You’re in good shape, have a keen fashion sense, and hashtag your posts like pound signs are going out of style. So why aren’t brands chopping at the bit to see selfies of you in their clothes?
Well first, there are billions of people using social media every day, and only a select few possess what it takes to genuinely influence a following. Maybe you do, but you just haven’t been noticed yet. Or, maybe you’re on the cusp, ready to break big.
Either way, between active audience engagement and creating exceptional content, becoming a professional content creator is demanding—and you’ve got to be ready for it, if you really want it (we know you do). So, if you’re serious about becoming an influencer, study this piece to learn what it takes to build a robust digital presence.
1. Be You-nique
Professional influencers don’t gain an avid following because they’re posting the same old $h|t as everybody else. Even your mom is taking a gym pic, making a story about Sunday’s brunch, and inappropriately tagging brands that are getting slammed with notifications.
This may get you some temporary engagement, but you don’t want to be a proverbial flash in the proverbial pan—you want to be the goddamn bonfire. To ignite your influence, start by considering what makes you, you. Until you discover what differentiates your persona from the pack of dudes stampeding into the influencer space, curating a strong digital presence is going to be a Sisyphean task.
2. Be Authentic
If you take one idea away from this piece, it’s this: you need to be authentic to gain (and retain) a following, and you need a following to become an influencer. Henceforth, anything you post that isn’t genuinely you is merely a waste of time.
This idea will become particularly important as you receive inquiries to promote brands. Professionals only represent products they believe in. While it’s hard to turn away… shall we say “business,” it also sends a message to brands that their products have to be killer in order to earn your endorsement.
When it comes to remaining authentic, it helps to work with an influencer marketing agency that doesn’t force their content creators to post. What the premium firms do is have you fill out a customer feedback survey rather than posting about the products you’re not sold on.
This option also keeps your following happy. As soon as you start posting about lousy products and services, your audience isn’t going to see you as an industry leader, they’re going to see you as an industry loser.
3. Don’t Buy Your Friends
Coming off the heels of the last section, you should know by now that effective social media marketing is about authentic, digital storytelling. But you know who appreciates a good story? Real people, not bots.
Not only are brands looking for influencers with a legitimate following, but Instagram is cracking down on inauthentic content by removing follow bots, fake likes, and bogus comments. Furthermore, when it comes to your audience, focus on quality rather than quantity. Reason being, when brands and agencies start searching for influencers, they’re often times seeking out “micro-influencers.”
By and large, this title is given to content creators with less than 100,000 followers. Brands look for these “smaller” influencers because they know engagement rates will be significantly higher than that of Insta-celebrities. So remember: It’s not always the size of your account that matters; it’s what you do with it.
4. Master Your Platform, Find Your Niche
You’ve got to decide: Are you a Jack or a Master? Because, and pardon the cliche, but in the case of influencer marketing, the Jack of All Trades is a Master of None. Henceforth, you need to know your social media platform and all of its nuances as well as your strong suit. While brands do love cross-promotion, they also want someone who has mastered his or her platform of choice.
For instance, if you’re using Instagram and you’re still puzzled by how to post a “Story” or upload a video to IGTV, you should hit pause and do your homework. Likewise, if you’re using Twitter and you’re getting tangled up in a thread, unravel yourself before you start any brand/agency outreach.
While it’s a rudimentary skill, it’s vital that you know how to use hashtags and mentions appropriately. Using these tools will amplify your message and encourage other people to join the conversation, which then increases your reach further. A cursory understanding of search engine optimization (SEO) doesn’t hurt either, especially if you have a blog.
If SEO sounds out of left field, it’s not. Backlinks (outbound hyperlinks) to a brand’s website or social channels boosts their search authority and ranking. And, if you’re unaware, Google has every business striving to plaster their names on page one.
Finally, in the case of what you post about, it’s critical to know that you don’t have to pigeonhole yourself, but you also don’t want to shotgun content in every direction. Maybe you’re into technology and finance, or fashion and fitness—a dynamic set of subject matter is helpful. But contextually, a foodie giving insights into the latest space exploration causes some cognitive dissonance. Think: Peas and carrots; not peas and planets.
5. Know The Rules
The best influencers are always clear about their relationship with brands. Not only is honesty always the best policy, but the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is also starting to look at influencer marketing under a microscope. More specifically, the FTC requires that product endorsements both reflect honest opinions and disclose the tie between content creator and brand.
If you’re concerned about how your followers will perceive this info, don’t be. If you’re only posting—and have only ever posted—about badass products that you genuinely like, it’s probably not going to make much of a difference in your credibility.
6. Take Direction, But Maintain Control
If you’re working with brands and agencies, chances are you’re going to have to take some direction from a campaign manager. But honestly, their support generally ends up helping… a lot. They’re there to provide creative guidance, suggest topics, and explore themes that can be vital if you hit a bout of writer’s block. Campaign managers will sometimes give you a couple helpful tips and tricks for improving your engagement rating as well.
That being said, it’s vital that you retain creative control. Yes, you’ll need to hit due dates, follow timelines, and post an obligated number of times, but when it comes down to crafting the content, that’s all your territory.
That’s why working with a micro-influencer marketing agency, as opposed to working directly with the brands, can be so pivotal to becoming a successful influencer. These firms know how crucial authenticity is. For that reason, they’ll brief brands on the importance of original content.
If you’re looking for the secret sauce, it’s high-quality, authentic, original content. Live a lifestyle that people find interesting and is genuine, and you’ll catch people’s attention. Don’t “sell out” for products you don’t dig, and hold your ground when it comes to creative control. We wish you all the best on your influencer endeavors. Post away.