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Many followers think of online influencing as a cottage industry, but it can be big business if you rally a large – or coveted – audience. Maryam Siddiqi highlights key social media leaders, what they’re promoting and how much they make

VIEW COUNTER Those who make a living via videos on YouTube are the highest earning influencers. Mediakix, an influencer marketing agency, reported that the 10 most successful YouTube personalities made $54-million (U.S.) combined in 2015. Among the 10 were gamer PewDiePie (Felix Kjellberg), who has 44 million YouTube subscribers and made $12-million (U.S.), Michelle Phan, who made $3-million (U.S) creating fashion and beauty content for 8.5 million subscribers, and Rosanna Pansino, who creates food and cooking how-to videos for 6.1 million subscribers and made $2.5-million (U.S.).

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ACCOUNTING FOR INFLUENCE New Yorker Amber Discko launched the Tumblr page Who Pays Influencers? in May of 2016, a crowd-sourced list of social media projects and the companies that sponsored them. Entries are anonymously posted and detail the work an influencer had to complete, what the payment was, and whether payment was received. Brands posted about include Payless Shoes, O2, Nordstrom, Nike and the Billboard Awards.

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BEYOND SOCIAL Baby and children’s clothing company Carters OshKosh works with Toronto- based lifestyle expert Liv Judd Soye to reach its audience. She has over 5,300 Twitter followers and 1,700 Instagram followers. Her responsibilities to the company reach far beyond social media to include being a radio and on-air spokesperson, including cross-country media tours; hosting events; styling television segments; styling brand capsule collections; creating blog and other online content; and being a brand ambassador even when not in front of the camera.

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META SOCIAL MEDIA Comedian Lilly Singh, who hails from Toronto, is a YouTube star with 9.2 million subscribers. Among her recent gigs – which also includes collaborating on a lipstick with Smashbox – was introducing the launch of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s own YouTube channel in June at VidCon, an annual conference celebrating online video.

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SPONSORED CONTENT With 504,000 Instagram followers, almost 5,400 Twitter followers and more than 141,000 fans on Facebook, the influence of travel photographer Callum Snape, whose home base is Vancouver, extends beyond his art. He currently works with the following companies via sponsorships: SanDisk (memory cards), Oru Kayak (folding kayaks), F-Stop Gear (camera packs and bags), LifeStraw (water filters), Induro (tripods), and Tentree (clothing).

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