These days, no matter whether you are on Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube, there are hundreds of Social Medial Influencers. A Social Media Influencer is a user on social media who has established credibility in a specific industry. A social media influencer has access to a large audience and can persuade others by virtue of their authenticity and reach.
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We’ve all see people on social media with a hundred thousand followers and wondered, how in the world did they get so popular? They’re certainly experts, and are good with their words, but there’s often nothing spectacular about them. Given enough time to research and draft material, you could probably create content comparable to theirs, and your expertise might even rival theirs. So what did they do to achieve this level of popularity and authority?
These people are generally known as Social Media Influencers, and they’re a crucial component of influencer marketing (an entire suite of tactics designed to gain influence, followers, and authority by working with more popular people). But if you’re interested in becoming an influencer in your own right, or you want to know how these influencers rose to such a position of power, you might be curious about what sets them apart. Obviously, they put in extra work and have more experience than the average Joe. But beyond that, there are a few secrets that most influencers don’t publicise:
1.) It always starts small:
There are some scant exceptions to this rule. For example, the first day Warren Buffett opened a Twitter account, he had 60,000 followers in an hour, and more than 100,000 in two hours. However, in this scenario, you need to consider that Warren Buffett was technically an influencer before he created a social media account. Everybody starts with zero followers and zero influence; that’s important to remember if you’re hesitant about trying to amass more followers, or if you can’t see your current influencer targets as anyone other than the rock stars of the present. Everyone is human, everyone makes mistakes, and everyone starts out unpopular.
2.) Steady streams provide a foundation:
One of the most important keys to amassing a following is providing a steady stream of content – even more than providing perfect content or new content 100% of the time. Obviously, your content should all be high-quality, and as new and original as possible. However, you need to publish consistently if you want people to stick around and come to view you as an authority on a given subject.
3.) Individual interactions count:
Individual interactions are vital and very important in any social media strategy. Why? Because people like to feel like they matter. Rather than broadcasting to a giant group of people all at once, focus on answering individual questions, or replying to content created by individuals in your core following. If they feel listened to, valued, and respected, they’ll probably become much more loyal to you – and encourage their friends and followers to follow you as well. Every individual wants to be heard. Be seen. Feel like they matter. Hence the reason Social Media Giants have become so popular.
4.) 20% of your followers:
The Pareto principle is a general rule that dictates that roughly 80% of your results will come from 20% of your inputs. In the context of social influencers, about 20% of your followers will be responsible for 80% of your growth; these will be the evangelists spreading the word about your presence, sharing your content, and supporting you. Keep an eye out for these rare followers as they join you, and make sure they feel welcomed and appreciated.
Influencer Marketing is one of the most exciting new developments in brand communication. A local influencer at the bottom end of the scale can earn R500 per month, but one with international influence can earn more than R50,000 per month from their content. This is a key indicator of an industry that’s remarkably bigger than it was even one year ago, and is showing no sign of stopping any time soon.
Clerissa Visser, digital content strategist at Cape Town digital consultancy Platinum Seed, recently told Business Insider that South African “influencers” earn between R500 and R10,000 from a single Instagram post. She added: “You may find yourself at 2,000 to 5,000 followers and already making a small-but-steady cash-flow with a brand that values the people you speak to and your skill at speaking to them. “However, you will generally find that bigger brands in more competitive industries, such as fashion, for example, where almost every second Capetonian has an on-again, off-again fashion blog, only really start to take notice when you have upwards of 10,000 followers,” said Visser.
The following Trends can be expected going into 2019 in the influencer marketing industry:
- In 2018 we saw the rise (and bit of a fall) of paid Twitter. In 2019, brands will be a lot more strategic in selecting micro-influencers on platforms like Twitter. They will focus less on the number of foot soldiers and more on micro-influencers on Twitter who are genuinely invested in the product, topic or conversation they’re driving.
- More authenticity is a trend we’re going to see well into 2019, with consumers consciously choosing influencers who resonate with them and who are relatable.
- It’s fairly accepted that influencers in South Africa are used on a per-campaign basis, but in 2019 we may very well see a shift in brand and influencer relationships beyond campaigns and into an always-on space. This is an interesting morph of the industry towards what would essentially be a digitised long-term brand endorsement model, and one with a much stronger sense of partnership and influencer buy-in.
Advice for SMEs wanting to work with influencers:
- Select influencers that reflect your brand purpose. This is how you achieve the authenticity that makes influencer marketing work.
- Vet your influencers to ensure that their content aligns to your brand and doesn’t result in a reputational risk. Your reputation is priceless – guard it with your life!
- Select influencers who can understand your business objectives and will help you meet them.