As unlikely as it might sound, being a social media influencer is a very real way of earning money. However, since it is￼ all that, it also needs real effort and work on your part.
What is a social media influencer all about
The bottom line is that having a few thousand real followers on a social platform like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest can make you a very decent income. This is a relatively new phenomenon and a few years back this opportunity did not exist.
How and why this works is explained in detail below, along with, if this is something that interests you, how you can be on your merry way becoming one such money making Internet influencer.
Who can do this
If we cut right down to the chase, making money as a social media influencer requires you to be popular. However, fortunately, being popular on social media does not always require you to be a celebrity.￼
Yes, celebrities do have it easy when it comes to having an impactful present on social media platforms, but one must remember that they have worked hard previously in other spheres of life to achieve that level of fame, which they then leverage for their social media presence as well.￼
As far as noncelebrity people like you and me are concerned, what it takes is gathering a healthy number of interested fans and followers on your favourite social media accounts. And by no means, should you have just one social media account!
You must be clear on one thing. When we speak of being a social media influencer, we are talking about someone who has their primary presence on social media as opposed to somebody who has an active blog as well where he or she frequently posts content.
The influencers use the power of the social media account to garner their readers and followers, for most part. They can use other means as well to get people to find and discover them, but all the action takes place on the social media platform. The readers and followers are also people who have active accounts on those same platforms.
Followers… are what matters
To become a social media influencer you need followers and fans. So how do you garner a lot of followers on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest?
It helps if you have something interesting to post on a regular basis. That is just the start. It’s not easy to come with up content to post consistently and you need to do some planning and strategising. The pretty girls have it easier. They can just as easily post pictures of themselves when there is nothing else going on… Just kidding 🙂
But that is not very far removed from reality. Platforms like instagram that are all about the pictures, draw people based on visual appeal. So posts from National Geographic are popular, but so are the pretty girls who are willing to make friends with a camera.
It’s more than that, of course. There are places, animals, buildings, food, products, architecture, travel, books, poetry etc. It’s all about the imagery to begin with every image allows you to speak about it, or write a message as a caption. It is then left to your Instagram followers to interact with that message and for fresh interested people to discover you.
The appeal of imagery is not restricted to Instagram. Images have become a very popular medium of communication across all mediums for a couple of simple reasons: Images are easily absorbed and prove to be more engaging due to the ease of interaction, and because cameras are available to most everyone today if they have a decent quality smartphone.
Get more people to discover you
It is difficult to gather followers to begin with. You definitely need a start of some kind. Most people get this from the circle of people around them, or in other words, you immediate circle of influence.
Depending on where you are in life and in the social media universe, this circle could be your school or college crowd, your workplace cohabitants, friends and family etc. These are practically where everyone starts to build their social media influence.
The more social you are, the more people you are likely to meet and not just in real life. I have friends who spend a lot of time online. They read blogs, subscribe to newsletter, follow people on Facebook and Instagram and post their own stuff pretty frequently as well. They have a large number of people that they know only from online interactions. This is not too strange, if you think about it.
Lets take the example of a popular blog. Thousands of people might be visiting it everyday who are complete strangers to the blog owner. They might also act upon the offers presented on the blog without a personal reference to the blog owner.
Reaching out to people online through your social media account
If you are to have a large following online, it’s given that this will comprise of people who ‘find’ you online. Sometimes you are going to find them as well. My friends are good at reaching out to profiles that they find interesting. Many such interactions have become online acquaintances and some have turned into future work propositions.
Reaching out to someone online is not so complicated. You don’t need to have something to offer every time. Most people value genuine feedback and appreciation. If you have something to contribute like a suggestion or an idea, all the more better.
Connecting online can be far less intimidating than reality but if you are serious about building a network, you must take it seriously. Have a genuine interaction regardless of whether you are looking to build a relationship or just commenting on something.
Building an online network online can seem like a full time job, and the fact is that it can be, with earning potential rivalling that of full time jobs. This thing has become more powerful than anyone thought simply because of the sheer reach and impact of it. And the phenomenon to notice is the transfer of power that has occurred.
The power of social media and the influencers
Even the biggest of brands acknowledge the influence regular people can have on the social media networks. Referrals from popular people seem to matter almost as much the celebrities, mostly because everyone has their own set of limited followers amongst whom they are influential.
So while I might not be able to convince people about a service or a product if I did an advertisement on the television, I would wield some say over my own tribe of people that I have as my followers.
Another reason for the efficacy of social media is in the intimate and personal way that it reaches its users. The message gets to them at receptive times when they are actively indulging in an interactive online sessions.
The conversions for offers made is such manner are deemed to be much higher than blanket advertising like hoardings. This is the reason why a person with a genuine following of 5000 people can successfully be a social media influencer.
I say ‘genuine’ followers because there are many ways to boost your followers on a platform like Facebook and Instagram. But their authenticity will determine how interactive they are to your posts and how responsive to the offers.
If you are going to make arrangements with businesses to promote them, including other blogs and social accounts, they are going to have a look at the interaction reports that are a feature of business accounts on mostly all social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Keep in mind that all these platforms offer a personal account and a business account. If you just starting out with this open a business account in addition to a personal account or convert your personal account into a business one.
Even if the people you work with do not require it, although they will, the business social media accounts come with helpful features for you as well, such as interaction insights about which of your posts are garnering more attention and various other helpful statistical data.
How are you supposed to begin
Okay. There are a few ways to do this, that kind of depends on what you want to promote and how. A lot of people focus on growing their list of followers, one way or another. They post popular content and not on any specific topic as such. Do a bit of research on what topics do well on which platforms and choose one that appeals to you.
For example, let’s say you choose Instagram as your primary and favourite platform for social media influencing. There are many small businesses and brands that have an Instagram handle as well.
Once you have built a decent amount of engagement with them you start reaching out to these businesses, starting with, perhaps, the smaller ones. You offer to promote their brand by posting about it and promoting it with your social media reach.
The 2nd way to being a social media influencer, which we personally prefer, is to choose a genre or a subject that genuinely interests you. This can even be a hobby, a skill or something you have special knowledge of.
Just keep one thing in mind. Have a clear idea about the marketability of the content. Most of the content can be monetised in some way as long as your audience is the kind to spend some money.
There are likely to be some direct products you can promote on your page or some related ones. For example, people interested in woodworking are also likely to buy into eco-friendly offers, home improvement and green energy.
A lot of influencers focus on promoting other small businesses that also use or could use social media to boost their exposure. So if you are posting about your prowress in Yoga, you can reach out to promote other fitness related offers and small businesses.
Being in the fitness genre is actually considered one of the most profitable genres to be in. A whole range of categories of businesses open up for you. You can promote everything from healthy diet plans, all the different workout programs, weight loss programns, local gyms, fitness clothing, meditation programs etc. The promotions in this genre also pay pretty well.
Regardless of which topic you are going to post about, make it relatable and have a clear idea about how you are going to monetise it in the future.
How to gather more followers
The formula to success as a social media influencer is gathering more and more responsive followers who see your content.
So the first thing to do is, post content that attracts. Please don’t confuse this to mean that it always has to be meaningful content. It has to be said that while Instagram is probably the most popular social media platform today, the kind of accounts that gathers the maximum attention are about being beautiful and sexy.
Let’s be real. Beauty does matter on Instagram. Beauty of a place, person, message etc. with probably personal beauty being on top of the popularity list.
I have a friend who writes very deep and meanigful captions to her images covering a range of subjects from philosophy to politics. But the pictures she writes these captions to are pictures of herself and she happens to be a very pretty girl who takes even prettier pictures of herself. Ever heard of Instagram filters? Yeah, they are pretty great. She is smart and recognise the power of a ‘hook’. A ‘hook’ is that little something that draws a person in, get them ‘hooked’.
She also posts rarely these days but her account is active because people keep posting comments and she replies. She also keep changing her status and linking to different subjects as per what she is trying to create an awareness about.
She manages to get quiet a bit of traction from young startups and companies through her account. They often want her help on boosting their own presence, after seeing the imprssive stuff she has done with her account. She is also someone who reads and researches businesses and entrepreneurs that interest her and doesn’t hesitate to reach out if she feels she can contribute.
So yes, plan your content in a way that it attracts the kind of people you want as your followers.
There is also the paid promotions route to take. You can run promotions for your own account to get the extra visibility and boost your followers. Hopefully, if you get the settings right for your ad campaign, you can reach the right kind of people who will be interactive and responsive to the stuff you post about.
This is the fastest way to build followers although of late it has also become a a more expensive way to build a following than it used to be. Facebook is a good example.
Maybe because the novelty of it has worn off or maybe because Facebook has raised it’s stakes with the increasing popularity and use of social media for business. But using ad campaigns to generate likes and website traffic now costs muck more than a couple of years back.
Taking the first step
Before you consider making due efforts towards getting people to your social media account, plan and post relatable, meaningful and engaging content.
This is a typical rookie mistake that most people make. In the excitement of starting something new and getting out there, they start promoting without prior planning.
This is a mistake for two reasons. First, you will waste your initial efforts if you do not have enough compelling content to draw a person in. If you cannot engage the person they will simply go away without interacting with your account. This not only costs the visitor but also any further shares and references that visitor might have intitiated.
The second compelling reason to build your content as the first point of agenda is brand image. If you have some sparse posts, poor quality content on your account it gives a bad impression to the visitors, making them think you are unprofessional and untrustworthy. You have to build an image for people to trust you and that is managed by making your account look like there is enough information or content that the visitor is interested in.
So go ahead and start planing your content first by following the tips that we have detailed above. Once you have established a good conversion rate for the people who vet your profile, start promoting it through the methods spoken of above.
Things like paid campaigns can be a bit of a learning curve and be prepared to have some budget set aside for the experimental stage where you are learning about how to use various advertisements on different platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Pinterst and Google Ads.
We have used all of these and a tip that we would like to share is try using and getting used to one platform at a time. Move on to the next only when you have got everything fine tuned or have decided to move on.
All of these advertisement platforms have the same basic principles like targeting demographics and interests, although the interface is different. However, the result they deliver varies a lot. For example, for getting more followers on Instagram, ads on Facebook and Instagram will deliver better results than Google Ads. But if it is link clicks to a website or blogpost you are looking for then Google ads might deliver more positive results.
So experiment with this to begin with, but only after thoroughly learning and making yourself familiar with each. You don’t have to use all the ad platforms as well.