Social media has led to so many changes to our lives and the way we communicate. It’s also created entirely new career opportunities which simply weren’t possible before. Enter the social media influencer.
There was over $2.1 billion spent on influencer marketing on Instagram in 2017. With this kind of money sloshing about it isn’t surprising that more and more people want to become social media influencers.
The idea of being able to make a living simply by updating your social media channels on a regular basis is a hugely attractive notion for many people. After all, if you’re online so many hours a day, why not make a career out of it?
Social media specialists HubSpot define an influencer as “ordinary people who have earned a substantial loyal following because of their expertise and transparency”.
Brands want to leverage the reputations of these influencers to promote and sell their own products, giving rise to a huge increase in the amount of money brands are willing to spend on securing influencers who will promote their products as services.
Business Insider says, “As influencers become more plentiful and proven, brand dollars have flooded into the space. Brands are set to spend up to $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022, per Business Insider Intelligence estimates, based on Mediakix data.”
According to Business Insider, Instagram is the gold standard: nearly four in five (79%) brands predominantly tap Instagram for influencer campaigns, compared with Facebook (46%), YouTube (36%), Twitter (24%), and LinkedIn (12%), per Influencer Marketing Hub.
Reach has always been the decisive metric. In the past, brands would love for influencers with the largest audiences. However, things are changing.
Writing in Forbes, Krishna Subramanian says: “Fans of an influencer want to believe that there is a genuine connection between the influencer and the ad. As influencer marketing efforts become more sophisticated in 2019, branded content will need to showcase a strong brand affinity and creators who genuinely love or have a strong affinity for their products or services.”
This has led HubSpot to predict that within the overall trend towards an increase in demand for social media influencers, micro-influencers (influencers with less than 100K followers) are becoming most sought after.
The first step to being successful as a social media influencer is to find a niche in which you can speak authentically and authoritatively.
HubSpot recommends the 5-3-2 principle: “Out of every 10 posts you publish in your social media account, five of these should be valuable content written by someone else, three are educational and informative content you created yourself, and two should be posts about yourself”.
You need to publish good quality content on a consistent basis. Reach out to other people and brands in your industry to chat, exchange likes and comments and get yourself noticed. You’ll need to invest time in building your community. Responding positively to messages and comments is just part of the job. You’ll need to reach out wider to invite new people in forums, groups and fan pages linked to your own content.
Becoming an influencer is becoming more difficult. Not only is it becoming to find and claim unique niches for yourself, but brands are also wising up around asking for and measuring ROI.
In 2019, it was reported that 11% of brand spend on social media influencers went to fake accounts, making brands more wary about the influencers they use. They want to ensure the influencers they use have verified audiences. You’ll need to be able to satisfy these concerns if you’re going to make it as an influencer today.
In recent years, some influencers have complained about feelings of pressure and stress that come from constantly needing more likes and engagement and have talked about creator burnout, while others have quit because they feel like their lives are no longer their own.
If you are considering becoming an influencer, it’s important to go into it with your eyes open and understand that there is an inevitable compromise in terms of how much of your life can ever be private as a result.