With the rise of social media a new career manifested itself: the influencer. Today, about 85% of social media users call themselves influencers. Due to this rapid advancement and unique approach to marketing many influencers have earned their spots as entrepreneurs; however, not everyone agrees that they belong there.
In this article, we’ll explore and answer four common questions: what is an internet influencer, who is considered an internet influencer, how do you become an influencer, and is an influencer an entrepreneur? Hopefully, after reading this article you will be equipped with knowledge of this new and rapidly changing career.
What is an internet influencer?
An influencer is someone who works in social media within a certain industry that has direct influence over an audience (commonly referred to as “followers”). Normally influencers will also have an in-depth knowledge of the industry they “influence.” Influencers often utilize “influencer marketing” strategies to help build their brand authority.
The influencer dates back to the times when social media first arrived. Although, the term “influencing” was coined much later. Before the modern day influencers came to be, companies would use celebrities and athletes to advertise their product or service. Since social media has become much more popular, the influence of someone with 30K followers compared to an athlete's endorsement is about the same.
Today you’ll find that influencers fit into four main categories:
- Celebrities: Artists, athletes, pop stars
- Industry knowledge experts and leaders
- Micro-Influencers: those who have a notable following and are able to drive an impact through their social media profile
- Bloggers and content creators (a person who creates information that can be shared through multiple mediums or platforms. Ie Youtube, Instagram, Facebook)
Who is considered an influencer?
Influencers are normally pretty easy to spot. You can even find them out in the real world with a tripod snapping pictures or dancing to the newest TikTok trend. However, it might be a bit harder to spot an influencer on specific online platforms.
Usually influencers have large followings. Their followers count can vary from 10K to over 300K followers. But, just because someone has a large following, it doesn't make them an influencer. An influencer will have some sort of authority in their industry. If you were to search a hashtag, they’ll be the first posts to appear. More than this, they’ll often partake in paid promotions that they get commission from. In a way, influencers are the new celebrities. Most of the time if you send them a message they won't even see it!
How to become an influencer
One might look at the sheer amount of influencers out there and assume it's relatively easy to become one–looks can be deceiving. Building and maintaining a large following, a community rather, takes more effort than you might think. Becoming an influencer isn't as simple as posting a cute picture and going on your merry way. There are many components that go into influencing. If anything, it helps to remember that influencers are marketing experts that take the time to fine tune their craft.
There is no one size fits all explanation for how to become an influencer. You can try one way that works for someone, but hit a dead end yourself. Many fail to realize the trial and error that comes with this career. However, there are tried and true steps you can take to make sure you’re headed in the right direction.
Find your niche
As an influencer, you cannot exist in multiple industries. This is not a jack of all trades job. Find a niche market you like and stick with it. More importantly, make sure that the niche you pick isn't one that's simply popular. Make sure it fits you and your personality or your followers will sniff you out quick fast in a hurry.
How can you find your niche? Well, that's simple, figure out your strengths and weaknesses. You’ll want to place yourself in an environment where your strengths are being showcased and have room for growth. Once you figure out your niche you can begin to streamline your efforts.
Here are some of the most common “niches,” or “categories” you can choose from:
- Health and Fitness
If you are passionate about more than one of these categories you can always combine them. For instance health and fitness pairs really well with food. While lifestyle can go hand in hand with fashion and travel. So, your options are limitless and you can spread yourself amongst many categories while still staying focused on a particular niche.
Pick a Platform
The next step in your journey of becoming an influencer is to pick your social media platform. Today, there are tons of them, but the most popular include: Instagram , TikTok, Snapchat, and Twitter. Each platform is designed to market in a different way. So it's essential to understand how you want to market and what marketing platform works best for your niche. If you decide fashion is your niche, then Instagram will work best; however, if you’re into sports and entertainment, Twitter is a better fit for you.
More than this, it’s equally as important to consider your target audience. Figure out what platforms they’re using and make your presence known. This is the best way to help increase your eCommerce sales. There’s no point in creating a TikTok account if the majority of your target audience uses Instagram. Make sure your efforts are targeted in the right areas otherwise you’re wasting valuable time.
Prioritize your content
Producing high-quality content is the most important aspect of becoming an effective influencer. Your content should always be unique, and authentic. Don’t be a copycat, your audience will pick up on this and it can result in a loss of followers. Regardless of what industry you work in, content that is unique is the only way to keep your followers engaged and coming back.
Luckily, there are so many ways to distribute your content. You can use pictures, videos, vlogs, and so much more! Just make sure that you have a brand voice that distinguishes you from the crowd. Finally, when it comes to prioritizing your content, you can't just post and go. Your audience likes to be interacted with. Simply put, don't just post a photo and log off.
Go into your comments and reply to your followers. This is an easy and simple way to show them you care and engage with the people who enjoy your content. Moreover, create a posting schedule. Posting once a week won't get you followers and it's a surefire way to lose ones you have–they’ll easily forget you even exist.
Give your audience what they want
Your audience is who you are influencing and posting for. Therefore, they’re the ones you need to listen to. It's important to have an understanding of who your audience is and how they prefer to use your content. Reviewing your analytics can help you do just that. This will give you an insight into how your audience is interacting with you as well as helpful demographics you can use to tweak your posts. Listen to comment suggestions too, don't just blow them off. Someone might just provide you with the fresh idea you've been looking for!
Is an influencer an entrepreneur?
Now, for the answer to the question you've all been waiting for: is an influencer an entrepreneur? Before we can give you the answer we need to first ask ourselves what is an entrepreneur?
An entrepreneur is a person who creates, manages, and assumes all risks belonging to a business they created. If you look back to the definition of an influencer, you’d know that they’re people with specialized industry knowledge who influence a target audience.
Knowing this, we’ve come to the conclusion that not all influencers are entrepreneurs, but some certainly can be. Many influencers take on the role of an entrepreneur by starting their own business and marketing it to their audience. More than this, many companies directly hire influencers to use and sell their products using their influencer platform.
So, yes, an influencer can be an entrepreneur, but not all are. Customers are actually more likely to buy products that an influencer suggests simply because they trust their word. So, it’s no surprise that many influencers use this to their advantage and start a business they might have been dreaming of for a while.
While many people view influencer marketing as child's play and “not a real career,” that’s simply not true. Influencers use tried and true marketing strategies to create, advertise, and sell brands. More than this, a career is really what you make of it. Social media shows no signs of leaving anytime soon, and neither does the influencer.