What Is a Social Media Influencer and How to Become One
An influencer is a user on social media who has established credibility in a specific industry. Social media influencers have access to a large audience and can persuade others by virtue of their authenticity and reach. Since the rise of social media, influencers have become a major trend. These are ‘ordinary’ people who have earned a substantial following due to their expertise and transparency. They are being used more and more by companies to grab the attention of millennials as this group is less receptive to traditional marketing techniques. Brands purposely seek out influencers who create content that subtly pushes a product or service. The partnership between the brand and influencer is mutually beneficial. The company successfully reaches their target audience while the influencer is paid and continues to grow their following.
Now, trying to become a social media influencer is an even more onerous venture. You have some work to do before you’ll be able to get 9.2 million views on a video of you reading mean comments about your dog like the aforementioned Miss Marbles or even the 11 million views on how to make “galaxy slime” from DIY channel, Threadbanger. The road to those number of views is a long one, but it’s not impossible to be an influencer in your industry with the right approach.
By following the steps below, you’ll be on your way to growing your following, attracting the attention of brands and successfully becoming a social media influencer:
Find your topic (and get obsessed)
Make a plan
Remember: content is king
Build your community
Don’t buy your followers
Network IRL (In real life)
Further your reach with a stunning website
Get active on forums
Collaborate with other influencers and brands
01. Find your topic (and get obsessed)
The first thing you want to do is find the subject that you’ll be covering across your social channels. The more specific, the better, as there will be less competition. However, try not to choose a subject that is too niche, as you may end up tweeting yourself into a corner. Find something that you’re genuinely interested in that has a following of its own and dive into it. It can be a passion from childhood, a hobby in which you’ve developed outstanding skills, or your professional expertise: the important factor is to be passionate about what you’re going to talk about. Bringing the passion has two major benefits: first, you won’t get bored, and it will tell in your videos, tweets or other outlets. Secondly, passion is a strong engine for quality: the more adamant you are about your topic, the more convincing you are.
Once you know what you’re going to cover, consume everything about the subject you possibly can. Stay on top of your chosen topic by following related news and blogs as much as you’re able to. If there’s something new in the industry, you want to know about it and you want to be able to give your two cents on your social channels. Assess your perspective by getting the story from many outlets and see how your opinion or view differs. Highlighting this difference allows you to stand out and provide valuable information to your audience.
02. Make a plan
Once you’ve chosen a topic and are well seasoned in the subject, it’s time to strategize. This includes making a plan with your content strategy and answering questions like: what is your persona? Your message? The tone that resonates with your target audience? This is also the time to get all of your ducks in a row to organize how and when you will produce, edit, and publish your content. Making a schedule at least a month into the future will allow you to easily maneuver choppy waters if you run into hiccups at the beginning of your journey. Do your research on what’s the acceptable number of times to post per day on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat. Dig even further to find out what days and times are most popular (for your audience) to post as well. Knowing these things ahead of time will help you define your schedule going forward.
03. Get social
If you really go all-in to become a social media influencer, you will need to find the networks that fit within your industry and target audience. It may be best to start with one or two major channels (like YouTube and Instagram) in the beginning. The idea is to stay consistent, so it’s important to not take on more than you can bear. Still, it’s recommended to sign up to all networks in order to secure your user handle. For each network that you sign up for, write up a solid biography with relevant links to your other social channels or website so your audience can easily find you. It should feel like you are EVERYWHERE. Keep the same tone and description across all the platforms that you open. Also, when signing up to social networks be sure to go for the “business” account if available. These types of accounts provide much better metrics to track your posts and allow you to create paid promotions when you’re ready.
04. Remember: content is king
Hope you like creating content, because that’s really what being a social media influencer is all about, and it will be around 90% of what you’re doing. Here are some key factors to keep in mind when planning your content:
Consistently produce content: Social media moves fast and if you think you can go a week or two without posting and expect the same following when you return, you might want to reassess your goals. Your content should also remain fresh and relevant. This means identifying trends you see on social media with others in your industry and responding accordingly with content of your own. It will likely take some time, but you’ll need to find a balance of trending content and content that is uniquely yours to share on your channel. Keeping up with trends is one thing, but your biggest challenge may actually be to know the trends before they are labeled as “trends”.
Mind your hashtags: Hashtags (represented by the symbol #) allow you to further your reach to people also following that hashtag – they’re essentially a universal language that allow you to pop up in places you might not, normally. Researching trending and relevant hashtags is important, which will require you to do some digging within posts that cover your chosen subject. Hashtags on both Twitter and Instagram are very much worth your time to get right, but surprisingly, they don’t matter on Facebook and YouTube for the success of your posts. Also, note that depending on the network you’re posting to, the number of hashtags is also important. Curious to know more about this magical symbol and its power? Find out more in this complete guide on everything you need to know about hashtags. Bonus: Here's a list of the most popular hashtags which you can use.
Experiment with all types of formats: It’s 2018 and social networks have considerably evolved, coming up with new revolutionary ways to post your content. Instagram is no longer just for photos but also for posting Stories – which are photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours but have amazing exposure potential. Another example: almost all social networks have some sort of “live” option that will stream what you’re doing in real-time (something you should be taking advantage of). The “live” craze looks like it won’t be stopping anytime soon and for good reason. Influencers can use live streams to give their audience a glimpse of what goes on “behind the scenes,” which can help build trust between them and their customers. For a budding social media influencer like yourself, a live video can show your followers a more personal, off the cuff presentation.
Even if hosting live streams or other less traditional posting methods don’t become your primary method, a social media influencer should be well rehearsed with the tools they are given. Meaning, you should at least know what they do and how to use them. Knowing the tools of the social media landscape is what sets you apart from an everyday user and an influencer.
05. Build your community
An important part of building a following is engaging with them. There are a couple of ways to do this, for example: responding every time someone comments on one of your posts is simple but shows your audience that you’re a “real person.” You’ll also want to invite your audience to engage with you and let them know that you would like to hear from them by telling them to leave a comment or ask a question.
Going back to the “live” way of doing things, it provides an opportunity for your audience to reach out to you in the most direct way possible. Host a Q&A or even ask your audience for advice on something to let them know they are being heard. If you’re producing video content, end a video by posing a question and start your next video with some of the answers you received. A community heard is a community that feels loved.
06. Don’t buy your followers
Hey, you know what’s a terrible idea? Buying your followers, that’s what! The road to whatever success you’re seeking is likely a long one, but buying followers to give the illusion that people like what you’re doing not only sets you up for failure, but it’s also just lame. Don’t do it, as it will only hurt you in the long run. It’s important to stay open and honest with your following. Even if that means starting small, it will only be a matter of time till your following grows and blossoms into a loyal and trusting community.
07. Network IRL (In real life)
A long time ago, there was this old-fashioned concept where people would gather in the same location and talk to each other face to face. On purpose! In fact, if you look for them, you can still find these “analog” social gatherings. Attending networking events is a great way to get to know others in your industry, which could help spawn a future collaboration.
08. Further your reach with a stunning website
Just because you’re aiming to be an influencer in social media doesn’t mean your presence should stop there. Having a website or blog (or a website with a blog) gives you yet another place for people to find you. Having a blog dedicated to the happenings in your industry will only further solidify your place as an influencer. Plus, you can easily share your blog posts to your social channels. Creating a website is easier than ever thanks to all the available ready-made templates
If you have unique content shared across multiple social channels, your website can be a great place to showcase it all together. For example, take food blogger and Instagram influencer, Jeremy Jacobowitz from Brunch Boys – his website is home to his blog posts, YouTube feed, links to his social media and press coverage. Now that’s the way to do it!
09. Get active on forums
If there’s a dedicated forum(s) to the industry or subject you cover, make your presence known there. Not only can you help share your knowledge (and links to your social channels), you may end up learning a thing or two from other industry experts while you’re at it. While being active on other forums is great don’t let that stop you from creating your own. You can keep the conversation going by adding Wix Forum to your website.
10. Collaborate with other influencers and brands
While your primary focus, in the beginning, should be to create and release great content and slowly but surely bud out your community, you will eventually want to look into collaborating with others. Whether it’s another influencer in the same (or different) industry, or a business looking to tackle your target audience’s demographics, partnering up can be a fun and mutually beneficial endeavor. If you already have an idea of who you’d like to collaborate with, be sure that they align with your values and have a similar following (you want to appeal to their audience and vice versa).
Before jumping off the deep end, be sure you’ve waded the water first. Follow them on their social channels and engage accordingly. Be tactful and not tacky. Don’t come off as super “extra” to your potential collab partner. You’re trying to show genuine interest and respect, so don’t go overboard with comments and emojis. Pitch them with a proper email or DM. Be upfront, state your intentions, show enthusiasm, and be as personable as possible. Did you know that Wix has it’s own partnership program? For more info and how to apply check out how to become a Wix influencer.
By Blake Stimac
Community & Social Media Manager