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Brands are paying teens as young as 13 to promote products on Instagram in paid posts

Retailers are direct-messaging teens and preteens to post sponsored, paid content on Instagram, according to a report in the Atlantic.

Start-up brands are the ones mainly targeting young “influencers,” and pay between $5 and $10 per post to wear or advertise their goods online. The deals are usually made through direct messaging on social media and rarely include a formal contract.

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This comes as more teens report that it is getting harder to find minimum-wage and retail jobs. Young people often struggle to compete with older workers and have to juggle work and school, so they are looking for different ways to find work, even if they aren’t legally old enough to work yet.

Mary, a 14-year-old girl from California, told the Atlantic that making money from Instagram posts is “pretty much the easiest way, without being famous on the internet, to make money.”

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Payment to teen influencers is often done through PayPal, which kids said is easy to hide from parents.

“A lot of people now do make money online and we don’t want to have to tell our parents ‘Hi, we’re making money online talking to strangers,’” Alexa, a 15-year-old in New York, told the Atlantic

hi everyone! so @coola generously sent me some things I wanted to try literally in 24 hours! once I got over the shock of how amazingly fast they arrived I tried them out and have been really enjoying them! -tinted mineral liplux in shades “nude beach” and “tan line” I’ve been really enjoying applying these after a lip scrub for instant hydrated lips and a stunning wash of color! these have a sweet scent and come in gorgeous and sturdy candy colored metal tubes! -tropical coconut sunscreen spray coconut 🌴 🥥 first off, this smells absolutely magical like vanilla coconut! it’s non greasy, with no white cast and dries almost immediately! since this is so enjoyable and easy to apply I will definitely be applying SPF more often. you can wear this in the pool as it is water resistant for 40 minutes! -sunless tan anti aging face serum this serum comes in packaging that feels really nice and heavy in my hands. it applies like a very thin gel consistency but soaks into the skin after around 1 minute which is great! i spray tan a lot and since I use so many acids on my face, it usually fades from my face while my body is still dark so it’s great to have this serum to be able to match up evenly! it develops in 2-4 hours so i would suggest applying this after your night skincare routine before you go to sleep! thank you so much to Ashley and @coola for gifting me these again! #coolasuncare #coola

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For brands, it is smart business, because young influencers are often sharing the content with their peers and serve as a direct pipeline to the demographic they want to reach, according to Pitchbook. The influencer industry is growing and could be worth up to $10 billion by 2020.

It’s also cheaper to hire teens to model clothes or demonstrate products.

Instagram celebrities often charge between $50 to $30,000 for a sponsored post, Business Insider reported

A report from Hopper called the Instagram Rich List documents how much celebrities get paid for sponsored posts.

Kylie Jenner, who has over 110 million followers, tops the list with a $1 million payout per sponsored post, according to the report.

Other top influencers include Cristiano Ronaldo, Selena Gomez, Kim Kardashian-West and Beyonce Knowles.

Atlantic reported that companies who court underage influencers often send them clothing to wear in a post. Others just send images of the items they want to be featured. 

Companies are expected to spend $1.6 billion on Instagram advertising in 2018 and that could grow to $5 billion over the next few years, according to MediaKix.

Brittany Hennessey, senior director of influencer strategy for Hearst Digital Media told Business Insider that working with influencers online “almost guarantees” profit, more so than traditional print and television advertisements.

“A $100,000 (budget) doesn’t buy you that guarantee on TV, on print, it doesn't buy you that anywhere. And so there are some girls who have proven that they can move product and that's what you're spending the money on,” Hennessy said. “And if you're a brand, there's no amount of advertising you can do in traditional media that can guarantee [sales] like that.”

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