When you talk, does everybody listen? Do you have an in-depth knowledge of a particular topic? You could become an expert, develop a devoted fan following, and make some money while you’re at it. Welcome to the world of the social media influencer.
Are You It?
You may follow one on social media, or at least know of them. Perhaps you just bought a pair of Wedgie-fit jeans while browsing through Instagram princess Kylie Jenner’s stories, or your teenage daughter insisted on going as “IISuperwomanII,” a.k.a. Canadian vlogging superstar Lilly Singh, for Halloween. Jenner and Singh are just two of the many influencers conquering the digital masses one follower at a time. Jenner kickstarted her multimillion-dollar career by just being, well, herself. Like the rest of the Kardashian clan, Kylie Jenner’s success is due to the two A’s – access and aspiration. While she promotes her beauty products via her apps and website to her legions of fans, they also get a peek into her fabulous lifestyle via Snapchat as she cruises around in her Maybach or Ferrari. Everything a teen aspires to! In a recent survey conducted by celebrity branding experts, Jenner ranked 62% higher than traditional Hollywood celebrities when it came to being unique, which is what brands want – for their products to stand out.
So who are these norm-bending individuals, and what is the secret of their massive success? For those just waking up to this digital revolution, an influencer is social media user who has the credibility to be considered an expert on his or her field, like fashion, technology, or food. Typically, this individual has a large social media following that religiously follows their every move – and more importantly, their every recommendation. To their followers, an influencer’s word is the ultimate testimonial, for anything from a kitchen appliance to a smartphone app.
How Do They Make Money?
There is no middleman between followers and influencers, and because of that intimate and direct relationship, top brands reach out to social media titans to help spread awareness of their products, or even sell them, to their followers. This is known as influencer-based marketing, in which media networks, advertising agencies, brand experts and marketing professionals come together to sell a product. Take Logan Paul; the American viral star got his start on Vine (the now-defunct, short-form video-hosting service where users shared six-second-long clips) and is now a leading YouTube personality. He’s endorsed leading brands, commanding up to $150,000 for a single Facebook post and $80,000 for sponsored content on Instagram, according to Forbes. A recent Google study found that 70% of teenage YouTube subscribers say they relate more to YouTubers they do traditional celebrities like actors or pop stars.
How Do You Become One?
First, see what other influencers are talking about. The top three categories that have the attention of online audiences are travel, humour and lifestyle. Find your niche. Once you have that figured out, upload content constantly and consistently. This keeps you alive in the social media universe, and depending on your content and how prolific you are, you will build an audience. Next comes managing and engaging your audience with relevant content. If you’ve found a way to identify and capitalize on an unmet need within your audience, you’re on your way to becoming the next Sultan of Snapchat or Imperator of Instagram.
What is the Future?
We rarely click on online ads because they’re often intrusive and irritating. So how do brands get attention? By incorporating their products into content that people are already hooked on. You might rush out to buy the newest HP printer because you saw it on What’s Up Moms, the most-subscribed parenting channel on YouTube, started by two moms and digital media veterans. According to eConsultancy, almost 60% of fashion and beauty brands have an influencer marketing strategy in place, while 21% plan to invest in one over the next year. These sorts of collaborations between big brands and influencers are only to increase. If you’re serious about turning your social media presence into a career, it’s never too early to start building your influence.
Baisakhi Roy | The Edge Blog