Social Influencers: How Do They Make Money from YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram Team Team

Last updated 02 April, 2019

In case you haven’t noticed, there is a new marketing tactic in town and it is called social influence. Riding on the digital wave that is sweeping across ASEAN and our economy, social influencers are mushrooming across marketing channels with the emergence of YouTube personalities such as JinnyBoy and social celebrities like Cheesis, a famous mother with two kids on social media.

More brands are recognizing this and have begun factoring in hiring social influencers to promote their brands, improve brand awareness and even to provide reviews like this video below.


Many of these social influencers are earning as much as RM5,000 to RM6,000 per social media post or video, and some may say this is more rewarding than a typical 9-to-5 job these days.

But what does it take to be a social influencer? Not everyone can be one. Nonetheless, if you are looking to learn more about this and understand how these social influencers earn their money, here are some insights!

What is A Social Influencer?

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To put it simply, a social influencer is a person or profile that you look up to for inspiration, information, or even a source of entertainment. A social marketing manager who remains unquoted told that there are four types of social influencers in Malaysia and many of them became who they are today because of their passion, instead of the urge to make money.

Given the loyal followers earned over time, social influencers are deemed as a trusted source according to both Twitter and Instagram in this post. This is where marketing kicks in. Brands are looking at different ways to generate or improve their brand awareness, achieve marketing goals, and even push for sales with leads from the social influencers.

Four Types of Social Influencers in the Market:

  1. Advocates - Friends and family within the circle of your community.
  2. Low-tier - Social media users that showcase their life with photos, videos, and captions. Their number of followers range between 3,000 and 15,000. Example: Yasmin Redzuan
  3. Mid-tier - advisory or niche influencers who are specialized in a specific segment such as car, travel, beauty and etc. They usually have a larger group of followers up to 50,000.
  4. High-tier - Experts or social celebrities that have a number of followers as high as 100,000 and have consistent exposure across all social media platforms. Example: Jane Chuck

Cost per Click vs. Cost per View

To help you understand how social influencers earn money, you’ll need a basic grasp of the model.

First of all, YouTubers do not earn money based on views but through engagement with ads instead, according to our source from the local social media advertising firm.

Engagement means clicking or watching an ad for more than 30 seconds.  YouTube Advertising is managed in the Adwords platform and advertisers can choose ads on a Cost per Click (CPC) or Cost per View (CPV) model.

To help you understand how these models work, CPC is a model where if a certain keyword has a CPC of $3 and someone clicks on that ad, it will charge that advertiser $3. These text ads pop up in the lower part of the screen during the video and can also show up as a square banner on the right side of your channel.

On the other hand, CPV is when an advertiser pays money based on views.  A view for the advertiser means someone watches an Ad for at least 30 seconds or half of the ad; whichever comes first. Learn how to set up your channel on YouTube to earn money here!

YouTube allows social influencers and video producers to do what they do best: to create videos without worrying about ways to monetize it.

However, there are other ways that allow YouTubers and influencers from other social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram to leverage on for monetization.

5 Ways Social Influencers Can Earn Money  

1. Paid Social Media Post

By working with brands, social influencers can use their social media platforms to reach out to their followers through their original content including blogs, photos and videos. This works well to help brands create additional hype for a new product or service, which at times is more effective than a traditional advertisement.


2. Sponsored Product Review/Blog post

This is frequently used when a brand has launched a new product and consumers are actively looking for reviews from a trusted source such as for cars and motorcycle reviews. It is more common today that companies and advertisers are paying social influencers to generate a sponsored review on new products.


3. Events

This is another great alternative for creating brand awareness by inviting social celebrities or advocates to a company event such as a product launch or holiday dinner. In return, social influencers often get freebies and sometimes, cash for helping these brands create buzz on their social media platforms.

4. Product Sponsorship/Gifting

Though social influencers may not get cash, they get to enjoy freebies from the brand they believe in by using the products and publish a picture on their social media accounts to help promote the brand in return!

5. Giveaways

Brands and advertisers usually tie up with social influencers to create a contest or giveaway promotions by tapping into their follower base. Most of the time, social influencers get paid pretty well for this type of campaign too!

If you are looking to become a social influencer of your own, here are the top 5 categories in Malaysia that are trending now: beauty, travel, food, fitness and parenting.

Ryan Augustin De Alwis, Hitz.FM Deejay shares his advice for newbie social influencers

Being in the entertainment industry for more than ten years as both a radio DJ and social influencer, Ryan Augustine De Alwis shares some tips on how to become an outstanding social influencer.

Social influencers need to take responsibility over their content

Ryan shares that it is important to make a positive impact among your followers and more importantly, social influencers have a responsibility over their postings.

“For example, a social influencer may have a bad experience at a restaurant and gave the worst review, but not knowing that there could be a reason behind the incident. This can affect the business badly and may even partially damage the reputation of the social influencer” adds Ryan.

In short, the content you choose to publish for the public to see can have positive and negative consequences. You may think it’s fine to publish anything you please, especially since it is in your own channel, but think about the larger ramifications of the content you’re publishing. And when in doubt, don’t put it up.

“The golden rule for publishing content is if you are having second thought about it, keep in view first until you are confident to publish it,” Ryan said.

Be transparent with your employers if the projects you work on could affect your full-time role

Ryan also shares that social influencers who have a full-time job should be transparent about the campaigns offered to their employers. This is to avoid any potential conflict of interest such as misuse of brand name or competitors.

“I will usually turn down the job if there is a conflict between the prospective client and the company I am working for because it is not fair to both of them”.

Learn to manage your work and personal life, balance is key

As one of the hosts for the Hitz.FM Morning Crew, which has about 1.2 million to 1.5 million of listeners on average daily basis, managing his work-life balance has become even more critical.

“The bigger you become in the social community, the harder it is for you to manage your life and work. So you have to know how to juggle and find a good balance in between”.

For those who might not know, Ryan studied a pastry course back in London before he was discovered by a friend and ventured into entertainment industry ten years ago! Admitting to being a shy person in nature, becoming DJ was the last job he would imagine to take on today.

Live stories is a growing tool – watch the space and use it wisely!

Social influencers are getting smarter by leveraging on live stories, which is increasingly used and viewed by the social media community in Malaysia. “By posting stories on Instagram at the right time, social influencers can use it to reach out to their followers and incorporate it as part of the marketing package for certain brands.” Ryan explained.

In fact, this is true as many brands are reaching out to social influencers to use Facebook and Intragram live stories to reach out to followers because of the better engagement and sense of exclusivity to the followers.


Jenn from So, I’m Jenn collaborated with Digi recently and posed as her character, Auntie Siow to promote the latter's RM28 prepaid internet plan.

Here are other tips we think can be helpful for you to be a social influencer:

  • Be passionate about your content
  • Engage with your followers.
  • Understand what your followers want to know.
  • It is obvious when you are trying to make money or sell something from/to your followers. So, don’t push it.
  • Don’t be shy of reaching out to brands you are interested in working with to offer a product review or to start to build a partnership with them so you can learn. Don’t ask for payment so fast though.
  • It takes a lot to be a social influencer given the pressure from the public. Stay firm and be sincere.
  • Don’t start out as a social influencer for the sake of making money.
  • Establish a good relationship with other social influencers and make friends out there. Collaboration excites followers too!
  • Content in videos, social media posts and blogs work differently. Determine which one you favour the most and keep improving over time!

As much as we love to figure out the exact amount of money all social influencers are making in Malaysia, it is rather difficult to do so because charges are subjective according to the individual and the scope of the campaign. On top of that, most of them create great content because they love what they do instead of prioritizing earning money.

Being A Social Influencer Has Its Downsides Too

Apart from the encouraging scene in Malaysia and everywhere else around the world, you may want to consider these challenges before becoming a social influencer.

1. It Takes A While Before You Make Money

Unless you’re pulling in 10,000 views a month consistently (and this is a low standard), you’re just not likely to make a lot of money. Success as an influencer probably isn’t going to happen overnight, and it could take years of work to get there. Until then, you’re not likely to see a single cent.

2. Becoming A Social Influencer Is Labor Intensive

Here is list of what you need to as a social influencer:

  • Actively look for people to share your content
  • Learn the basics of Search Engine Optimisation
  • Take the time to review products and services (most of which won’t be free to you at the start)
  • Pore through news feeds to understand current events, and post relevant material
  • Spend time researching new trends
  • Handle design issues such as photo shoots, illustrations, sorting through appropriate stock photos, etc.
  • Spend several hours monitoring your social media feeds, and responding to followers
  • Engage potential clients, whose products or services you sell
  • Handle inventory or payment, if you handle your own products and services
  • Review the response to different posts, and adapt according to what your audience likes

3. Unexpected Income

Social media influencers have different ways of earning their income; however, almost all of them are less convenient, and less predictable, than a part-time pay cheque.

For example, if you monetise your website by helping a company sell its products, what will you do if the company pays you late? What if they decide to change the agreed upon fees later?

You also need to prepare for occasional dry period, when none of your content is “catching”. This could lead to a loss of sales, and you’ll need to have a financial buffer for that.

It may surprise you that some social celebrities do not charge the company they work with because they really love their brand and believe it is worth their time to create content and introduce it to their followers! Let us know if you have any question or more to share in the comment section.

Also, Ryan and his team has recently teamed up to release a parody of 'That's What I Like' by Bruno Mars. Watch the video below and have a good laugh!


The team is comprised of many talented individuals, sharing their knowledge, experiences and research to help others make better financial decisions.


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