In our current society, platforms such as YouTube, Tiktok, and Instagram have become more than social forums to post pictures or create reels and videos. Throughout quarantine, they have kept us laughing and entertained. They brought the world together and cured our lockdown blues. They have also become a source of income for the many people who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic.
I like to say, behind every successful brand and platform, stands a person. Behind Dior, there is Christian Dior. Behind Versace, there is Gianni Versace, and behind every social media platform, there are content creators and influencers who play a significant role in today's world. An influencer is someone who has engineered themselves an internet name by doing and sharing awe-inspiring things online. To their audiences, influencers are tastemakers, trendsetters, and sure consultants whose opinions are regarded as seriously as an acknowledgment from Queen B. Well-known influencers include Chiara Ferragni, Kim Kardashian West, Kylie Jenner, and Huda Kattan.
With technology advancing so quickly and social media expanding rapidly, everyone can't help but want a piece of the pie, especially Gen Z. Many young teens want to get into social influencing, whether it's becoming a Youtuber or an Insta-star, but don't know where to begin! Look no further! In this article, I explore how to become an influencer and so much more.
How do I become an influencer?
1. Select Your Niche
Decide on a distinct segment that you can consistently produce content about. When making this decision, choose a niche that involves your interests and passions. If you have some experience within that specific field, you will be able to establish yourself as an influencer more easily. Skincare, Health and Fitness, Luxury, Travelling, and Animals are a few niches often used by influencers. Although if you have a segment idea that isn't quite common in the influencer sector, run with it. Also, keep in mind the social platform where you're releasing content. If you're going to be a content creator or an influencer on YouTube, you have to remember that your audience prefers video over text, so your content should suit their preferences.
2. Understanding Your Audience
Before you begin making content and posting on social media, you have to know your target audience. What do they respond well to, their preferences, likes, and dislikes? Influencers have an omnipotent trait over their audiences and form bonds with them. This is because influencers don't cater to everyone, but solely to those with similar interests within the same niche. If you want your content to be well-received by your target audience, you must first gain a thorough understanding of your fan base. Ask yourself questions such as:
- How old are they?
- What gender are they?
- Where do they live, work, and socialize? What do they do in their spare time?
- What does their family situation look like (are they single, married, have children)?
- What other brands do they like and shop with?
- What digital platforms are they on/where do they spend their time online?
- What do they care most about?
3. Choosing a platform
As an influencer, you must have a potent online presence. However, this does not imply that you should use all social media platforms available and distribution channels. Certain platforms may be better suited for your content than others, depending on your niche. If your content is more visual, you might consider a platform like Instagram. Your target audience also plays a part in this decision-making process. You might find that your target audience's most used social platform is YouTube, which leads to you producing more content on that particular platform.
Canadian Youtuber and comedian Lily Singh says she aims her videos at all audiences. Therefore, she uses YouTube, a platform used by over 2 billion people globally, as her primary medium. This ensures her videos reach everyone everywhere.
4. Create An Engaging Bio
One of the first things someone sees when they visit your profile is your bio. Therefore, your bio should be eye-catching and keep them engaged. An influencer's social media bio should be distinct from a "normal" one. Their bio should be enticing and original for them to rise to the top of the channel's algorithm and gain the love of their fans. Think of your bio as an advertisement. It advertises you as an influencer, your brand, and your story. So your bio ought to tell your story fascinatingly and should include:
A)Your name and contact details : If a brand marketer were to tap on your profile, they would need to know your full name and surname and how to get in touch with you. Think about including your or your manager's email address and phone number.
B) Profile photo: You must have an excellent profile and cover photo that accurately represents you and your work. Guess who gets to decide what "excellent" means? You! Because it is YOU and FOR YOU! So if you wanna go all out and even have a photoshoot, go ahead! Remember that your profile photo is your first calling card for new and potential followers. Make sure it conveys the aesthetic of your posts and stories and communicates what you do.
C) Hashtags: It is advisable (especially at the start of your influencer career path) to include your highly distinctive hashtag (eg #DearTumi) and 1-2 not-too-general hashtags* that you want to use on all of your posts. The hashtags should be relevant to your work. Conduct research to determine the best hashtags for you.
The reason for hashtags is to create a framework for discoverability and searchability. As a result, if you follow that structure, your target audience will find your social media bio more quickly. It also enables you to promote your brand and categorize your content.
D) Keywords: Incorporate a few natural keywords into your bio. Why? Structured language is searchable and discoverable, and you want people interested in what you generate - that's social media SEO (together with hashtags)! For example, if you sell gym equipment, you would use words like 'health' and 'fitness' instead of 25kg weights.
E) CTA (Call-to-action): Encourage whoever is viewing your bio to take action. So include things like: Dm me for consultation or Email me for paid promotions.
Example on Instagram:
5. Create Your Social Media Strategy
This is a strategy of what you plan to do or achieve with your social media accounts. Put together a detailed plan, so you'll be able to focus on the task at hand. Have a schedule for all the posts you'll share. This will help you to visualize if your posts are well spread out and see if you are posting at the optimum times for your followers. Certain times throughout the day will boost post engagement.
Instagram optimum times:
Tiktok Optimum Times:
YouTube Optimum Times:
Mondays: 2-4 pm.
Tuesdays: 2-4 pm.
Wednesdays: 2-4 pm.
Thursdays at noon: 3 pm.
Fridays at noon: 3 pm.
Saturdays: 9 am-11 am.
Sundays: 9 am-11 am.
6. Scope Out The Competition
Find out the type of content other users in your niche are producing. This will help you create your social media strategy, help you identify what content the audience of that particular region responds well to and what they disagree or don't engage with. The competitive analysis also enables you to find out where other influencers are lacking, which leads to you releasing unique content. In this way, you can also see whether there is a threat to your brand.
7. Enhance your social media presence
Pick your most popular social media platform and optimize your profile. Most influencers are popular on 1 or 2 platforms. So it's best to focus solely on 1-2 channels. Once you have hand-picked your channel, create new profiles or optimize the ones you already have. Identifying your goals and objectives is one of the ways to enhance your social media presence. This ensures that you reach your audiences and know how the platform works. Interact with your followers as often as possible and respond to comments and posts from them. This shows them that you care and pay attention to them.
8. Consistency Is Key
One of the most efficient strategies to keep your audience's attention is to publish high-quality content frequently. When you consistently produce high-quality material, your audience develops a sense of anticipation.
This, in turn, increases audience engagement and your reach. I recommend that you construct a timeline for all of the content you intend to publish in the following months. To keep your audience interested, you can also establish a weekly or monthly series. Let's use Ms. Aileen Xu as an example.
She is a content creator and entrepreneur in personal growth and lifestyle design, inspiring people to embrace their true potential and create their dream life. Her YouTube channel, Lavendaire, has 1.3M+ subscribers. She has a series where she does monthly reviews and plans for the following month. One thing Aileen's viewers can count on is her consistency. She always posts on time which is why her viewers love her.
9. Collaborate With Other Influencers
When you're just starting and wondering how to become an influencer, collaborating with someone famous in your area can be beneficial. It allows you to gain access to their fan base and lure them to your social media pages.
To entice the other social media influencers to collaborate with you, you must provide them with something of value. If you can't reach more famous influencers, consider partnering with micro-influencers that have small but highly engaged fan audiences.
In South Africa, some YouTubers shoot with each other often, which leads to more views. An example would be the collaborations between Just Daddy G, Ghost Hlubi, King Oumar, and Zillewizzy. When it comes to this group of four, you can always expect vibe, authenticity, and ENERGY!
10. Be Original
Some people may interpret or see social platforms (for example, Tiktok or Instagram) as a way to document their life. Many may portray a fake lifestyle. A considerable number of users want us to see the best parts of them and their life. They only show us their aesthetic mornings, their flat stomachs and tiny waists, and their most productive days. Only a minor percentile of influencers show us the real them, their bloated tummies after a meal, or the days where they struggle to get out of bed in the morning.
People would rather see the real you, not the one you think people want to see. Being original and authentic makes you stand out and seem refreshing. If you conform to the norm and trending things on your platform, what makes you different from any other influencer? Why should someone follow you or watch your videos if they are just a copy of someone else's? Being original shows your audience the real you. SO BE AUTHENTIC. BE YOU!
Perks of being an influencer
1) The Income: There are many income streams for an influencer, from brand partnerships to sponsored merchandise. Right now, brands are focused on nano and micro-influencers. So you can have as little as 5K followers/subscribers and still get brand sponsorships.
2) Avoid Physical Labor: Another advantage of being an influencer is avoiding physical labor. Sometimes, you will only discuss trending topics or current events and won't have to do any heavy physical work. This helps to prevent the long-term health concerns that accompany hard labor.
3) A Flexible Schedule: As an influencer, you will also have the pleasure of structuring your day exactly how you want it. You won't have any set appointments most of the time. Instead, you will be the one who decides whether or not to work. It will also be up to you how frequently you choose to publish and when you wish to take a vacation. Compared to the average working person, an influencer has more free time. Of course, this changes according to fame levels.
4) Fame/Clout: Another perk of being an influencer is clout. The instant recognition that flashes in people's eyes when you walk into a shop, having people that worship the ground you walk on and having connections are just a few clout benefits of being an influencer. When you're an influencer, you suddenly become this role model. Imagine being on someone's vision board because you inspire them with your content?
5) Build A Community: Influencing doesn't only rake in a lot of money, but it establishes a true community around your brand in the long run. People will like your posts and follow you on all social media networks if you create good material. Your community will also support you during difficult times in your life, which might help you overcome those dark times. It can also feel nice to see how many people like your content, which can do wonders for boosting your confidence.
Disadvantages of being an influencer
1) No Job Guarantee: Influencing is very risky and has no job security at all. Your career can be over in the blink of an eye. Your content might become boring to your audience, and they might decide to unfollow, which is then the end of your influencer journey.
2) A Few Mistakes Can Ruin Your Career: Influencers are public figures, and their words carry a lot of power. Saying or doing the wrong thing can land you in hot water. For instance, if you say something stupid that has a political character on your Instagram Live, and it starts trending, many brands will distance themselves from you and no longer work with you.
3) Nasty Comments: The comment section of any post can be very polite and encouraging or hateful and nasty. As Gen Z, we are an uplifting community, but when we dislike something, we voice our distaste quite loudly. Gen Z can get quite brutal, and so, as a content creator, you must deal with hate comments in an emotionally healthy manner.
4) Account May Get Banned: On platforms such as Tiktok, when you break community guidelines ( they're broken quite often), your accounts get banned or closed down. While this may not be a big deal for private individuals, it will be for you because you will no longer be able to monetize your audience on your respective social media accounts. Your videos no longer reach as many people because you don't pop up on the For You Page as often as you once did.
5) Hard To Find A New Job: You will always be in the spotlight as a well-known influencer. While this is fantastic when you're starting, it might become an issue if you decide to pursue another career route. Many companies will not hire you if you state very contentious themes in public or have been canceled. They will view you as a liability and a risk to their brand. Their consumers may no longer even buy their products as you are associated with the company.
As volatile content creating might be, it's a fun way, to creatively express your voice and opinions. It allows you to build a global community and inspire others. I've provided you with the tools, now it's up to you what you do with them. Are you going to inspire and educate the world? Or are you going to pretend you never came across this article?