Can You (Realistically) Become a Social Media Influencer?
Statistically speaking, at least a quarter of you reading this want to become a social media influencer. And with so many different types and levels of social media influencing out there, chances are pretty good you can at least try it. If it doesn’t work out, oh well. But if you’re willing to do the work and put in the time, you may find yourself with a successful (and lucrative) entrepreneurial career!
THE RISE OF INFLUENCERS
Social media is only the latest incarnation of influencer culture. As far back as Ancient Rome, influencers existed. Though they weren’t called “influencers” at the time, some gladiators were paid to endorse products. In 1760, a company called Wedgwood created a tea set especially for Queen Charlotte of England. For their work, she bestowed upon them the first-ever title of “Potter to Her Majesty.”
By the mid-20th century, celebrities would endorse products on TV and in print ads. Athletes, actors, and other famous personalities began signing multi-million dollar deals with companies. Basketball great Michael Jordan worked with Nike in the 1990s. In 2013, Taylor Swift signed a deal with Coca-Cola. And Brie Larson encourages you to drive Nissans.
WHY COMPANIES NEED INFLUENCERS
Marketing is an essential piece of any young entrepreneur’s life. If you want to sell your product, you need to make it look appealing, right? There are several important reasons why companies rely on influencers:
- It helps them connect with their target audience. Celebrities have a built-in following, which translates to automatic eyeballs on the product.
- It gives the brand authenticity
- It makes the company look good to be associated with someone of high social status
- Audiences are more likely to remember a brand that’s endorsed by a celebrity they like
- It helps the brand stand out amongst competitors
INFLUENCERS ARE THE NEW CELEBRITIES
For a long time, companies relied on established celebrities to promote their brand. But social media has changed all that. Now, anyone with a certain number of followers can become an influencer. And influencers are becoming celebrities.
This isn’t to say that established celebs don’t become influencers. Manchester United star Christiano Ronaldo would still be a world-famous footballer even if he didn’t endorse TAG Heuer.
However, social media has made it possible for everyday people to rise to the level of global icon simply by acquiring enough followers. Look at Charli D’Amelio. She started by posting dance videos on TikTok and quickly became one of the top influencers in the world.
HOW TO GET STARTED
Becoming a successful influencer may seem like a catch-22: you need a certain number of followers to get endorsement deals, but you can’t get followers unless enough people know who you are. What’s a bright young entrepreneur to do?
PICK A TOPIC
Nikki de Jager started by simply uploading her own makeup tutorials. She now owns a line of cosmetics and has been named a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador. What’s her secret? How can you get there?
Start by choosing your niche. Nikki loved makeup and decided to upload her tutorials after watching others on YouTube.
Make sure you choose something you’re passionate about and good at. Viewers come to your channel to learn and be inspired. Maybe entrepreneurship for teens is your niche!
PICK A PLATFORM
Since you’ll probably be looking to reach your fellow Gen Zers, your best bets are YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. Your platform of choice should go with your niche. For example, beauty and fashion influencers tend to use Instagram while gamers are generally found on YouTube.
You might already know which platform is the best one to showcase your niche. If not, search for the most popular influencers in your field and find out which platform most of them favor.
CREATE A SEPARATE PROFILE
Think of this as your influencer personality. Name the account something memorable and fun. DanTDM and Mr. Beast are both easy to remember – and easy to find. Some platforms offer the option to open a business account. Make sure you create a strong, professional profile for your channel that includes:
- A short, engaging bio of yourself and why you’re making this channel
- A high-quality photo
- Links to your other relevant social media channels or accounts
YouTube allows you to create and curate playlists, which is a great tool for attracting new followers.
CREATE A BRAND
Your personal brand is what people will notice first about you. It will attract them to your channel. It distinguishes you from competitors and helps users identify you in other spaces. Your brand should be something your audience automatically thinks about when your name comes up. It should be the reason why they return to your channel again and again.
There are no hard and fast rules for how often to post on social media. Consistency is more important than quantity. Some businesses post 1-3 times a day on TikTok, but that may not be realistic for you.
Utilize a content calendar to help you stay on top of your postings. This means creating content ahead of time so you’re not always scrambling to post something new each week. Make sure to post both fresh and timely content as well as evergreen content. Make sure to let your audience know if you plan to be away for a while.
GROW YOUR AUDIENCE
What’s the secret to gaining followers? Here are a few tips:
- Make smart use of hashtags
- Collaborate with others
- Tag other influencers with larger followings when appropriate
- Interact with your audience in a fun, positive way
- Make it easy to share your content
- Post high-quality content consistently (see above)
- Don’t fall into the trap of having “fake followers”
- Don’t spam your followers
- Stick to your niche
- Stay positive
MAKE THAT MONEY!
Once you’ve reached a certain number of followers, consider joining a company that specializes in connecting influencers with brands. Think of them as agents who will get you the best deals in exchange for your hard work.
Alternatively, you might consider approaching your favorite brands and asking them if they’d like you to help them out. This works best if you have quite a lot of followers already.
See you on TikTok!
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