According to the Pope, the Virgin Mary is “history’s biggest influencer.”
Now, we’re not gonna argue with the Pope. But this article will be focussing on how to be an influencer in the digital age–big ups to Mary for killing it back in the day, though.
The modern celebrity looks nothing like the celebrities of our past. In fact, a whole new category of celeb has been added to the zeitgeist: the influencer.
The base definition of an influencer in marketing is someone who has the power to affect buying habits of social media users based on their position, authority, knowledge, or relationship with their social audience.
When you are an influencer, you are not simply used or considered a marketing tool. An influencer is a social relationship asset to a brand, and working with an influencer should feel more like a collaboration than simply a brand or vendor relationship.
Let’s start with some info, and then we will move into the steps to get you started on your influencer journey.
There’s a Lot of People on the Internet
To put it in perspective, in April of 2021, the global total of social media users reached 4.33 billion people, growing by more than half a billion in just the past 12 months.
Almost 99% of global internet users within the age range of 16 to 64 use a social network.
And you’re saying, “No shit, but what does that mean for my brand and me?” Well, that’s a lot of people, from all different walks of life. It means you’ve got a shit ton of potential customers to tap into. Not that you didn’t already know all this, but it definitely puts your marketing efforts into perspective when you consider the actual numbers.
Types of Influencers
Ok, now you’re motivated to find an influencer that will fit perfectly with your brand. Let’s look at a few different categories of influencers so you can see which one sounds right for you and your passions!
Mega-influencers: There are no fixed boundaries between each of these categories, but to be considered a mega-influencer, you should have a following of more than one million on at least one of your platforms. Musicians, movie stars, sportspeople, and Kylie Jenner all would fall into this category.
Macro-influencers: Let’s take a step down from the Kylie Jenners of the world: A macro influencer is considered someone with a follower count of between 40,000 and 1 million followers. With a high profile, macro-influencers are excellent at raising awareness and often consist of successful online experts specializing in a specific type of content.
Micro-influencers and nano-influencers: There are typically no celebrities in this category. It consists primarily of “ordinary” people who make unique content devoted to a particular niche. Their followers are invested in that niche, and micro-influencers are much more likely to spend their time engaging directly with their following. Micro-influencers tend to have a following of between 1,000 and 40K followers.
By Content Format
Images and short-form videos: On Instagram, influencers craft their posts around a captivating image. This is also the case with the social media platform Pinterest. If your content strategy uses a mix of formats, make sure you are looking at more than one platform that will work to reach your audience!
Bloggers: Yes, blogging is still considered popular today! If you have always seen yourself as a Carrie Bradshaw type, staring out of your window at night thinking about how your mediocre fling sent you a text reading “WYD” and wondering, “What AM I doing?” then blogging is the right spot for you. Brands pay top dollar to get their products featured in popular blogs, as the dedicated readers are already primed to trust their writer.
Youtubers: If your favorite type of content to create is videos, Youtube is the place for you! Brands love to align themselves with popular YouTube creators. Videos on YouTube tend to be considered “long-form” content as they are more than the 15 seconds offered to you on other video apps like Tik Tok.
How to Become an Influencer
We wouldn’t be surprised if you just scrolled past all the other content to get this section. We get it: You have ambition, passion, and a need for a robust social following.
What’s Your Niche?
Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses: What are you good at? What are you passionate about? What are you compelled to share with the world?
From lifestyle influencers to fashion bloggers and everything in between, any of the following categories are options to consider as you begin to form a plan around what content you would like to create:
- Health and Fitness
The main key to achieving influencer status is to add your own unique voice to whatever category (or categories).
Identify your main platform
It is essential to understand what the best format for your content to be received is. For example, if you are a beauty expert, Twitter won’t work as well for you as a visual platform, like Instagram.
Actually, 93% of social media influencers prefer Instagram. Even though that’s a high number, you don’t have to focus all your effort on being an Instagram influencer if your content doesn’t vibe with the platform.
Ask yourself the following questions to select a platform:
- What is the most compelling form your content takes? Visual? Text? Short-form? Long-form?
- Which platform is your target audience most likely to be using?
- Are there multiple platforms that you can use to create the most visibility?
Priority #1: Your Content
Once you understand your niche, target audience, and optimal platform, you can begin creating high-quality content that will resonate with your audience and bring you into the professional influencing world.
Content needs to be unique and authentic. It may sound easy, but the current influencer market is highly saturated as more and more influencers jump on the scene. You need to think clearly about what it will take to make you and your content stand out with credibility and authenticity.
It takes more than hashtags, brand collaborations, trending topics, and giveaways to boost your engagement rates. Your content should be more than just keywords. It needs to be meaningful and valuable to your audience, inspire them, teach them, make them laugh, make them cry. Basically, the content you’re publishing needs to move them in some way.
Now, this may take some trial and error, your first piece of published content may not be precisely the quality you were looking for, and that’s okay! Remember, listen to your audience. An effective way to garner traction is to create content that your audience or subscribers desire. Make sure you take the time to understand your follower demographics, your community, and that you’re doing this for them.
Now that you have found the unique quirk that distinguishes you from the competition ensure that your content tone and style remain consistent as you post content and grow your fans.
Consistency and Engagement
Being a quality influencer takes work and a lot of it. You’ve prioritized your content and are now ready to begin your journey. But before you post that first post, finalize a posting schedule and frequency to receive increased visibility via the social media platforms’ algorithms.
Do your research. When is the best time to post on your platform? If you need a guide on when to post on Instagram, check out this cheat sheet.
There are other guidelines and recommendations to give yourself a leg up when navigating social media algorithms. For example, it’s not enough just to create Instagram posts for your grid and Instagram stories anymore. Instagram requires users to regularly use all of their features including IGTV, Instagram Live, Reels, and Stickers to gain the most reach. It also helps to spend a lot of time using the platform, even when you haven’t posted. All of these little habits can help you reap big rewards.
These best practices change across social media profiles—what works for Instagram may not work for Facebook, LinkedIn, or blog posts. Analytics are your friend, and tracking your insights will help you determine a strategic posting schedule tailored to your social media network of choice.
It’s also a good look to reply to comments and answer questions that your followers ask you. Engaging with your followers is the hallmark of a good influencer and encourages a loyal following that will increase engagement metrics on your posts. Personal connections with your audience solidify your role as an influencer.
Being an influencer is a full-time job. It takes hard work and patience, and it’s not for the faint of heart. But if you are serious about sharing your passion with a broader audience and connecting to others by advertising yourself through different social media channels, then let’s buckle down and get to work.
Follow the above tips, and maybe one day, we will be the ones working with you to tell a brand’s story to the community.
We can’t wait.
“Don’t forget to fall in love with yourself first” – Carrie Bradshaw