When social media boomed in the 2010s and Instagram came into existence; it was one of the first channels in which ‘influencers’ found their footing. You could spot them with their 10,000 plus followers and coveted blue ticks (for verified) on their profiles. By 2013, Instagram had introduced paid advertisements, and it beckoned numerous brands to connect with a budding group of ‘influencers’ to help sell their products to consumers. In return for the collaboration, influencers received handsome paychecks. Other platforms like TikTok and YouTube soon joined the roster. Today, the number of influencers and influencer marketing as a field has grown abundantly. According to the Benchmark Report, from being a $1.7 billion market in 2016, influencer marketing will grow to $16.4 billion in 2022. So, if you want to be a part of this industry, the ultimate question is — how to become an influencer.
What is an Influencer and What Do They Do?
As the name suggests, an influencer is someone who possesses the ability to influence others. Influencers can potentially impact the decisions of their followers when it comes to buying decisions. They are assumed to be experts in their fields or niche areas, which makes them a voice of authority for the same. They create content in their specific genre — like fashion, technology, or parenting — regularly and share it on their social media handles. The key here is setting a regular cadence as ‘followers’ look forward to the content being put out by influencers.
Before influencers took the world by storm, organizations worldwide would approach celebrities to endorse their products. But today, the expansion of social media has led to the growth and development of varied types of influencers — a new brand of celebrity — which includes the following:
This includes people with a following of between 2,000 to 10,000 who are not viral but are very well regarded in their niche. Example: Lostwithpurpose (female backpacker) and MeekatheHusky (parents of a talking husky).
2. Thought Leaders and Experts
In this group, we would have people, like Neil Patel or Jamie Oliver, who are experts in their own fields. Their word carries weight in their respective industries and hence, they add value to brands.
People who are famous in their own right, like Justin Beiber or Rihanna are sometimes roped by brands to promote offerings to their huge follower base.
4. Content Creators
This category of influencers is bloggers, vloggers, live-streamers, and others.
What are the Skills That Influencers Must Have?
Influencers provide expertise in specific genres. But regardless of the genre, they cater to, there are specific skills that influencers must possess. The following skills will help any prospective influencer to create strong foundations and assemble a loyal community of viewers and followers.
1. Be Well-versed With Content Creation
Of course, you cannot become an influencer without being skilled in content creation. The art of creating content deals with intuitively knowing what to post, when, and how.
2. Bring Your Creative Self to Life
People will always be hungry for content that is refreshing and different. Therefore, you must keep your creativity at an all-time high. Your audience will engage with your content only when your ideas are creative.
3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Want to increase the views on your content? Choose Search Engine Optimization or SEO! By designing a well-strategized SEO plan, you can scale your visibility and gain access to a bigger audience.
Quick checklist for your SEO plan:
- Explore keywords
- Optimize your profiles across platforms using search engine scanning
- Use an easy-to-use, intuitive layout
- Post quality and unique content
- Always, resonate with your audience but also be a thought leader
4. Designing for Different Content Formats
It is not enough to create good content, you must also present this content in the best possible way to the audience. Thus, it helps if an aspiring influencer is a pro at Canva or Photoshop or any other such editing tools. You should be able to experiment with videos, photos, text, and other visual elements to serve up interesting content regularly.
5. Become Proficient in the Written Word
Your written content, be it copy for a video or captions for a story, must be impactful to strike a chord with your audience. This is because you represent the product or brand you are promoting. Therefore, good writing skills are crucial to putting the right message across.
How to Become an Influencer?
Now that we have established what an influencer is, what they do, and how this ties in with brands and their business, let us delve into how to become an influencer.
Step 1: Find Your Niche
Your first step to becoming an influencer must be to find where you can add value. We must reiterate that you don’t have to be a tech influencer just because you have an engineering degree! In fact, you can do makeup tutorials or create content around social issues. Most often, influencers choose to create content about a niche where their passions lie. However, it’s not enough to be passionate, you must have the knowledge or skills to support your passion. Otherwise, you will run out of quality content.
Step 2: Choose Your Social Media Platform
The next step is to choose the platform for posting all your content. You can have profiles on multiple platforms, but it is advisable to select a primary one. Choosing your primary platform can also depend on your niche. For example, if you specialize in programming, you can opt for YouTube. Or, if you specialize in fashion, you can choose Instagram which is a more visual medium.
Step 3: Learn About Your Audience and Stay Up-to-Date
You need to post top-quality, relevant content. You could try creating topical content. Be on the lookout for current events and trends within your industry and outside. But, it is crucial to understand what your audience wants. If you don’t, they might start losing interest. To do this, you should use analytics tools to understand what your audience engages with most. Then, you can create content accordingly.
Step 4: Engage With Your Followers and Pay Attention to Your Critics
Just as learning about your followers is necessary, so is engaging with them. In doing so, you will not only remain on their radar but also keep them wanting more. Engaging with them has two perks: first, it tells you what they want to see more. Second, it makes them feel important and adds a personal touch and sincerity to your brand.
It is also essential to know that while engaging with your audience, you may receive negative comments or feedback about your content. And that’s okay! Just be prepared for and learn from any criticism you receive.
Step 5: Establish a Content Strategy and Be Authentic
To grow as an influencer, you should practice planning the content you will be creating and sharing with your audience. Create a sound strategy. Part of it should be planning out content that reflects your niche because you want to keep your audience engaged at the end of the day. Aside from this, you must genuinely believe in the content you post or the product you endorse. Authenticity invites interest. And interest keeps your brand thriving.
Step 6. Be Consistent
You must have heard the phrase, “Out of sight, out of mind.” Therefore, being consistent is of utmost importance. The more consistently you post, the more you’ll remain unforgettable. In fact, it will also help you increase your following. You can choose from various scheduling tools like Hootsuite or Planoly to ensure your posts regularly reach your audience at the right time.
Benefits of Taking an Online Influencer Course
With the advent of branding campaigns involving influencers, the business of influencer marketing has become a serious one. It has more structure and a definitive growth trajectory. E-learning platforms offer certified courses to allow you to grow as an influencer. Taking up such courses, a mixed bag of free and paid can benefit your journey as an influencer. Learn more about taking an online influencer marketing course today.
Is Being an Influencer a Good Career Option?
According to an IZEA Worldwide survey, 56% of social media consumers bought products based on an influencer’s paid or sponsored post. In addition, 63% of respondents said that they found content curated by creators more riveting than brand advertisements. Considering influencers’ impact on brands and followers, Statista foresees that the spending on influencer cooperation will only go up. With the popularity of social media increasing by the day, it also seems that the popularity of influencers will continue to grow.
Being an influencer is an actual career path in the digital world. In fact, with the advent of the metaverse, influencer marketing will change the grammar of advertising in the years to come. Hence, if you want to know how to become an influencer and make a living in ‘influencing’, you must understand the language of marketing. Explore the best digital marketing courses at Emeritus with the world’s most renowned universities.
By Annabel George
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