This article was last updated on August 22, 2017
What is an influencer? How can you become one if you are just starting out? Well, if you are asking yourself any of those questions you are in the right place because this post will go right down your alley. An influencer is either a person or a brand, who has built a community based on their passion or expertise, and can possibly affect their community’s purchasing decisions based on what they like, what they are using or promoting.
Before the social media platforms blew up, celebrities were pretty much the only influencers out there. But nowadays anyone with camera and an Internet connection can become popular online and make his or hers way up to the top. At this point you might think – hey, I have a camera, I have a Facebook account. How come I’m not famous online? Well, there’s a little bit more to it than just that. So how can you become an influencer?
Step #1 Create outstanding content
Well, dough! Of course, creating content is important, but how do you get that huge community? First and foremost you need to love what you do. Otherwise you will simply not be able to put in all the effort, or if you do, you will not be able to be consistent with it every single day in the long run. This is one of the biggest lessons learned in life so far by yours truly. I just wish I would have known that earlier on.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you love editing video (I happen to love it, so it’s the perfect example for me), and you want to help others get into video editing as well by sharing your tips, tutorials or your secret type of visual effects that you’ve been using on your last video that went viral. Or, maybe you like video editing but you are just starting out and you don’t actually have the skills you would like to have or the portfolio to showcase your work. No problem! Start off from scratch.
Start learning everything and document all of that. Show what new technique or trick you’ve learned today, share how you got your first client, share how much money you are making by offering your video editing services. Document everything and share it on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook or any other social media platforms that you might be using.
This is just an example, but you can apply the same exact principle to fitness, entrepreneurship, beauty and so on and so forth. Just pick your niche and start creating content. If possible try to pick a niche which is relatively narrow. This will help you target your audience better and it will also allow you to grow your brand easier.
Step #2 Choosing the right social media platforms
A smart question to ask yourself which of the social media platforms should I focus on? This is a pretty difficult question to answer because it will depend on what type of content you are putting out and what are you hoping to achieve through it as an influencer. Obviously, I would always recommend YouTube, not necessarily because I am into video editing, but because YouTube actually works as a giant search engine and your videos can pop up to new viewers all the time.
On top of that, studies have shown that almost 74% of all Internet traffic these days is video traffic, and users in general are consuming more and more video type of content. I guess it’s just easier or more fun to watch a video rather than reading a post. So, definitely consider leveraging YouTube no matter what niche you are in. Get a camera or use a smartphone if you don’t have a camera, don’t worry too much about video quality, lighting or post-production so much in the beginning. Just focus on getting your content out there.
Once you get started, learn your audience as well as the platform you are focusing on.
Instagram and Facebook are also awesome platforms you can leverage by creating specific type of content. Instagram works great if you are sharing a lot of photos or if your content is mainly based on pictures, but you can also upload short clips of up to 60 seconds. Facebook works great for text based content, but it can be very effective if you are posting photos as well. Just try to figure out where your target audience hangs out more and focus on being there.
Don’t expect something big to happen overnight. Your audience will probably grow at a really slow pace in the first months, even if you are putting out a ton of content. Just be consistent with it and when you have a decent following, an active community which likes and shares your content, you are ready to move onto the next step.
Step #3 Develop a marketing strategy
Alright, so in step 1 and 2 all you did was to identify something your love, study what you love, become an expert at it, create content about it, post on social media and hopefully you got a few thousands subscribers or followers. Next, we are going to look at what you can do to grow that audience into something much bigger, that can build your brand and make you a social media influencer. You need to know one thing though– you can’t do it all by yourself. No matter how much content you are putting out, no matter how good your content is, you are going to need other people’s help.
One of the most popular ways of getting your name out there is to reach out to other people or accounts in your niche and ask them to do a collab or maybe ask them to feature one of your posts. Don’t go for the big brands or influencers right from the start. Find the ones that have audience similar to yours and start doing videos together, or interviews or share each other’s content. The cool way about this method is that you can apply it right away without needing a budget for it. All you need is a decent following so that the other guy or gal you are partnering up with can see a benefit in working with you.
Another thing you can try out is to reach out to accounts or brands which are significantly bigger than you and ask them to feature some of your content. Most likely they will charge a sponsored content fee for doing that, so you will need to have a budget set for this. If you don’t have a budget for this though, what you can do is offer some free content in return. You can help them out by developing content that you already know how to create and if you are really good at creating that content they will probably not going to say no to you. There are tons of brands, generic accounts or influencers that you can reach out too. Just do your research and make sure their audience is right for you. Otherwise you will just be wasting your time.
If you do have a budget, you can really take it to the next level and pay pretty much any larger account to feature your content. They may put you up on their channel for limited period of time. That could be like a short preview of your content in which you tell viewers that they can get free access to even more awesome content if they follow you. That’s how you increase your awareness. Taking it one step further, you can use your budget to setup a Facebook Ads campaign or even a Google AdWords campaign. Facebook is still relatively cheap compared with Google or YouTube, so I would suggest starting there.
The cool thing about these campaigns is that they can be super targeted specifically to your audience and you also get access to detailed reports which will tell you exactly what works and what doesn’t. Facebook has a lot of predefined campaigns you can start with which are very self explanatory. Trial and error will probably be the best approach – see what works and keep doing that.
Step #4 Be different
Lastly but not least you want to stand out from the crowd. An influencer has to do that. You don’t want to blend in! You want to show off your personality in an unique way, be bold, but also be yourself no matter what others think about you. Believe in yourself and never stop working towards achieving your goals.
Don’t be afraid to express you opinions when they might be totally different than what everybody is saying about a certain thing. Your audience will appreciate honesty and originality. But also be prepared to handle negativity. You will probably have a handful of haters that will talk trash about you and leave negative comments. That’s like a byproduct of becoming an influencer. Develop a thick skin and keep on doing whatever you are doing.
Over to you
With that being said I challenge you to share with us below what your niche or specialty is, which social media platforms are you focusing on in 2017 and what is your marketing development strategy for this year.