How to become an influencer
We have put together this ultimate guide on how to become an influencer to help you on your journey to social media success.
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What is an influencer?
The best definition of an influencer is someone who has gained an engaged social media following by creating aspirational lifestyle based content. Influencers are also commonly referred to as content creators, bloggers, vloggers and key opinion leaders (KOLs).
What is an Instagram influencer?
An Instagram influencer is someone who uses this photo sharing social media platform to build a personal brand and grow their following. Instagram is the favourite platform for the majority of influencers and brands. It is not, however, the only social media platform that influencers can be successful on. See our Platforms page for examples of how to become an influencer on Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest and YouTube.
What is Influencer Marketing?
If you want to monetise your social media profiles as an influencer you need to know what influencer marketing is. Influencer marketing is what brands and companies do when they partner with influencers to raise awareness of a product launch, build brand recognition and credibility with social media users. Generally it involves influencers creating content about a product, posting about it on their social feed/s and recommending it in an authentic tone of voice to their followers.
There are many different ways to do influencer marketing and we outline the key Do’s and Don’ts of influencer marketing here. If you are an influencer partnering with a brand you should be aware of what the brands’ marketing objectives are with their influencer marketing campaigns.
What is the difference between a micro, macro and celebrity influencer?
Influencers are often defined in terminology by their reach. It’s good to become familiar with the terms marketers use when working with influencers.
Micro, power-middle, macro and celebrity influencers are some of the terms marketers use when working with influencers.
A micro or power middle influencer is commonly referenced when people are describing influencers with a smaller following on social media. Macro and celebrity influencers have a larger following.
There is no hard and fast definition of what follower numbers constitute a micro, macro and celebrity influencer.
A guide to followers:
Micro influencer: less than 100k followers
Macro influencers: between 100k and 1 million followers
Celebrity influencers: have over 1 million followers
Anyone looking into how to become an influencer should read this article by Vamp’s Co-Founder about why reach isn’t the most important factor in influencer marketing.
Generally the higher the following the higher the potential payment for a brand-influencer collaboration. The dynamic is changing now as brands are seeing more value in partnering with multiple influencers who have a smaller, more engaged following. There are opportunities for influencers to earn more money from their content through usage rights. The brand might want to use your content on their website, in their e-mail newsletters, or even in print – and will pay you accordingly. Great news for anyone just starting out!
Why become an influencer?
If you are asking yourself the question how to become an influencer, you are taking the first step in what can be an incredibly empowering, fulfilling, creative journey. It’s an exciting industry to join with brands increasing their budgets year on year and social platforms introducing more and more features to help influencers and content creators. You’ve no doubt seen other influencers on social media channels like Instagram collaborating with brands, eating delicious food and travelling the world – to name a few of the opportunities.
Living the digital nomad lifestyle might appeal to you for various reasons. Namely, building a personal brand and freelancing your creative skills enables you to be your own boss. Maybe even quit that 9 – 5. There are many different motivations to wanting to know how to become an influencer. Knowing your key objectives is essential when figuring out your personal brand and photography style.
It might surprise you that not everybody who makes it in this industry originally intended to become a social media influencer, however. For many social media stars the transition from Instagrammer to influencer is completely organic. These unintentional influencers set out at first with a hobby and the dramatic audience growth took them by surprise.
Step 1: How to become an influencer and grow your followers
To start winning collaboration opportunities with brands you’ll need to cultivate an audience. Your social channels should demonstrate something you are passionate about with creative, engaging and unique content. With a lot of time, hard work and persistence, followers should come naturally. There are no shortcuts but there are a few things you can do to speed up your follower growth.
Develop a loyal and engaged following by actively engaging with your existing audience and contributing to the larger Instagram community. This means replying with genuine comments and pro-actively engaging with the wider Instagram community with meaningful comments. Be consistent with your posting times, the kind of content you post and your tone of voice. Give your followers the chance to get to know you with behind the scenes (BTS) content in your Instagram stories.
Some influencers were fast-tracked to fame because they became a suggested user on Instagram. This means Instagram follows you and for two weeks you become a recommended account to follow for new Instagram users.
For more on how to become a successful influencer, hear from a Vamp fashion influencer >
Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to cheat the system. If you buy followers or use bots you might think you are taking the easy road. Taking a fake it until you make it approach might seem like a short cut but it’s not smart. Definitely not the key to success. Brands are now using technology to identify influencers with fake followers. Influencer marketing platforms like Vamp pre-vet influencers to ensure their followers are genuine.
Step 2: How to become an influencer and build your engagement
Your engagement rate can be calculated by this simple equation:
(The number of likes and comments / No. of followers) x100
So if you had 500 likes, 50 comments and 5000 followers this is how your engagement rate is calculated:
(550 / 5000) x100 = 11% engagement rate
The Instagram benchmark for engagement rate is 3%. This is a good benchmark to aim for.
One way of knowing whether someone has got fake followers is if their engagement rate is low.
If you are accepted into the Vamp platform your average engagement rate is displayed for you to see.
You can increase your follower engagement by building a community. Ask your followers questions in your caption copy, use Instagram stories to engage your followers on a one-on-one basis, send DMs to new and old followers. You can track your engagement analytics if you have an Instagram business account. Analyse what content your followers are engaging with most and use this knowledge to plan your content calendar.
Step 3: Develop a personal brand
To know how to become an influencer you also need to prioritise develoing your own personal brand. Your personal brand is everything and will help you to stand out from the crowd.
Most of the time people like to know what they can expect from you and a strong personal brand will make you more likely to maintain follower loyalty.
Here are two examples of influencers with a powerful personal brand.
Building a personal brand: things to consider
- Find a niche and stick with it. Rather than trying to be fashion, art, foodie and travel all in one neat package, create a consistent message. The same goes for photography styles. If you want to be the flatlay expert and this is what people follow you for, stick to this at least 80% of the time. There are some really successful accounts that keep to one consistent element and experiment with different variables in their imagery to see how their audience responds.
- Ensure your Instagram highlights feature the kind of content you post and the stories people can expect to see. Utilise the bio to best display your tone of voice and content.
- The top nine posts on your feed displaying on your profile should always show the best content. Don’t be afraid to delete or archive posts if it messes up the clean aesthetic of your feed (as long as a brand hasn’t paid for that piece of content to sit on your feed of course).
- Have a consistent aesthetic in your feed and across all social channels.
- Feature products relevant to your Instagram narrative that you genuinely like.
- What’s your influencer tone of voice? How do you communicate in an engaging way with your followers?
- How often do you post? Successful accounts post regularly without spamming their audience. How regularly you should post on Instagram depends entirely on your audience but once or twice a day at peak posting time is usually the sweet spot.
Step 4: How to be an authentic influencer
To be an authentic influencer you have to be genuine, build trust and respect your followers as well as the brands you work with. Be candid in your posts and encourage your followers to respond by asking questions in your posts.
There are many versions of our authentic selves that we share with the world. Our work self might, for example, be different to the version of ourselves we share with our friends, or our grandparents. Each is true in a different way to you and how you interact with the world. Equally your social media profiles should be authentic to you.
The way you talk about a product shouldn’t come across as a hard sell either. This is not what influencer marketing is all about. Lifestyle based product placement will always out-perform product endorsement.
People like influencers because they are perceived as more trustworthy than brands trying to sell them stuff or big name celebrities. So it’s simple. Only recommend products to your followers if you genuinely like that product or brand. It can be tempting to say yes to every opportunity that comes your way initially in order to get started. A more sustainable, authentic approach in the long term is to say no more than you say yes to opportunities.
Don’t allow your Instagram feed to be filled up completely with brand promotions. Make time to create organic content in between paid posts. Authenticity builds trust and that is one of your most valuable commodities as an influencer.
Step 5: How to win work with brands
Brands will want to work with you if you tick the boxes of what they expect in their influencer partnerships. This can vary from brand to brand, depending on their objectives. The key points that most brands are looking for are:
- High quality content – invest in a good camera and learn how to use it by doing a course, reading blogs and watching YouTube tutorials. There are so many free resources online, including the Vamp blog. Here’s an extract from our guide to buying a new camera.
“Before choosing a camera, it’s best to know how you’re planning to use it. Will you be shooting landscapes? Street style selfies? Food flatlays? If you know you like to shoot a certain way, get a camera that makes what you do easier to do. If you’re shooting selfies, a good phone camera is probably all you need. If you shoot landscapes where you want full control over your settings, then a DSLR makes sense. Fast shutter speeds are essential if you plan to shoot action or sports, and cameras that handle low lighting situations well would come in handy when shooting events. Know how you plan to use your camera so you can prioritise the features you need the most.”
- Followers – build a genuine following of like-minded people who will love your content. Get a business account and be prepared to share your business analytics if brands want to see them. If your posts are performing well it helps them to justify spending more money on work with you so a win-win for both parties. Brands often request to only work with influencers with a business account; read this article on why you should make the switch to an Instagram business account.
- Engagement – brands want to see your followers engaging with your content. Ask questions in your captions and ensure you respond to every single comment. Thank people when they follow you and try to get to know them a bit better so you can know what content they will like best. Post at the times of day your profile will get the most amount of traffic. Delete accounts that look like bots as they follow you to maintain a high engagement.
- Similar aesthetic – brands with a similar aesthetic to yours will be more likely to choose to work with you because this will help send the message they want to your followers and their potential customers.
- Professionalism – This is the cherry on top. Brands want to know that you will follow their brief, respond in a prompt and professional manner to e-mails and conduct yourself well when posting about their content. Here’s how to build a great reputation as an influencer and get repeat work.
To become a successful influencer takes a lot of work but hopefully after reading this you feel that this is a passion you are inspired to pursue. Ultimately what you put in will be what you will get back. After all, if creating content is something you are passionate about, you will flourish. Being an influencer involves the ultimate combination of creativity and strategy; community and individuality. You might have opportunities to work with some of the world’s best brands who look to you to spread the word and inspire action. And, in turn, you will continue developing into a very smart marketer.
Makers gonna make.
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