Influencer marketing campaigns have gone through a huge spike in popularity over the years and with good reason.
Back in the day, before the rise of the internet and social media accounts, marketers didn’t have as many choices like we do today.
Celebrities were created by mass media and the only influencer marketing campaigns that we saw were expensive campaigns like Coca-Cola or Nike.
These days, though, anyone can become an influencer on social media, as long as they spend some time learning how to become a social media influencer and then put the work in.
Content creators are our new celebrities, in part because they’re able to specialize in niches.
There are now nano influencers and micro celebrities, people at the top of their highly specialized field.
For example, Gary Vaynerchuk started out by working long hours in his father’s wine store before eventually taking over and exploding the business’s growth through an effective content strategy. By creating a daily video show where he talked about different wines, he became the go-to guy in the wine industry and his shop’s sales went through the roof.
Gary Vaynerchuk is a great example because he used this same strategy to then become a social media marketing influencer by sharing his insights and his strategies.
This allowed him to go from being one of the early nano influencers to being a celebrity in his own right, which is why he’s now also a bestselling author and the owner of a successful advertising agency.
And so now that we know why influencers are on the rise, you probably want to know how to become a social media influencer yourself.
The good news for you is that we’re going to dive into everything that you need to know to become the next big micro influencers.
Let’s get started.
Is Becoming A Social Media Influencer Right For You?
Before you start out on your journey to become a social media or Instagram influencer, you need to first figure out whether it’s the right path for you.
It takes a certain type of person to exert social media influence, and it’s also not exactly a short term commitment. The advantage is that you get to do what you love – the disadvantage is that you’ll have to grind non-stop even when you don't feel like it.
The good news here is that influencer marketing is on the rise, and you could argue that more people are able to make a living as influencers now than at any time before. The statistics and the studies help to prove that.
For example, 45% of influencers receive at least four proposals for brand campaigns every month, while influencers on Instagram are powering a $1.7 billion industry.
YouTubers between one and three million subscribers earn an average of $125,000 per post.
There are no guarantees that you’ll even be successful, and indeed the odds are stacked against you.
There’s no way to guarantee success and if you’re not doing something that you love doing, you could really struggle to find the will power to stick with it.
With that said, the rewards are worth the risk if you can handle it, and we don’t mean just financially.
If you get your content strategy right and become an influencer on Instagram or some other social network, you’ll form a community and make a living from doing what you’re passionate about and what you love.
Who wouldn't want to live that lifestyle?
What Is A Social Media Influencer?
There’s no solid definition or certain number of followers you need to officially wield “social media influence”, and technically we all have a certain amount of social media influence, even if it’s just because of the reviews that we’ve posted on Yelp or TripAdvisor.
As a general rule, when we talk about social media influencer marketing, we’re talking about brands seeking out micro influencers who have the power to introduce their product to their audience.
For a brand to consider someone as an influencer, they typically need enough followers and audience engagement to show that working with them will have some sort of tangible impact, even if that’s just exposure.
It’s important to remember that not all social media influencers make a living from it, and indeed it’s only really the top 1% who are able to.
With that said, even smaller scale influencers, such as Instagram users with a thousand or so followers, can benefit in terms of free products and unique collaboration opportunities, while for brands, it gives them the chance to tap into a dedicated target audience.
The vast majority of influencers get to where they are by constantly and consistently executing on a content strategy.
They become a part of people’s lives purely because they post regular content that people consume and engage with in real time.
Read our other blog on how much influencer marketing costs, here.
How To Become A Social Media Influencer
By now, you should have a good idea of what being an influencer involves and whether you’re the right kind of person or not. The next step is to jump on in and to show you how to become a social media influencer.
The good news for you is that we have a 17-step list that you can follow to give yourself the best possible chances of success. Here’s what you’ll need to do.
1. Find A Niche
The niche that you occupy is what will define your entire career as an influencer. If you don’t have a niche it can be very difficult to grow your business or brand to mass levels, no matter what other advantages you bring to the table.
Every influencer on Instagram has a niche, even if they’re famous because of a reality TV show. In fact, most reality TV stars end up specializing in fashion or even just pop culture.
In practical terms, the niche that you find will depend upon what you’re interested in.
If you’re into video games, for example, perhaps you’ll specialize in Fortnite or you’ll focus on sniper shooting.
If you are having difficulties figuring out which niche you should be in then try drilling into what you're really good at or what your weird quirks are. Sometimes our weirdest things become our more valuable assets.
When you successfully find your niche, your audience will soon follow because you will naturally attract them because you love what you do.
2. Select Which Social Channels You’ll Use
Once you’ve identified your niche, you’re ready to pick out which social channels you’re going to use.
There’s an art and a science to identifying the best social media channel to sign up to, but if you know which niche you’re targeting and who you’re reaching out to, it can get you off to a good start.
If your niche is educating small business owners, then you’re more likely to find your audience on LinkedIn than on Snapchat.
As an influencer, another thing to consider is which social media channel you’re best at.
If you’re a natural in front of the camera, then try creating some really cool YouTube videos or to set up an Instagram account instead of pounding out blogs every week.
You really want to hound in on what makes you comfortable and happy and do that.
3. Find And Engage With A Target Audience
Finding your target audience is the first step towards becoming a successful and well-respected influencer, and in fact it’s the very first thing that you should do once you decide which niche to serve.
This comes ahead of creating a content strategy because without a tightly defined target audience, you have no way of knowing what kind of content will lead to engagement.
Engagement itself comes in many forms, and what it looks like can vary dramatically between Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.
As a general rule engagement is measured in terms of likes, comments, shares and post clicks.
Having large amounts of engagement on your content shows that people are interested in your brand and what you have to say, but it can also become a self-fulfilling prophecy because social networking sites tend to surface content that’s already proven to generate engagement.
4. Create And Give Away Free Content That Has Value Worth Paying For
First let me start by saying you should NOT give out BAD content.
The world and the internet does not need more mediocre content.
People want the juicy stuff. People want the real shit. People do not want bullshit! People do not want to be sold every time they turn around. Stop selling so much and start having more conversations.
That's how a person will become a successful influencer of anything. It doesn't matter which niche they are in, if you connect with people on a real and genuine level they will support you.
No matter which social media platform you decide to use or which niche you chose to serve, if you have a powerful energy and believe in what you're selling you will be successful.
Remember, when you’re posting to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any other social network, you’re competing against every other content creator on the platform.
You need to be at the top of your game if you want to cut through the noise, and the best way to do that is to create content that’s worth paying for.
My general rule of thumb is you should be comfortable charging $50 for it or you shouldn't publish it at all.
What I mean by this is when you really know your audience you can create content so they will find the value in it. If you think you could do more research on your audience read about our #R3MAT Method that helps you attract the right people at the right time.
It also teaches you how to reach your dream customer.
5. Have A Powerful Message And Story That You Can Share With Your Audience
Your message and your story will depend somewhat on your audience and your personal brand, but it also needs to be grounded in authenticity and truth.
Every single person has their own story and each one of us will tell our story in our own way. That is what makes our story so powerful. It is so powerful because we can use our stories to connect with people all around the world.
As a creator, your message and your story is everything.
Going back to the example of Gary Vaynerchuk, the story of his early days at Wine Library are what gave him the kudos that allowed him to become a social media marketing guru.
Meanwhile, he has a powerful message when it comes to his relentless promotion of the “hustle” mind-set. It’s a message that his audience engages with every day and which has enabled him to build an entire community.
You have to find where you fit and run with it. Don't be afraid to use your story, whatever it may be. It's probably our greatest superpower.
6. Create A Content Strategy
A content strategy is one of the most important aspects of any business strategy.
It can help here to focus on the #R3MAT methodology, which helps you reach people where they are.
If you can get this right, and if you can meet them at the right times in their customer journey, you’ll have no problem building an audience around your personal brand.
It’s hard to overstate how important your content strategy actually is. After all, as an influencer, the heart of what you do revolves around creating and distributing top quality content that other people find valuable, not just you.
If you want to build up a following on Facebook and Instagram, you’re going to need great content.
Creating content doesn't have to be insanely difficult nor does it mean you need to spend money on the best equipment or the newest and coolest gadget. Creating content could be a simple tweet, a video, or even a Facebook Live.
Don't get bogged down or intimidated by having to create content.
Take a simple approach and publish something even if it's just to see how it does. Nothing is wrong when you are trying to figure out what your audience best engages with.
You just have to find what your people value and give them that. You might even find that sometimes your audience doesn't care what the content looks like.
7. Consistently Engage With Your Target Audience
Your content is the fuel that burns the fire at the heart of your influencer marketing strategy, but engagement is the spark that lights it.
When people engage with your content, it sends a strong signal to Facebook and Instagram that you’re posting stuff that your audience wants to see. When they see that, it in turn makes the algorithm more likely to surface the content to other people.
Engagement is also healthy because if you want to have massive social media influence, you need to be able to push people to take action.
A brand that’s looking to carry out a social media influencer marketing campaign will be looking for someone who can push their followers to make a purchase or to follow them too, rather than just to silently observe the promoted content.
The important thing to remember is to make sure you are actually building real relationships with people.
8. Track Everything
One of the big benefits of creating digital content, whether that’s on Twitter and Instagram or whether it’s on Facebook or YouTube, is the fact that it’s so inherently measurable.
By keeping an eye on your analytics and measuring metrics, from followers on Instagram to website visits, you can see whether your efforts are reaping the rewards that you’re hoping for.
Honestly, if you want to know how to become a social media influencer, one of the best things that you can do is to learn by trial and error.
By tracking everything, you can try different content types and approaches and see what your audience responds to. By learning what works and what doesn’t on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, you can make sure that everything that you post is a hit.
9. Be Consistent And Authentic
I'll keep this one short and simple.
People can sense when you are being inauthentic. People can sense when you're only in something for the end result.
So, always be honest and genuine and people will sense that and want to do business with you!
Believe in what you're doing and build relationships with people on every level consistently.
10. Invest In Good Equipment
Authenticity is important and it will get you off to a good start, but eventually a time’s going to come when your content needs to become a little more polished.
Filming video clips on your iPhone and bodging together thumbnail images for an Instagram post or a YouTube video are all well and good in the early days, but if you want to be a success in the long run then you need to place a higher premium on quality.
Of course, we’re not saying that buying expensive gear is the secret behind how to become a social media influencer. In fact if anything, you should avoid investing in gear until you start to build a following, because otherwise you can end up with a lot of flashy toys but no community.
As long as you have a basic level of quality, the content will shine through, at least in the early days.
11. Think Big And Play Big
To a certain extent, we’re all limited by our own ambition.
If we think that we don’t deserve to have a successful Instagram account, for example, then people are going to sense that and they’re not going to want to follow us.
If you hope to create an Instagram business or to become a social media influencer, the most important thing is for you to have self-confidence.
Then there’s the fact that if you position yourself as an expert in your niche, people are going to take note and to listen.
If you’re not willing to put your personal brand on the line and to get your name out there on your social media channel of choice, there’s no way that you’re going to attract big brands and make money on Instagram.
12. Constantly Build An Email List And Don’t Be Afraid To Use It
What do successful marketers and successful influencers have in common?
Well, one key factor is that both of them make building an email list a priority.
There’s a perception amongst some people that email marketing is old-fashioned, but nothing could be farther from the truth. It’s still a super popular way of engaging with people, and it has a role to play in any influencer marketing strategy.
Building an email list is important as opposed to purchasing one because it helps you to ensure that you’re operating within the law at all times and that you’re only reaching people who want to hear from you. And if you’re building an Instagram business, you’ll want a repository of data that doesn’t rely solely on the network.
And if your Instagram feed goes down, you’ll want a way still be able to reach people.
13. Network ALL Of The Time
When you’re an influencer, you’re always on.
The party never stops because you’re under scrutiny the entire time, a lot like a traditional celebrity. Influencers, even more so than everyone else, know that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
You’ll notice that many well-known Instagram users collaborate with each other to create combined content, and this can only happen if you network with people.
This can take the form of interacting with the content they post on Instagram or it can be more traditional networking taking part in-person at events. If you make YouTube videos, for example, then you may have some success going to meet people at VidCon.
14. Give Value, Support And A Sense Of Community
Every single piece of content that you post on Facebook or to your Instagram feed needs to provide some sort of value to people, even if that’s just in the form of a little chuckle.
The kind of value that you provide will really depend on your target audience and your personal brand, so if you’re a photographer then that could range from showing off your work to offering up tutorials or taking people behind the scenes of your latest Instagram post.
Influencers’ Instagram accounts are full with examples of them creating communities, and so a good place to start can be to look at their Instagram stories or to see what they’re doing on Twitter and YouTube.
Better yet, ask yourself what attracts you to the communities that you yourself are a member of and then see what you can learn from them.
15. Create A Website Or Blog
In the same way that your email list is an owned asset that you can rely on, creating a website or a blog will also allow you to set up some real estate that doesn’t rely on a social media channel.
This goes above and beyond learning how to become a social media influencer and helps to set you up as a long-term influencer and expert as opposed to just a flash in the pan.
Remember though that just like how if you want to build your Instagram followers, you need to regularly create posts and Instagram stories, your website/blog will also need regular updates if you expect people to keep coming back for more.
16. Research And Learn Every Single Day
Getting to the top of the game as an influencer requires you to keep on learning new things every day.
It’s not like going for a job interview where you have to perform well once or twice on the interview and then you get offered a contract. Influencers’ Instagram, Facebook and Twitter feeds are like an ever-updating portfolio and you’re only ever as good as your last day.
If you stop learning, stop carrying out research and stop improving, your Facebook or Instagram followers are quickly going to tire of seeing the same old content and they’re going to turn elsewhere.
Social media marketing, and making money on Instagram as an extension of that, are all about relevance and timeliness. If you’re not constantly learning and refining your strategy, you’re going to lose that relevancy.
17. Create A Facebook Page To Serve Your Community
This final tip might be a little less relevant if Facebook is your main social media channel, but if you’re creating content on Instagram, Twitter or YouTube, it becomes a no brainer.
Some people make the mistake of over-relying on their primary social media channel, and that can lead to problems if the network wanes in popularity or if your account is suspended.
Creating a Facebook page to serve your community just makes sense because it gives people another place to gather and to talk about the content that you’re creating.
Now that you know the steps that you need to follow if you want to become a successful influencer, you still need to be willing and able to put the work in.
The content creators that you look up to didn’t wake up one morning and find themselves with hundreds of thousands of followers on their social media accounts.
Instead, they developed a content strategy and then they stuck to it, adjusting their approach as needed to guarantee them the best possible return from their marketing investments.
The good news is that you can follow in their footsteps, and the tips that we’ve shared in this article are designed to help you to do just that. So if you haven’t already, be sure to block out some time in your calendar to revisit your content strategy and to make sure that you have a strategy behind what you’re doing.
As long as you have a content strategy and a defined target audience, and as long as you follow up and deliver on what you planned to do, there’s no reason why you can’t become the next hot Instagram influencer or social media guru.
Other than that, all you need is a little luck – so good luck!
If you would like to have more conversations like these then make sure to check out the TEC (The Entrepreneur Cooperative)!