms and genres. Influencers could form networks or alliances that could provide them with support, resources, education, and representation. They could also share their experiences, insights, and best practices with each other. They could also leverage their collective voice and influence to advocate for their common interests and values.


 The influencer industry is having an existential crisis, but it is not doomed. Influencers can still thrive and succeed in this competitive and dynamic field if they are aware of the risks and opportunities involved. As Amy Jo Martin, an author and founder of Digital Royalty, said: “social media is the ultimate equalizer. It gives a voice and a platform to anyone willing to engage.”


 1.     https://www.statista.com/topics/2496/influence-marketing/#topicOverview  – (statista.com)

2.     https://www.statista.com/topics/9189/influencer-marketing-in-india/#topicOverview – (techjury.net)

 3.     https://techjury.net/blog/influencer-marketing-statistics/ – (influencermarketinghub.com)

 4.     https://influencermarketinghub.com/influencer-marketing-statistics/ – (blog.gitnux.com)