The Rise of Social Media as a Powerhouse for Modelling Careers: A Deep Dive

The world of modeling has transformed dramatically with the advent of social media. Gone are the days when the path to a successful career was limited to arduous agency auditions and networking. With platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok, models now have direct access to showcase their work and personality, effectively turning these platforms into digital portfolios and catwalks.

A 2021 report by Influencer Marketing Hub highlighted that Instagram had over 1 billion active users, with 500 million using the platform daily[1]. More specifically, Statista reported that as of 2021, the United States alone had 140 million Instagram users, a figure expected to surpass 145 million by 2023[2]. This vast user base presents models with an enormous potential audience.

Models can now be their own promoters. With high-quality content and a dash of creative marketing, they have the chance to go viral, thereby catching the eye of industry professionals. Gigi Hadid, for example, credited Instagram for launching her career, as she was discovered after posting pictures of her life as a college student[3].

Moreover, the industry itself has also evolved. Companies, realizing the power of these platforms, have started hiring models based on their follower counts. A study by in 2022 showed that models with a significant social media following can potentially earn up to 25% more than those without a similar following[4]. It’s not just about looks anymore, but about social influence and reach.

However, it’s crucial to highlight the challenges that come with this shift. Cyberbullying, unrealistic beauty standards, and concerns about privacy are significant issues. A 2020 report by Pew Research Center showed that about 41% of Americans have experienced some form of online harassment[5].

In conclusion, while the transformation of the modelling industry via social media presents new opportunities, it also brings along its share of challenges. These platforms have become a double-edged sword, accelerating careers while at times exacerbating issues related to mental health and well-being.

The Dark Side of Social Media Modeling: The Rise of Influencer Marketing and Exploitative Practices

While social media platforms have provided models with the freedom to curate their own image and career, the rise of influencer marketing has opened the door to a disturbing phenomenon. Often referred to as the new-age form of exploitation, there have been numerous reported cases of individuals and companies taking advantage of young influencers and models in the industry, leading to practices that bear a disconcerting resemblance to modern-day prostitution.

Influencer marketing, a strategy that leverages the credibility and reach of influencers to promote products or services, is a billion-dollar industry. Business Insider reported that the influencer marketing industry was set to reach $15 billion by 2022[6]. However, this burgeoning business segment is often devoid of regulation and oversight, leaving room for unscrupulous practices.

A number of investigative reports and testimonials have shed light on the dark underbelly of the industry. The BBC, in their 2020 documentary “Selling Sex” [7], reported instances where models, lured by the prospects of glamorous luxury experiences, sponsorships, and money, were pushed into situations that involved trading sexual favors.

While this isn’t representative of the entire influencer marketing industry, the lack of regulation and transparency often makes it challenging to safeguard the rights and safety of influencers and models, particularly the younger and more vulnerable ones. It’s crucial for legislative bodies and platform administrators to actively work towards combating such practices, through stringent rules, clear reporting mechanisms, and empowerment education for influencers.

To sum up, while social media has revolutionized the modeling industry, it’s important to navigate this new landscape with caution. For aspiring models, it’s paramount to stay informed, stay safe, and seek legal counsel when engaging in influencer marketing agreements.

[1] “Instagram Marketing: The Definitive Guide (2021)” – Influencer Marketing Hub. (2021). Retrieved 15 July 2023, from

[2] “Number of Instagram users in the United States from 2019 to 2023” – Statista. (2021). Retrieved 15 July 2023, from

[3] “Gigi Hadid: Social Media Helped Launch My Career” – W Magazine. (2016). Retrieved 15 July 2023, from

[4] “The Instagram Factor: The New Price of Modelling” – (2022). Retrieved 15 July 2023, from

[5] “41% of Americans have experienced online harassment” – Pew Research Center. (2020). Retrieved 15 July 2023, from

[6] “Influencer Marketing: Social Media Influencer Market Stats and Research for 2021” – Business Insider. (2021). Retrieved 23 July 2023, from

[7] “Selling Sex – BBC Documentary.” BBC. (2020). Retrieved 23 July 2023, from