Under the guise of fake marble backdrops and enviable accessories, this 20-something and thousands of others like her are changing the way brands advertise -- and more importantly, the way you shop.
Meet Alicia Chew, of fashion blog Alicia Tenise.
Chew is a Washington, D.C.-based media marketer by day and a social media influencer by night. She is one of the nearly one-third of millennials in America who are social influencers. She is also part of the new breed of bloggers teaming up with brands on sponsored content.
She makes money off her blog in two ways: with affiliate links and via sponsored ads.
Using affiliate links, shoppers are directed back to third-party apps where they can buy the stuff she posts -- earning her cash for clicks and sales. With sponsored content, brands pay her to create and post ads.
For all posts she's getting paid for by brands, FTC rules call for her to disclose as being ads. But with these, Chew says she makes sure are in her own "voice" and stay true to her brand.
As the lines between brick-and-mortar, online and mobile blur, and the modern shopping journey evolves, retailers are looking for ways to reach shoppers in personalized and timely ways. One such way is through influencer marketing.
It almost seems like I'm your friend.
Chew started her blog five years ago. Only when she gained a significant following (she has over 10,000 Instagram followers) did brands start biting. They keep biting because influencers are proving to be what today's shoppers want.
"It almost seems like I'm your friend. I'm not a big company, I'm not a big brand," Chew told Circa.
When Chew suggests a new restaurant, it comes off like a friend's recommendation.
Influencer marketing is booming.
It has grown so much it has spawned a whole sub industry of affiliate networks such as Like to Know It and social shopping apps like Solebrity.
Data shows millennial shoppers don't listen to traditional ads, hence all the influencer posts in your news feeds. Twitter revealed research earlier this year showing that influencers are almost as trusted as friends. In fact, 49 percent of users said they relied on influencers for product recommendations, compared to 56 percent who said they relied on friends.
Armed with this knowledge, apps like Solebrity are making it easier for people to cash in on the influencer market.
"Solebrity is a data science company reinventing the way millennials shop through analytics and rewards," AJ Jaghori, Solebrity co-founder, explained to Circa.
If you're curious, the app's name, Solebrity, is a mash up of social and celebrity.
Our influencers are our shoppers.
Shoppers using Solebrity can earn money and rewards from purchases they influence. The app is free for users, so Solebrity makes money by taking a cut of the profits from sales. A portion of each sale goes to charity.
"One of the things that makes the Solebrity app unique is that we allow our shoppers to also recommend products they come across with friends via text, email or social media," Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer Chris Petrakis said. "Our influencers are our shoppers."
For Chew, she believes the future of influencer marketing is bright. She said she's seen an increase in interest from brands looking to partner with her and other influencers in D.C. and across the country.
"It's just a little more of a genuine approach to marketing," Chew said.
It's clear if brands want to win over millennial shoppers, they're going to need a little help from their friends.
For more news, check out today's 60 Second Circa.