We are hearing more and more about influencers in today’s news from those commanding big audiences on Instagram to new faces reporting on politics. We are living in a very fast changing world and whereas only a generation or so ago how you got to the top of your industry sector usually depended on having many years experience and qualifications today it is very different.
We have many ways in which to engage with information today from the latest news headlines to boxing day bargains we are able to obtain updates via not only traditional printed media and radio / television, but also via the internet and this in itself brings a whole host of communication channels. So long as you can get online, have that holy WIFI symbol on offer, then you can receive the news and information you require be it via email, via websites, updates on social media, Apps and more.
With these new channels comes new stars. With the internet comes also a speedier way to deliver information direct. Furthermore, the internet enables us to grow our own audiences and build our own connections quickly such as subscribers to our emails via our website or simply by building followers on Twitter. As more and more people chose to browse information on the internet over printed media then those whom are delivering the information online are seen as the ones who hold a considerable amount of power.
“Years ago it what we read in the morning newspapers that gave us an insight in to what had happened yesterday whereas the internet now gives us a way to view what is happening now.” Christopher Walkey
Television has also exploded in choice going from just a handful of channels in the 1980’s to 100’s if not 1,000’s open for our viewing today which of course diminishes viewer ratings per channel – No longer would a simple repeat episode of Dads Army on the BBC or an ITV repeat showing of Carry on Camping command millions of viewers… Times have changed!
It is far more easier now for anybody to create their own ‘channel’ be it live streaming on Facebook or simply delivering educational blogs on LinkedIn. There is a somewhat endless list of opportunities today to have your very own studio at home communicating with your audiences live, daily, weekly or as and when you require – As you grow your audience then so too will the demand on you to deliver.
What exactly is an influencer and can that be you?
Quite simply put, an influencer is someone or a brand who is seen to have the power to affect the choice making of others such as their purchasing decisions, political views and more. They will have authority in a chosen sector / industry and be seen to have a trustworthy knowledge and experience to be listened to – They will likely have a regular voice and communicate often especially to their direct audiences. You can be an influencer in make-up, wine tasting, football, gaming and no end of other niches.
How to become an influencer:
It is very much open to anyone becoming an influencer in whatever subject they chose and you are not limited to skills, education, money or location. The simple steps to take, plus of course plenty of elbow grease, will look something rather like the following:
- Choose your subject and choose it well. Many people will know in their hearts, or will know because it could be financially rewarding, exactly what they wish to be seen as an influencer in. Other people will need to research and decide which route to take. Try and opt for something that is not already flooded (unless you are looking at a whole new way of approaching things) and think big so ideally a subject that allows for plenty of expansion, subjects, connections, earnings etc.
- You or your brand? This literally means that are you looking to promote you as a name / nickname and this will be what becomes the influencer or do you wish to work / hide behind a business name? Each option is great though influencers will more likely be a person over a brand – People will relate to someone over something better.
- Grab your name across the internet. It will be very tough to dig yourself out a name that has not already been taken with regards to domain and also social media channels. It is useful for you to research your audiences and where they are most likely to be online ie age group, location, sex. This will help you to decide which social media channel to focus your attention on – Instagram is said to be the best for influencers currently. Is video best for you, maybe images, blogs, info graphics, radio slots or maybe some of or all combined?
- Decide on what type of person you wish to be. How are you going to approach things going forwards especially if you are to be the face of what you do – As an influencer you will likely be seen by others, heard by them and read too. It is good to be consistent so people get to follow your style / quality and know what to expect from you – This will help to build long term and dedicated to you audiences.
- It is all about your content. Once you have everything in place and your identity ready to share with the world you will then need to have the content. You should look to research your sector well and be very much up to date with current affairs. The whole point here is to start releasing content that other people will find entertaining, engaging or educational – Importantly it is also about making sure that what you share is found also. Now is the time to populate your channels online with your content and make sure it stands out with great titles, title images and rich keywords – You want to be found.
- Networking with other key influencers. It is also a good idea as you build your channel(s) to invite content from other influencers as this will help your channel grow, pull in other networks and also get you on the radar. You will of course at this stage need to offer something to anyone who is to write for you / share content with you so attempt this only when you feel you have bargaining power ie I have now over 25,000 followers on Twitter or I’ve an average of 10,000 reads on each of my blog posts.
- Work with your audiences. Try not to be simply a robot in how you work and make sure you give time to your audiences such as communicating with them on social media, give them updates on yourself via emails or if you can, physically network at relevant events. As you grow your network then expectation of you will also increase, as an influencer you hold somewhat of a star status and if you want to increase your popularity then having a great relationship with your audiences will help you to further your influence.
- Take a step back and evaluate your progress. Whenever you can you should look at yourself and try to do so ‘outside the box’ as such. Is it time to update your profile, cleanup your social media accounts, adopt new ways to channel your content? What are your competitors doing or how are other influencers in other industries working and succeeding?
- Realise your value. Once you are on your way to becoming an influencer then your value to your industry sector will raise. For many people this stage is sometimes the hardest in what to do next – How do you go from writing / filming daily content to being paid to do so? Some influencers are on £10,000’s a month whereas others earn nothing. At this point you need to start connecting with businesses that would very much like to tap in to your audiences to let them know of you and set prices for them to sponsor your channel(s) or for you to share content on their behalf. Influencers are also asked to review products and services which should not be seen as payment for your time / exposure to your audiences, but is a nice sideline (familiarise yourself at this stage with FTC’s Endorsement Guides).
- Stay patient and be consistent. It will not happen over night and many people give up in the early stages so with this in mind you will know that a key part of becoming a successful influencer is your staying power and consistency. No one will say you have to be 24/7 on it and you of course can take a break if needed as even the top influencers with millions following them will disappear for the odd few days – Just be open and communicate with your audiences whenever you are away ie ‘Sorry I had to take a few days break guys, but I am back now and raring to get my teeth stuck in to some meaty new topics that have hit the headlines last couple of days‘ etc…