Written by: Izaak Crook
According to the Global Digital Statshot from We Are Social and Hootsuite, an enormous 3.196 billion people actively use social media, which equates to 42% of the world’s population. That means with the right marketing strategy and digital campaign, you could reach literally billions of potential customers across the globe.
When it comes to shopping online, 74% of people trust social networks to guide them to purchase decisions. That means that 3 out of every 4 customers on social media will look to the likes of family, friends and social media influencers for reviews on products or items before investing, and that’s why influencer marketing has become such an imperative part of online marketing in the 21st century. These facts come from an infographic created by Leverage Marketing, which can be found here.
But what exactly is a social media influencer?
A social media influencer is an individual who utilises a variety of social media platforms to express their opinions on specific brands or products, consequently influencing their captive audience.
The concept of an influencer is simple – they’re a ‘normal’ person who is a representative of the general public, honestly reviewing and discussing products and building a relationship of trust with their audience.
They have the power to affect the purchase of specific products by reviewing them across platforms like YouTube, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram among others, effectively utilising their authority, knowledge, authenticity, leverage or position of power within the industry to engage with their followers.
How to Be a Social Media Influencer
AdWeek Magazine states that influencer marketing will be a $10 billion industry by the year 2020, while Alex Bolden of Oscar De La Renta has claimed that their production of handbags has doubled, saying the ‘business has taken off through [their] engagement with the influencer community’.
It’s pretty undeniable that social media influencers are not only here to stay, but the industry is only getting more formidable. With British influencers like ‘Zoella’ or Zoe Sugg racking up over 3 million views on some YouTube videos, it’s not difficult to see why brands choose to partner up with social media influencers to promote their products.
So how do you become a social media influencer yourself? As an ever-growing industry, it can be pretty crowded in the influencer market, but it’s not impossible to break in and make an impact.
We’ve outlined some top tips to help you to build your own following online. Here’s where to start if you want to become a social media influencer.
Find your Niche
As we previously mentioned, the influencer market is crowded – and this is only going to get more and more busy as the industry grows. Your first port of call on your journey to becoming a social media influencer is to find your niche.
You want to find a corner of the internet that you can put your mark on, and create a space for yourself to build an audience. You’ll want to find a niche that forms the foundation of your social media brand, something that isn’t too crowded. Similarly, you don’t want to talk yourself into a corner by discussing something that isn’t currently popular, so it’s about finding a happy medium.
It doesn’t matter what you’re looking to talk about, but you’ve got to think about how you’re going to be different. Perhaps you’re focusing on vintage fashion? Maybe you’re focusing on sustainable clothing brands? Why don’t you look at exclusively non-chain restaurants? You could even be a fashion blogger reviewing the high street, but with a twist on your review format to make you a little different.
Find your voice, identify it and most importantly of all – stick to it!
Build your Brand
The next step in becoming an influencer on social media is to work on building your brand. You’re going to need to do your research, and figure out what you need to do to get the ball rolling.
Research the industry you’re going to attempt to be influencing. Who are the main influencers in the game? Which sorts of content are getting engagement within this industry? Which brands are working with influencers in this industry? Where are the gaps? Could you work these gaps to your advantage and build your niche?
Think about how you want your brand to look. Are you becoming an influencer with a ‘name’ like Zoella or Inthefrow? Are you marketing as yourself and consequently sticking with your name?
Decide how you’re going to kick off your presence, and build your content strategy, your tone of voice and your brand around this.
Create a Unified Presence
Figure out which platforms you want to engage with, and start to build your social media platforms appropriately.
It’s important to understand each social media platform before you begin to strategise. How many times is optimum to post on Instagram? Which times is Snapchat most populated? Which types of videos get the most views?
Better to focus on a few platforms you’re happy with and to post consistently and build your brand on those than to try and juggle your resources and focus on a platform you’re not 100% confident with.
Once you’ve decided which platforms you’re working with, it’s time to create a consistent branding across all platforms. Make sure your handle names are the same, your bios are easily identifiable, and that you’re creating a consistent experience for followers looking to engage with you across multiple platforms.
Not only that, but be mindful of cover image sizes, resolution and appropriate dimensions to look as professional as possible.
Publish your Content
Now it’s time to start publishing. Work on building your content and post regularly.
Do your research on which types of content work best across each platform. How many hashtags are optimum for Instagram? Do gifs increase engagement on Twitter? What is the optimum length for blog posts?
Images are optimum in different sizes across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Videos need to be cut in different ways to work best across Instagram stories or Facebook. Facebook videos work better when uploaded directly to Facebook as opposed to an external link. These are all handy tips that will help you to create a slick social presence when you publish.
Research which hashtags get a lot of interaction, and be sure to work those into your posts. Jump on topics that are trending to become relevant and get more eyes on your posts. Relate your content to things that are getting the public talking, like The X Factor, or a topical story.
Publish your content, consistently research, and be adaptable across each platform.
Put Your Personality Across
Your personality is your best asset as a social media influencer. Consumers don’t necessarily turn to influencers to see glossy advertisements of products, but rather genuine and honest reviews of things they could be interested in purchasing for themselves.
Influencers are most successful when they’re relatable, which is why your personality is an important tool for building your brand.
Shake any worries about focusing on professionalism, and start working on how you best communicate yourself. Are you a talented creative writer that can bring words to life? Is humour your bag and can you get that across? Are you quick-witted and able to try your hand at some hashtag puns?
Be yourself, be proud about it, and encourage people to follow you because they want to hear your voice. If you discuss in a way that you know is true to yourself, your audience will trust your opinion as an influencer by understanding your honesty.
Engage with your Audience
A social media influencer relies on their relationship with their audience, which means you can’t simply rely on posting your content and hoping people will engage with it.
The key is in the word relationship – which means it’s a two way street. Engaging with your audience is key, and building a space where they can engage, trust and enjoy your content is imperative for your success as a social media influencer.
This means replying to comments, sparking up discussions, enjoying conversations and fostering a community on all of your social media channels.
The same can be said for a potential audience too – if you want to entice people to follow you on a social media platform, why not engage with them first? Search for keywords relating to what you’re talking about and start up a conversation.
Network, Network, Network
The quickest way to get yourself known on social media is to network – and you can do this both digitally and in person.
In person, why not use apps like Meetup to see which events are happening in your local area to do with freelancers, entrepreneurs or perhaps even digital media or social media. Pop along, attend, promote yourself and build a community of contacts that could be incredibly useful in the future.
Digitally, it’s time to introduce yourself to the community you’re entering. Follow fellow influencers and businesses within your chosen industry, follow back anyone who happens to follow you, research which Twitter community chats are happening and get involved weekly, engage with hashtags on Instagram, join groups on Facebook and promote your content in any way that you can.
To get off the ground you need to believe in your brand and consequently communicate that, so put the effort in and you’ll start to see your networking pay off.
The saying goes that ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, and trust us, the same thing can be said for a social media influencer.
One of the most imperative parts in being an influencer is that you’re consistent. Regularly post across all the platforms you’ve chosen to engage in. If you’re blogging, consistently post there. If you’re on YouTube, get ready to film videos consistently.
With the nature of algorithms, and the speedy nature of social media timelines, consistency is key because your tweets, posts and videos will have a short shelf life. Get more eyes on your content by being consistent – and this is a great way to catch the eye of brands too!
To tie in with the last point, being patient is a skill that you’ll need to learn if you’re serious about becoming a social media influencer.
The extra mile is never crowded, so you’ll need to develop some thick skin and be ready to put the graft in to get your voice heard in a busy arena.
Patience will set you apart from the competition, help you be realistic about your goals and consequently, help you become an influencer.
Design a Blog/Website
While social media is a great way to get yourself noticed, and will be your primary tool as a social media influencer, in order to look professional to brands, to create an exceptional presence across the web and to have a better chance of attracting traffic, you need to get yourself a blog or a website designed.
While you may think a professional looking website or blog could set you back a hefty price, blog platforms like WordPress actually come with a host of templates available for you to customise to suit your needs, letting you build something without a budget that looks slick and matches your branding.
There are also a host of different widgets and apps that you can utilise for free to add a tech-savvy element to your website. When you acquire a little more budget, of course you can branch out and get a designer to help you create something slick.
A blog or website is a great place to archive your content, it allows you to create content that’s a little more evergreen and won’t disappear as quickly on social media, and it also gives you something tangible to show any brands or future followers as a marketing and sales technique to represent what you’re trying to do.
Brands earn an average of $7.65 for every $1 they spend on influencer marketing, as is revealed by Influencer Marketing Hub. As such, it’s no surprise that many brands actually have an allocated budget specifically for working with influencers. The best way to get yourself in front of brands you’d like to collaborate outside of oldskool networking is to get savvy.
This means wising up on social media tactics and techniques like SEO. Search Engine Optimisation is the art of getting your blog or website to rank within the Google search results so that users can stumble across your content when searching for relevant keywords.
Implementing even basic SEO strategy to your blog or website could be a surefire way of increasing your traffic and starting to build your community as an influencer.
Using the free resources available on the internet which discuss social media platforms and how to get the best out of them will help you to deploy tactics expert brands use to increase engagement.
Be savvy, be forward-thinking and strive to never stop learning, and you’ll see your influencer status cemented.
Analytics are Everything
This is arguably the most important tip of all, and one of the things that will help you the most in your quest to become a social media influencer.
There are a number of different analytics tools out there that are available to you that will help you to become a more successful social media influencer, if you know how to use them.
If your website is hosted on a platform like Blogger or WordPress, it will come with built in statistics that will show you which of your posts are most popular, and consequently which types of content aren’t doing so well. As a social media influencer, this is your most important information.
All of the aforementioned tips aren’t going to be particularly successful if you don’t understand your audience, what it likes to engage with, what it’s not so keen on and how each platform is going to perform best for you.
Take note of which types of content are performing well, and use this formula to build a strategy moving forward, giving your audience more of what they want.
There are also tools like Google Analytics which you can register your blog or website for. This will give you information like which types of platforms are driving clicks to your content, how long people are staying on each pages, which are your most viewed pages, how the user journey moves from page to page, and an endless host of important stats that will help you to become a better influencer.
When it comes to social media, almost all platforms have a built in analytics function that will help you to understand what you’re posting. You can see which types of content is getting the most likes, when the best times to post on Twitter are, how many people are commenting on your posts on Facebook and which hashtags are causing an uplift in your reach.
Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have particularly great insights tools – check in on them weekly and use the information provided to adapt moving forward.
Make a Plan
While it’s important your content is personal, true to yourself and relatable – it’s also important that you have a plan to stay on track, be consistent and build your brand – all key points in building your platform as a social media influencer.
Make a plan for how often you want to post, which types of content you’d like to cover and when you’re going to do it. Outline any seasonal events you may want to cover, while making a note of any national days could help you stay ahead of the curve and plan a little campaign at regular times.
Ensure your plan runs for at least a month in the future so that you’ve got plenty of content lined up and a consistent structure to work on building your brand. When you tie this in with all the previous points mentioned in this article, you’re on to a winner in the social media influencer industry.
Social media influencers are more important to the world of digital marketing than ever before, and this certainly won’t be slowing down any time soon. It’s the perfect time to start your journey as a social media influencer, because more brands are utilising their services, and more social media users are turning to influencers to help them with their shopping than ever before.
Follow these steps to slowly but surely build your online presence as a social media influencer, and soon you could be creating content that is highly engaging, getting lots of interaction from your audience, seeing your followers on every platform growing and consequently building relationships with brands in no time.
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