"Advertisers pay for people, they pay for audiences, they pay for eyeballs, they pay for attention, they pay for trust, they pay for influence," Mr. Stein said. "And the only way to continue to engage that audience and retain that audience is to create great content."
But more importantly, he said, social media influencers distribute their own content to their followers. And in a world of disposable content, audience loyalty reigns supreme.
"Many influencers are reaching as many, if not more, people than traditional publishers every single day," Mr. Stein said. "They got that reach because they were really good at producing original content that people wanted with the specific point of view they brought to the table."
Mr. Stein said the average social media influencer makes in the low six-figure figures whereas the outliers can make millions.
But there's a catch. He warned that brands looking to engage an influencer have to loosen their grip on brand messaging. He said a brand's influencer should be in the demographic they're trying to reach and that a brand must understand what resonates with those influencers rather than tell them what to create or how to make it.
"Authenticity is king on the internet," Mr. Stein said. "If you have a big celebrity who cares nothing about a certain product all the sudden say, 'Hey, go buy this.' That's what doesn't work, that's what doesn't make sense."