With few exceptions, most influencers are not created by accident. They work hard to build their brand and connect with their audience, and most of them have challenges to overcome. Chances are pretty good that your dad is going to tell you to get a real job, and since it could take years before you see any money, he may have a valid point. But if you work this like a side gig until it becomes a viable career, you can prove your naysayers wrong (eventually). These 14 tips for how to become an influencer work on any social media platform.
Kinds of Influencers
How many thousands of followers – or hundreds of thousands of followers – do you need to be successful? You might be surprised. Brands work with influencers at every level:
- Mega-influencers: more than 1 million followers (mostly celebrities)
- Macro-influencers: 500K to 1 million followers
- Mid-tier influencers: 50K to 500K followers
- Micro-influencers: 10K to 50K followers
- Nano-influencers: 1K to 10K followers
It’s often less expensive and more effective to partner with a group of small influencers than spend money on a big celebrity.
With 16.8K TikTok followers, no one would mistake micro-influencer Austen Tosone for a traditional celebrity, but her level of audience engagement makes her a favorite with brands.
1. Define Your Industry Niche: Follow your passion
The first step to becoming a social media influencer is to find your passion or your niche and go from there. If you’re interested in something, chances are a lot of other people will be too. Most niches can attract a market, so whether you love travel, fashion, makeup, cooking, or anything else, you should be able to find your target audience and start creating quality content.
When picking your niche, go for something you are truly interested in and knowledgeable about. Your audience will be able to tell if you are enthusiastic about the content you are posting, and as a result, are more likely to watch and interact with your videos. Choosing something you are more passionate about will also encourage you to put in the hard work and time needed to keep up with the ongoing demand of creating and posting content.
Some of the most successful social media influencers can captivate millions of followers with lots of views and engagement. However, the drawback to some of the more popular niches can be the intense competition that comes alongside them. A good way of tackling this competition is to choose something that really reflects your personality and makes great use of your unique knowledge or skills.
2. Set Goals
Social media influencers come in all flavors and some have very different goals. If you’re a business owner, for example, your goal might be to establish yourself as an industry expert and build your business. Your initial goal could be to simply make meaningful connections with people who love what you love.
Over time as you grow your social network, your goals may become more ambitious. The faster your online presence expands, the more often you’ll need to revisit your goals and refine your next moves.
3. Choose Your Social Media Channels
Once you have your niche and your goals planned out, it’s time to choose your social media platform. Influencers are generally most popular on just one or two platforms, so focus on those that best suit your content. Each of the major social media platforms comes with a variety of benefits and each is better suited to different forms of content.
- FACEBOOK – As one of the most popular social network platforms out there, (with over 2.7 billion users as of January 2021) using Facebook as your social network of choice means it has the potential to reach the largest audience. It is super easy to create a Facebook page for your business, and Facebook offers straightforward tools to help you keep a track of your statistics as your page grows. Facebook is very versatile and can cater to photos, text posts, videos, polls and it is often being updated to include the newest features, such as stories. Facebook can also be a great platform for running contests as well as cross-promoting your content and boosting your traffic.
- YOUTUBE – YouTube comes in a close second for popularity, with almost 2.3 billion active users, and as such is a great platform to use and share valuable content. YouTube also has the benefit of showing your videos in Google search results, making you more visible and increasing your reach. YouTube is excellent for longer-form content, such as instructional videos, product reviews, music, and comedy.
- INSTAGRAM – Instagram is a very visual, creative platform which is perfect for photos and short videos. It is simple, easy to use, and makes great use of hashtags (more on that later!). Instagram is exceptionally popular with a younger demographic, making it the ideal platform for fashion influencers, food influencers, or beauty influencers.
- TIKTOK – The use of this short-form video platform has surged over the last few years, and is the most up-to-date place to connect with younger audiences. Any content that would fit concisely into a short-form video is perfect for TikTok, and its use of the hashtag feature means that it is straightforward to connect and promote your posts to your desired audiences.
- TWITTER – Twitter is a great resource for social media influencers to keep their audience up to date. The real-time posting feature of Twitter means that users can post much more frequently without overwhelming viewers. Its 280 character limit for each post could be seen as limiting, but it ensures you get to the point and keep things efficient and easy to read for your audiences. The accessibility of the platform allows you to appeal to a larger audience and makes more potential for viral posts.
4. Switch to a Business Account
A great way to optimize your social media presence is by switching to a business account. Doing so will open up more opportunities and give you access to statistics such as your main demographic, which types of posts perform the best, and even what time of day is best to post for maximum engagement. This information, when used well, is vital to running and growing a successful social media presence.
To gain maximum exposure and audience growth, cross-posting across multiple platforms is essential. For example, if Instagram is your primary social media channel, make sure to post on Facebook and Twitter announcing every time you upload a new photo. Try to think of similar, but still snappy captions to include to keep audiences on every platform entertained, and link all of your social media channels in your bio to ensure that viewers coming from any platform are able to easily find you and stay up to date with your activity.
6. Know Your Audience Demographics
Understanding your target audience is essential if you aim to have a good relationship with your followers. A successful influencer will know their follower base well and be able to target that audience. Using the analytics tools built into most social media platforms is the easiest way to understand your followers, with information such as audience size, age, gender, locations, occupation, interests and much more. This information will help you tailor your content to your audience, keeping them interested, as well as helping you to identify brands that cater to your demographic.
7. Choose the Right Types of Content
Long-form content, short-form content, videos, etc. e.g. fashion would work best on insta as the platform is based around pictures with shorter captions to keep things interesting/promote, however, how-to content would be best on youtube as it gives time and space to show and explain how to do things
8. Attracting Brands
If attracting brand sponsorship is one of your end goals, find social media channels where your preferred brands are most active and take a look at the type of content shared by influencers they work with. Try not to overwhelm your followers with a feed full of advertisements, and be clear about which posts are endorsements. Chances are, your followers won’t mind provided you are open about it and are promoting products and brands you really believe in.
9. Write a Great Bio
Think of your bio as a tiny little sales pitch that tells people who you are. Keep it short and include a keyword that identifies your niche. Your bio should also provide your contact information such as your name, email address, and links to all of your associated social channels.
10. Think Ripples in a Pond: Start Small
The first step to becoming a social media influencer is to establish recognition amongst your family and friends in your area of expertise. Promote your pages and posts amongst your friends, and encourage them to share and engage with the content you are making. Focus on the content you create is consistently interesting and shareable and try to stay focused on your goals and your niche with every post you share.
11. Focus on Relevant Content
Think about your favorite social media influencers. What do they do to keep their audience engaged and the views coming in? The answer: stay relevant.
- Keep a clear focus on what kind of content you want to be posting, and try to stick to it. Staying up to date with current trends and the type of content that is attracting a lot of attention for those in a similar niche to yours is a great way to stay relevant.
- Be creative – try to alternate the kind of posts you are publishing, while still keeping things relevant to your brand. Whether this is as simple as mixing up the locations of your Instagram posts, putting your own spin on viral trends, or collaborating with other influencers in your niche, try to think of ways to keep your content fresh and engaging that keeps the spirit of your brand shining through.
Must Read: How to Brand Yourself on Instagram
- Post on a schedule – Be consistent, and try to post as regularly as possible. This can be anything from a video every day, every week, or every month, or any other variation that works for you. The key is to make it realistic and stick to it. Your audience will be more engaging and allow them to get excited for new content if they know they will be receiving consistently quality content on a regular basis.
12. Hashtag Like a Pro
Attracting more followers is best not left to chance. Hashtagging high-quality content can help you get your posts in front of a whole new audience.
Dog accessory company Lucy and co. posts adorable photos of the owner’s fashionably dressed Goldendoodle, Copper, modeling their products. They use different hashtags related to each post. A Monday post was hashtagged: #monday #mondaypup #dogsofinsta #doodlesofinstagram #instadog #doodlesoftheworld #dogtails #dailydoodledog #dogharness #brighteyedandbushytailed
13. Build a Content Strategy
Maintaining focus isn’t easy, but it is the path to success. Planning your content In advance helps you create interest and deliver enough variety to keep your audience engaged. One effective content strategy starts with defining content pillars.
- Let’s build an example using a popular niche, fashion, and a budding lifestyle influencer whose ideal follower is a young businesswoman on a tight budget. The content focus is expert tips for looking professional on a budget. A content pillar strategy might look like this:
- Everyday chic
- Wardrobe basics
- Dressing up cheap pieces
- Shopping sales
- How short is too short?
- Dressing to impress
- Business meeting jewelry
- Understated makeup
- The importance of a really good bra
- How to fight wrinkles and avoid sweat stains
- Statement pieces
- Why you should own one great timeless suit
- High-end thrift shop chic
- Power lunch
- What to wear
- What to order
- What to say
- How to handle spills
Each of these sub-categories can be spun out into multiple posts. And since funny posts are popular, you could even schedule posts about “what not to do.”
14. Don’t Get Discouraged
Becoming a social media star takes time. To succeed, keep doing your thing, even if you feel like you’re talking to yourself. If your viewership doesn’t grow, try new approaches or different platforms.
Now that you know the most reliable tips and tricks to becoming a social media influencer, it’s over to you. Remember: stay consistent and take time to create quality content, and from there you can go build your audience and promote yourself across a variety of social media channels using lots of relevant hashtags.
If you stick to the program, there’s a chance of making your social media platform into your entire career, but keep in mind that everything takes time and success won’t happen overnight. Keep at it, and see where life as a social media influencer can take you!