Updated: Feb 25
A lot of people have been curious to ask what a social media influencer does. Today we take a deep dive into this question. Keep reading to learn more.
The rise of social media influencers began around 2010 when brands started recognizing the potential of using influential people on social networks as effective marketing tools. As more companies embraced this strategy, the number of influencers grew exponentially.
Today, there are millions of active influencers across all major platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook. According to Forbes 2022 report on social media influencers, there were over 50 million active Instagram influencers worldwide – making it one of the most popular platforms for influencers today.
The Influence Of Social Media
Social media plays an integral role in shaping our culture today. From political discourse happening between world leaders via Twitter threads all the way down to everyday conversations about current events taking place within comment sections across various networks – it’s hard not to recognize just how much influence these digital spaces wield over our lives today.
And while this power can certainly be used for good (think raising awareness around causes/issues), there’s no denying that bad actors exist too (think spreading misinformation). It’s therefore imperative that those working within this space take responsibility seriously when using their platform(s) - whether they're a paid professional doing sponsored posts/campaigns or simply someone sharing personal opinions and thoughts publicly - because what we say matters.
When it comes to specifically talking about marketing though, leveraging social channels has proven time and again its ability to generate ROI and tangible results if done right. Companies need look no further than Nike's collaboration with Colin Kaepernick back in 2018 to illustrate potential success stories here when done correctly, even amidst controversy surrounding the subject matter being discussed at hand.
What does a social media influencer do?
So, what does a social media influencer do? A social media influencer is someone who has established credibility and authority in a specific industry or niche and uses various social media platforms to promote products or services related to that niche. Influencers are typically highly engaged with their followers, creating content that resonates with them and encourages engagement.
In short, they create content that resonates with their audience while also growing their following through strategic collaborations and sponsorships. Let's take a closer look at each element:
The cornerstone of any successful social media campaign is great content – whether it be videos, photos, or written posts – which engages your target audience and encourages interaction from them. Types of content vary depending on the platform but can include tutorials/how-to guides, product reviews, lifestyle images/videos, behind-the-scene looks into daily life, etc.
It's important for an influencer to understand what type of content works best for their particular audience so they can create relevant material that resonates with them. This often requires trial-and-error experimentation until you find something that really clicks. Additionally, authenticity is key when creating engaging content – no one wants to see overly polished material devoid of personality.
Growing Their Following:
Once you've created compelling content, it's time to start building your following by actively engaging your current fans while also expanding your reach through strategic tactics like collaborations and sponsorships (more on these later). Consistency is key here – post regularly, interact with comments and messages, respond promptly, etc., so followers know they can rely on you for quality updates every week (or whatever schedule works best).
Other strategies include leveraging hashtags, running giveaways, joining conversations happening within relevant communities, collaborating with other creators, participating in challenges, etc., all designed towards increasing visibility and gaining new followers organically over time.
Collaborations and Sponsorships:
Collaborations involve two or more parties working together, usually exchanging goods/services/money, etc., while sponsorships refer specifically to monetary compensation provided by brands seeking exposure from certain audiences, e.g., sponsoring events/posts/live streams, etc., where an agreed fee will be paid upfront or afterward in exchange for promotion across various channels including blogs/websites/podcasts/live streams, etc.
Both types provide mutual benefits between brand and creator, allowing both sides access to different markets, thus increasing overall reach significantly compared to if done separately. For example, if Brand X partners up with Creator Y, then Brand X gains access to Creator Y's fan base while Creator Y gets paid plus increased visibility among Brand X's customers leading to potentially lucrative opportunities down the line.
How to Become a Social Media Influencer
A. Choose a Niche
Understanding your interests and passions:
Before you can become an effective influencer, you need to understand what topics interest you most and which ones you feel passionate about sharing with others. This will help ensure that your content resonates with your followers and encourages them to engage with it more often. It’s also important to consider the size of the niche market; if there aren't enough people interested in what you have to say, then it may be difficult for you to build up a large following quickly.
Identifying market gaps and opportunities:
Once you've identified your interests, take some time to research potential markets where there might be room for growth or areas where existing influencers haven't been able to capitalize on yet (for example, health & wellness). Doing this kind of research can help give you an edge over competitors as well as provide valuable insight into how best to approach building out your own brand identity within that space.
B. Create a Brand
Defining Your Brand Identity:
Establishing yourself as an authority in any given field requires having a strong brand identity – something that sets you apart from everyone else in the same industry/niche market. To do this effectively, think about developing key messaging points around why people should follow/engage with your work. Focus on highlighting unique experiences, skillsets, perspectives, etc.
Having these clearly defined will make it easier for audiences to identify & remember who you are when scrolling through endless feeds full of similar content.
Creating a Brand Aesthetic:
In addition to defining clear messaging points, it is equally important to create visual elements associated with your brand like logos, color schemes, fonts, etc. These visuals should align with the overall message being communicated and help reinforce why viewers should pay attention. When done correctly, they can go a long way towards making sure followers recognize and remember who you are no matter the platform you're using or the type of post being shared.
Developing a Brand Voice and Messaging:
Alongside aesthetics comes voice — this refers to the tone used when communicating messages via text-based posts, captions, etc. It's essential to determine whether you want to come across as serious, funny, sarcastic, etc. so that all communication feels consistent regardless of the context it's presented under. Additionally, you need to make sure messages convey the desired meaning without coming off too "salesy" — as this will help to find a balance between providing helpful information while still promoting the products or services available to offer.
C. Build a Following:
Strategies for Gaining Followers:
There are a number of different strategies one could use to increase follower count, but some of the most popular include:
leveraging current networks such as friends, family, and colleagues;
being consistent with providing content;
participating in relevant conversations and hashtags;
utilizing paid advertising campaigns;
collaborating with other influencers who already have an established base;
hosting giveaways and competitions to drive engagement levels up;
actively responding to comments left on the page, etc.
All these tactics require a bit of effort, but the end result is worth the extra energy put forth since it ultimately leads to a larger reach and more targeted audience members, potentially higher conversion rates down the line.
D. Engage your Following:
While gaining new followers is a great start, actually keeping them engaged is a much harder task to accomplish — this means not only posting regularly but also interacting with those who are commenting, liking, replying to questions asked, showing appreciation for the efforts made by fans to support their favorite accounts.
Studies show the average user spends roughly two hours a day scrolling through feeds, so getting noticed amongst a sea of faces isn't an easy feat.
How To Keep Followers Engaged:
Keeping existing followers engaged requires a constant stream of fresh, interesting content that's both informative and entertaining at the same time. Think behind-the-scenes looks at upcoming projects, polls, surveys, Q&As, live streams, tutorials, guest interviews, series related to topics, and anything else that could possibly spark a conversation among viewers.
Posting a variety of types of posts and mixing things up keeps users entertained and curious about what's next instead of a monotonous cycle of the same old thing every week, month, or year.
The Business Of Social Media Influencing
A. Monetizing A Following
Depending on the goals set, monetization options vary greatly. Some choose to pursue sponsored partnerships with brands, while others opt for affiliate marketing programs, commission-based sales, private consulting gigs, selling products or services, online course creation, eBooks, webinars, speaking engagements, virtual summits, collaborations, merchandise deals, subscription boxes, just to name a few possibilities available to anyone looking to turn their passion into profit. Let's get into the how in details.
1. Sponsored Posts And Collaborations:
One of the popular ways to begin monetizing an account involves working with brands directly in the form of sponsored partnerships. These involve receiving payment in exchange for featuring a company's product or service in a post, story, or video feed in order to attract attention from customers to purchase the items offered.
2. Affiliate Marketing And Commission-Based Sales:
Another option involves becoming an affiliate of certain companies and earning commissions whenever a sale is made from the referral link provided. This works similarly to traditional brick-and-mortar stores, except that instead of a physical location, the website acts as the storefront, and visitors enter to shop around and click on links embedded on the page to buy products. Influencers receive a portion of the proceeds from each transaction made by the visitors.
B. Managing Your Business
Legal and Financial Considerations:
If you plan to be an influencer, you should see it as a business than a hobby, and legal and financial considerations must be taken into account to protect the assets and liabilities involved, especially in the case of a sole proprietorship setup, which is the most common small businesses operate under. Things like registering trade names, obtaining licenses and permits, setting tax withholding rates, filing taxes properly, and ensuring compliance with laws and regulations applicable to the jurisdiction are all necessary steps to help you avoid fines, penalties, and future problems that may arise due to a lack of preparation and foresight.
Balancing Multiple Partnerships:
Being a successful social media influencer requires juggling multiple relationships simultaneously, managing expectations for each partner, and maintaining a level of professionalism and integrity throughout the entire process.
It's imperative to establish boundaries and let partners know upfront exactly what deliverables are expected in return for staying organized and tracking progress reports in a timely manner. This will show dedication and commitment to the job.
Dealing With Negative Feedback And Criticism:
Unfortunately, a part of the game involves dealing with negative feedback and criticism along with positive praise received. The majority of the time, complaints heard are valid, and constructive criticisms are meant to improve the quality of output. Even though it's hard to hear initially, listening and taking actionable advice is always beneficial in the long run because it allows you to grow and learn to better serve your community.
Industry Trends of Social Media Influencing
The evolution of social media platforms has had a profound impact on how businesses use them for marketing purposes. Platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, and TikTok have emerged as some of the most popular ways for brands to engage with consumers through content creation and curation.
Additionally, these platforms offer unique opportunities for influencer partnerships that can help drive brand awareness and engagement among target audiences.
Emerging trends, such as micro-influencing, are also changing the way brands interact with their customers online. Micro-influencers typically have smaller followings (5,000 to 20,000 followers) than traditional celebrity or macro-influencers but often boast higher levels of engagement due to their niche focus areas or topics they specialize in covering.
This type of influencer is becoming increasingly popular amongst marketers who want to tap into specific niches without having to invest heavily in larger campaigns involving bigger names from mainstream pop culture circles.
The impact of social media on traditional advertising cannot be understated either. Many companies now rely heavily on organic content created by both paid and unpaid influencers instead of relying solely on expensive television spots or print ads, which may not always reach desired audiences effectively anymore, given changes in consumer behavior patterns when it comes to consuming information online versus offline sources like newspapers or magazines.
Finally, there are some predictions regarding future trends within the industry, which suggest that we will see an increase in micro-influencing over time; meaning smaller accounts that specialize in niche markets will become more popular than larger accounts due to traditional celebrity endorsements becoming less effective over time, as consumers are able to recognize "fake" endorsements more easily now than ever before.
We can expect further growth across all sectors too as companies continue investing heavily in this area given its potential return on investment (ROI). Additionally, there has been an increase recently of multi-platform campaigns where multiple types of platforms are used together, such as Instagram stories combined with YouTube video series, which suggests there is still plenty of room for innovation within this field going forward.