The AtlanticThe Atlantic

The influencer industry is having an existential crisis

By Kaitlyn Tiffany

31 Mar 2023 · 8 min read

Editor's Note

Influencers are increasingly valuable to social media companies. The question is, can they turn that value into meaningful leverage? The Atlantic reports on the challenges ahead.

Close to 5 million people follow Influencers in the Wild. The popular Instagram account makes fun of the work that goes into having a certain other kind of popular Instagram account: A typical post catches a woman (and usually, her butt) posing for photos in public, often surrounded by people but usually operating in total ignorance or disregard of them. In the comments, viewers—aghast at the goofiness and self-obsession on display—like to say that it’s time for a proverbial asteroid to come and deliver the Earth to its proverbial fiery end.

Influencers in the Wild has been turned into a board game with the tagline “Go places. Gain followers. Get famous. (no talent required)” And you get it because social-media influencers have always been, to some degree, a cultural joke. They get paid to post photos of themselves and to share their lives, which is something most of us do for free. It’s not real work.

Sign in to informed

  • Curated articles from premium publishers, ad-free
  • Concise Daily Briefs with quick-read summaries
  • Read, listen, save for later, or enjoy offline
  • Enjoy personalized content