Do you know what an influencer is? You could describe it as someone who uses social media to influence the purchasing decisions of other people. An influencer has a high profile online and they have a relationship with their online audience. Successful influencers are paid by companies to promote goods and services. An influencer regularly engages with their online following. They have ‘invested’ social media relationships and sometimes millions of followers.
How powerful is social media?
Around 3.028 billion people around the world use social media. That is about 40 per cent of the world’s population. The most popular social media is Facebook. 2.41 billion people log onto Facebook monthly. 1.59 billion log on daily. The next most popular is YouTube with 1.9 billion users. Instagram is also growing in popularity with 1 billion users and Twitter is getting bigger with 126 million users. Reddit has 330 million users and Pinterest has 200 million. Linkedin also has more than 100 million. The other biggies are Qzone, Weibo, Ask.fm and Tumblr.
How do companies use influencers?
Companies know how powerful influencers are and so will reach out to an appropriate influencer when launching a new product, opening a restaurant, or holding a big sale. Before contracting an influencer to promote their product, companies will look at the engagement between an influencer and their community. How many likes, comments or videos do they get? How often does the influencer post? Does the online community ‘like’ or comment favourably on their posts? Is their following growing? How many other companies do they promote and is the company’s brand a good fit with their image? What is their cost per post?
How do you become an influencer?
- First you need to identify the area you want to be an influencer in? What are your passions? What do you love talking about? You need to be genuinely interested in the area you want to promote or where you want to have influence
- You are going to need an ‘edge’, something that differentiates you from other influencers. There are already a lot of people in social media writing about food, lifestyle, travel, pets. How can you be different from the rest?
- You are not going to be successful on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest and Linkedin. Pick two to start with. Which have most content on your area of interest?
- Create a social media strategy. Plan out your content – what you will post and when. Will you produce videos, photos, text, cartoons? Blogging is still a good way to go. The more content you put out online, the more likely you are to gain a bigger social media following. Four out of five influencers now produce videos. When it comes to following someone online, people like to get to know you and video really helps you do that. Facebook also promotes websites with video.
- Create brilliant, mind-blowing, irresistible content no one can ignore. (Easier said than done!)
- Be regular and consistent. Influencers are always online. They don’t disappear for a month then put up 20 posts in a day. They keep churning out content – you need to be committed.
- Find out what your audience really wants. What do they like on your site? What do they comment on? What do they want more of?
- Look at the data. Most social media sites give you data. What are people looking at on your site? Use analytics software. Analytics show you the statistics about who is looking at your different social media accounts. Receiving these helps you decide when you should be posting, which posts get the most shares, and what kinds of posts attract the most positive response from your audience. A great Instagram tool is Squarelovin. It allows you to dissect your Instagram account showing you what's working and what isn’t.
- Promote your social media sites. Do not spend all your time creating content and no time promoting it. Basically spend 20 per cent of your time creating content and 80 per cent promoting it. Have you told everyone you know about your website?
- Collaborate. The easiest way to attract an audience is by hitching a ride on the site of a big influencer. Attract a social media following by connecting with influencers you admire. By commenting on their posts, sharing their tweets, and engaging them in conversations online, you are bound to get more visits to your sites. You need to network with the right people online. Pick about four influencers and engage with their content. Write comments and ask them questions and share their content.
- Once you have a following, use software to repurpose content across different social media sites. People with hundreds of thousands of followers didn’t get their following by spending hours after hours on different platforms. Instead, they’ve found software to help them re-use their content quickly and easily across their social media accounts sites. Try IFTTT. It connects social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin together. You will be able to get content onto all your sites quickly.
If you are not that into social media, this might all sound really scary. Remember you can also pay to get someone to help you with your social media if you are determined to be an influencer.
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