Becoming an influencer seems to have become one of the primary goals of quite a handful of digital natives and even digital immigrants. The rise of social media personalities and the mainstream success they have attained, as well as the transition of established celebrities and public personalities to social media platforms, have proven this point.
The job of social media influencers is considerably straightforward: promote the brand or cause they are representing using their social media platforms. The income potential is also promising because of the recognized and demonstrated positive impact of influencer marketing. But how exactly does an unassuming social media user become an influencer?
Essential Strategies to Become an Influencer
1. Choose a Niche Where You Can Exert Subject-Matter Expertise
Successful social media influencers are experts in a particular topic, subject, or field. People listen to them become they are well-versed and have a high degree of familiarity in their chosen niche. They use their platforms to demonstrate their expertise.
Hence, the first step to becoming an influencer is to pick a niche. However, you need to choose one that you are interested in because. It is important that align your passion with your chosen niche because you will be spending time researching and creating relevant content.
Examples of niche include beauty and skincare, consumer electronics technology, home design, general health and wellness, specific fitness and nutrition, parenting, general social and political affairs, specific environmental advocacies, and law and civic rights, among others.
2. Know and Define Your Intended Audience Based on Relevant Factors
Once you have chosen the niche where you can demonstrate your expertise, you have to know and define the characteristics of your target audience. Doing so entails writing down and analyzing their demographics and psychographics.
Demographics pertain to age, sex and gender, education, occupation or profession, nationality, ethnicity, and religion, among others. Psychographics include interests, hobbies, values, attitudes, opinions, emotional triggers, and lifestyle choices.
It is important to have a clearer picture of the kind of audience you want to reach because it will define what social media or other online platforms you need to use, the tone you need to set in your content, and the types of content you need to publish.
3. Select the Most Suitable Social Media Platform for Your Target Audience
There are a handful of social media platforms that are readily accessible to anyone. Facebook remains the most popular followed by YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and Snapchat. A number of individuals have an online presence on at least two platforms.
You may create accounts and profiles on all available platforms to ensure maximum reach. However, if you are beginning your journey to becoming an online personality, it is important to choose one to two main platforms where your identified audience dwells.
The choice of your platform will determine not only your potential audience reach but also the type of content you will be creating. For example, if you chose YouTube because that is where your audience dwells, then you have to be ready to create video contents.
Each platform has its characteristics, as well as pros and cons. As mentioned, YouTube is a long-form video-sharing platform while TikTok is a platform for sharing short-form videos. Instagram is an image-sharing and video-sharing platform.
4. Optimizing Your Profiles on Your Chosen Social Media Platforms
Nevertheless, once you have selected which platforms to use, you have to optimize your profiles by choosing the appropriate profile picture, engaging description or biography, addition of relevant information, and switching to business accounts.
It is also important to ensure synergy across your chosen platforms to avoid confusing your audience. Doing so means that you must use the same profile picture, descriptions, and other personal branding elements across all of your profiles.
Each social media platform should also contain links directing your audience to your other platforms. Other tips to optimize your platform include learning how to use built-in audience analytics tools and other content-creation tools.
5. Creating Relevant Contents and Publishing Them Constantly
You must embrace being a content creator if you want to become an influencer. Content is still the king in social media. It serves as a medium to convey your message to your audience, raise awareness, disseminate information, instill inspiration, or provide entertainment.
The content creation process depends on creativity, the ability to know what is relevant to your niche and your audience, the need to be updated about trends and other pop cultural phenomena, and hard skills in using creativity applications.
Remember that the goal of your content is to reach and appeal to your audience. Of course, aside from the needed creativity and hard skills, you also need to familiarize yourself with the content distribution algorithm behind your chosen social media platform.
Publishing at a particular time of a given day might yield fewer reach compared to other time slots. It is for this reason that it is important to do A/B testing, understand how the algorithm works, and create and maintain a content calendar.
6. Personal Branding by Knowing What Tone to Use and Image to Project
Social media influencers are brands themselves. Note that personal branding is the conscious and intentional effort to create and influence public perception of an individual to uphold differentiation from the rest and establish a degree of authority.
Part of selecting your niche, knowing your audience, and choosing which platforms to use is the need to create your personal brand. This requires answering the following questions: What tone should you set in your contents? What image do you want to project?
The tone of your content can be formal or informal. You might want to sound technical or humorous. You can be entertaining. You can be all of these. But you must ensure that your tone is suitable for your niche and relatable to your audience.
7. Increase the Number of Your Followers and Engagement Level
One of the fundamental criteria digital marketers use when it comes to selecting the right influencers for their brands or marketing campaigns is the number of followers prospective social media celebrities have on their platforms.
You must increase your number of followers to both ensure maximum audience reach and build your credibility to attract digital marketers. However, this is not an easy task. Some tips include publishing audience-relevant contents, paid promotion, and non-paid marketing.
Remember that you are a personal brand. You must use relevant principles and practices in marketing not only to reach your identified audience but make people follow you. But the number of followers does not tell the entire picture.
Digital marketers also use the level of engagement one has on his or her platforms. There are instances when there is a disparity between the number of followers of a particular social media user and the level of engagement he or she receives from his or her content.
Nevertheless, to increase engagement, it is important to create and share content relevant to your target audience, take advantage of moment marketing, speak the language of your audience, and create a relationship with them through consistent interactions.
8. Get Inspiration from Other Influencers But Remain Unique and Authentic
Other social media influencers can also inspire you to determine what content to create and share, what tone to use, how to project your image toward a defined target audience, and how to maintain and increase further the level of engagement in your platforms.
You can start by observing prominent online personalities within your similar niche. However, it is also a good idea to look for other influencers in different niches. This can broaden your perspective and expose you to different ideas from different individuals.
However, avoid imitation. You can synthesize the ideas you got from observing other influencers but make sure that your unique selling proposition as a personal brand remains intact and demonstrable
9. Let Brands or Marketers Know that You Are Open For Collaborations
Of course, you need to tell brands or marketers that you are open for business. Your goal as an influencer is to provide businesses, non-profit organizations, or individuals with a solution to their marketing communication problems or goals and objectives.
You can do this by writing in your profile description or biography that you are open for collaborations. Make sure to include all of your social media platforms in this description, as well as your most preferred channel for communication.
Another way of attracting brands or marketers is through prospecting and approaching. Do not be afraid to send a message to these individuals or organizations. However, make sure that you also provide a relevant pitch on what you can offer.
10. Invest in Relevant Tools of the Trade and Development Opportunities
When you decide to become an influencer, you must also accept the fact that what you do is not just a hobby but also an income-earning endeavor. Of course, you can also consider being an influencer as an advocacy, especially if you intend to promote social causes.
Regardless of your intention, it is important to invest in relevant tools that can help you improve your online presence and attract further your intended audience. These include purchasing decent smartphones or equipment for content creation such as a dedicated digital camera.
You must also build expertise in using creativity applications, as well as in analyzing audience analytics. Note that there are online and face-to-face short courses on photography, content writing, photo and video editing, videography, and public speaking, among others.