In this piece I answer the question: “I am a blogger and I want to become a social media influencer as well. How can I do that exactly?” The following answer is based on my talk at the Type-A Parent bloggers conference, and my experience with Dear Mishu, the social media influencer account I created.
What is a Social Media Influencer?
Before you can become a social media influencer, it’s important to understand just what makes someone an influencer.
An Influencer is two things: (1) someone who owns a social media account (Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc) AND (2) has GREAT, fantastic relationships with their followers.
Types of Influencers
From the estimated amount of 98 million social media influencers, there are three main types of influencer: Mega, Macro and Micro-influencers. Only the Mega are known to the public (most fashion and beauty journalists confuse them with all influencers!). That means that all others – thousands and thousands – are not well known, yet make up most of the influencers.
One benefit – see the payment row on the table above – of growing your account size is that you can earn more per post as an influencer.
OK – now let’s cut to the chase. I want you to understand how social media influencing differs from blogging and what you need to do to become a successful social media influencer. I’m going to go over seven different areas, starting with … Platforms!
The first step in becoming an Influencer is to choose your platform(s).
Many ask which platform to choose. My answer is – of course – where your audience is. For example, if your target audience are boys who play and video their soccer games every Tuesday afternoon, then most chances you’ll need to be on YouTube and maybe Tik Tok.
However — choose only the platform that you are absolutely CRAZY about and comfortable with! Otherwise – if you don’t like the platform, it will sho … Influencers spend a minimum of three hours a day engaging and publishing on social media, and if you don’t have passion for the platform you will be mentally and physically exhausted.
Inside a Billboard
Next – think of your social media as a billboard, a billboard that will expire shortly (because the algorithm will show the post only momentarily, unless it picks-up engagement fast). But — this is a billboard that you can charge* for using!
*NO ONE EXPECTS to get a highway billboard for free – so why do marketers so often expect influencers to work for free?
Before you get carried away collecting new followers on your way to social media influencer status, a few words of advice and warning…:
- Unlike a blog, don’t think SEO! Your job isn’t just to be found. Instead, focus on making something worth talking about!
- Add only followers who will REALLY invest in you, your topic, and – very important for closing future endorsement deals – the brands you’ll represent.
- Followers count/number is not the key because – as we’ve found – big accounts do not necessarily equal big influence or great content.
- Community building – Influencers are community builders! They build communities around a topic (usually a niche one, such as “pumpkins“), and join followers (=community members) for fascinating dialogue around that topic. And it’s (usually) beautiful to see. When you add a follower to your social account, think community.
- Engagement – this topic is so important that I created a whole section about it:
Eat. Sleep, Engage.
Social media engagement drives EVERYTHING (PR, company image, even sales!). Therefore, serious influencers engage all day long, all week, for many many hours….
Here are examples of influencer engagement – as you can see, it’s intensive. Many followers want your close attention and smaller influencers can provide that. Get ready for that…
There are many ways and tools to measure engagement. I like the practical ones, such as… :
Pro tip 1:
If your average engagement rate <2% then you’ll be under the radar (of the platform algorithm and influencer-brand matching tools/marketplaces).
No matter how many times the algorithm is modified by Instagram, Tiktok etc, accounts with lots of comments will always benefit. So:
✌ Stick with followers who care
✌ Double down on influencers with high engagement
At this stage I know what you will be asking – HOW, how to get the engagement??
Testing testing testing…
Testing… test everything you can: all kind of photography, video and sounds, length of paragraphs, colors, use of words, attitude, CTA (call-to-actions), all kinds of attitudes (especially ones that bring emotional connection, such as humor, love, humiliation, humility, cursing, crashing, etc…), until you see what brings engagement with the community you are building.
Bloggers are content people, no doubt about that. Content by social media influencers – though – is different:
Compelling visuals = Attention Grabbing Photos
Its pretty obvious – photography and video – should have compelling visuals right out front on your social media post/billboard. This is how you get people to give you more than a few seconds.
You only have a few words to get your point across on social media because:
- When we’re on social media we don’t want to read a lot per post, otherwise it will take us more than a day to read all our friends posts…
- There is a text limitation – 2,200 characters on Instagram, for example.
Nevertheless, I’ve seen some influencers who write/inspire with 3 and even 4 long paragraphs, with great results. Sophia_Roe with the great curly hair, is a great example of long form writing. Here’s an example. Can you see how she combines great photos and text that shows that she really cares about the community she’s building?
Combine Great Photos and Text
dear everyone, particularly wellness practitioners and/or those working in the wellness arenaSophia_Roe
According to a study done by the U.S Department of Agriculture more than 30 million people lack access to a grocery store within 5 miles of their home. To even call the places people do have access to “grocery stores” is laughable. Almost 100% of these areas are low-income minority, as well as rural communities. These areas have 30% more convenience stores, liquor stores, and fast food restaurants..and trust me..THAT IS ON PURPOSE.
But to call these places, “food deserts” simply isn’t enough. The word “desert” implies these communities have surrendered to living unhealthy. That is simply NOT TRUE. These communities are as resilient, and as elastic as any other community. To be honest, probably MORE SO. You won’t find fancy supplement stores, collagen powders, and/or boutique infrared saunas—but you will find community gardens, auntie’s and uncles’ growing tomatoes out of old plastic water jugs, community cookouts dishing out enough food to make sure the elders have leftovers, and plenty of callused hands.
This is a message to those who tout rhetoric such as, “if it’s not certified organic, it’s poisoning you.” “if you don’t get a lymphatic drainage massage weekly, you’re a walking septic tank.” “If you’re not taking a million and one supplements, than your body isn’t living up to it’s potential”—the list goes on. A reminder that even being able to take the train to the farmers market is a PRIVILEGE. Being able to live a plant-based lifestyle is a PRIVILEGE. Having a choice in what you eat, IS A PRIVILEGE.
The communities that don’t have access to tinctures, tonics, boutiques spas etc don’t need demonizing or criticism..THEY NEED RECOGNITION. They’re mostly without access, and are filled with some of the most beautiful humans I have ever laid my eyes on. If you’re in the wellness arena.. A reminder—it isn’t your job to scare, judge, or criticize. It’s your job to LOVE, SUPPORT, EDUCATE, AND ASSIST in establishing protocols for ALL PEOPLE..not just folks who can afford buying organic spinach solid in plastic.
I love you no matter what, don’t forget❤️
Niche & Community
I’ve learned from my Dear Mishu that it’s easier for someone to influence when they build a community around a NICHE. So – for Mishu – she is an advice columnist for humans, from a dog’s prospective. That’s a niche, right?
Another example – Maggie, of onceuponpumpkins, who writes-inspires about pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins all day long.
We’ve found out that influencers – even more than bloggers – are best at storytelling. Focus your social media posts on story-telling that brings an emotional connection and you’ll do great!
A story is not what it used to be, though. To understand, here is an example of what I call a story in today’s world of acceptance and excitement:
Good brand story-telling helps lead your audience (and customers too) to good decisions.
While bloggers might do explicit promotions on their sites, social media influencers are not supposed to do any hard pushy sales. Here is an example –
Jessica Marx is a Macroinfluencer who was asked to endorse Chobani:
As you can see (above), Alison is not doing an aggressive sale at all – there is no “BUY NOW” or “Get a 50% off Coupon” or “promotion will expire tonight” nonsense – she just brings great emotions and vibes of beauty and a real desire to eat a good (Chobani ,of course) yogurt breakfast.
For those that haven’t figured it out, if you prepare content that is related to what you are CRAZY about, and focus on that for your social media content, then not only will your followers admire that, but (especially if you become a leader in that sub-category) brands that are related to that topic will court you. It’s much easier in many ways to get that visibility on social media than on a blog!
No need authenticity!
You might have heard that authenticity is everything for influencers. Well, I’ve found out that authenticity has nothing to do with influence. Just focus on a topic you are crazy about, create a community around that and… your community will accept you the way you are, no matter what!
Prep for Endorsements
Not surprisingly, this is the part bloggers love the most: preparing for brand endorsements. After all, you work hard, most days through the evening, and that’s how you might pay the bills (you can also pay the bills in different ways, btw).
To help you navigate the ins and outs of getting paid for social media endorsements, I share with you the four types of customers you might encounter:
Four Types of Customers
“Check” – those customers that heard that hiring influencers is “a must,” and added that as a task on their to-do list, a task to “check” off when completed and no more. The task is to “check” the task! These might bring you business, but since they’re not serious they might invest what they need to see results.
Admirer – they contact you and from day one you can see they admire you – they admire your photography, your writing style, your career as an influencer, your energy, your hair, your emails, everything!!! They trust you MORE than 100% to do the influence job for them!
Results – unrealistic – for eg.: “I have 900 T-Shirts left (translation – I couldn’t sell…) in my NJ warehouse, please help me sell them immediately because you are famous.” Avoid these.
Results – realistic – example – “Bring me new followers, as I manufacture red shoes and I want to create a community similar to you – as a brand selling red shoes – on Insta.”
Which of the customer types would YOU like most to work with 🙂 ?
What Brands Expect from Influencers
To be able to provide a very good endorsement, one need to understand the expectations from your customers – the brands.
Brands expect many things – a lot of them can be done by various types of influencers and probably not all by same influencer:
Eight Things Brands Expect
- To influence for them (influence means change of opinion and not just posting to your audience)
- Great amazing content creation, as the brand may plan to reuse your writing.
- Attention is scarce these days. Influencrs are expected to bring attention to the brand from their followers and from anyone who will see your endorsement post.
- Trust is an important factor. Brands expect to gain trust from your hyper-targeted community, trust built on many hours spent on engagement, and excellent social proof.
- Brands expect you to bring an “unfair advantage” to the brand – the brand works hard at what they do, and so do their competitors. Having you on board should bring them an advantage over those competitors.
- Great story-telling – what I mean is – yes, of course you are good at telling your own story, but now it is the brand story that you’ll have to tell — in a fresh and impactful way that speaks to your audience.
- You are expected very often to be an expert in your field. For example, expert in flower arrangement, fixing pianos or iOT security in a certain city. This is especially, but not only, true in B2B if you want to be considered a “KOL” – Key Opinion Leader.
- Social media followers are the modern mailing list. Re-route some of your community members to the brands, they will appreciate it.
Endorsement – More Tips
1. Decide in advance on the direction you are going to take with your social media influencing:
– Your audience’s social media persona – which persona you prefer to target – soccer loving teenagers in Berlin or piano aficionados?
-Will you stand for something?
-Will you take any offer? Including “insert here” endorsements such as:
My name is Rubin. Please insert this: “VivaDog helps my dog [insert your name here] to walk in the dark and swim safely”[insert your name]
2. Prep templates for proposals, negotiations, rejections, and answers to interviews:
Once you become a successful, on-demand influencer, you will need to spend a large percentage of your time to fielding requests and marketing (which is a bummer – I know – we want to write content on social media, not email!) Solution: prepare templates! And once you are there, make those templates really useful and readable, and improve them constantly — colors, attitude, call-to-actions, etc.
Questions You Might Be Asked in an Interview
A serious customer will invite you for a (short hopefully) interview, usually via DM, email, Zoom or Skype, and will ask you questions.
Questions Serious Customers Ask
- “Show me where your content has been used” – the more you’ll have your amazing content posted – and not only on a website and social media – the better.
- “Do you love our product?” – brands want to know that you love their product, it’s really important for them, and for you, that you do, otherwise the endorsement won’t come across as trustworthy…
- “Have you ever promoted my competition?”
- “What’s your fee and why?” – prepare in advance the price range you’d like to charge and to have a reasonable, logical explanation for it. Attitudes may vary.
- “When is the best time to post to get engagement?” – know your stats…
- “Can I keep the creative?” – An experienced brand executive/owner knows that if they don’t get written consent to use the content you were hired to create for them, it will be illegal for them to use it. It is recommended – for good partnerships sake – to be generous – all the way, give them what they want. A happy customer is equal to hundreds of additional customers.
- “What is the best strategy?” – most brands really understand very little about social media influencing and marketing. Try to give useful strategies — make friends!
3. Brand-Influencer Contract
Important – see next section, or here:
4. Proactive during campaign: listen, comment, give attention…
So you made a deal with the brand to post next Tuesday at noon? BE THERE, to respond, to engage, to show your power as a community leader, all the way, take all the time in the world to do so, it’s what you’ve being hired for. Fast engagement will spike the platform algorithm and get the post more exposure.
It’s a good idea for the brand & influencer to sign a formal contract. It’s not because of suspicion, but because you want everything to be clear:
- Schedule: What’s the schedule for the post EXACTLY?
- Deadlines? Will a preview be made avail prior to posting?
- Ownership – Who owns the creative?
- Hashtags: ask the brand which hashtags should be included on your post(s). That should include the #Ad / #sponsored, required by the FCC — you want to do it in a legal way.
- Social channels: Which social channels will the endorsement be posted on? Instagram only or across the board: Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, etc.?
- Deletion: How long the post will stay up (some influencers expire sponsored posts shortly after posting them)?
- Payment details: Both parties should agree on payment details and and timelines of the payment.
- Etc….. There are many items to clarify… use the contract template I use (which is on Amazon now).
I strongly recommend using a contract for any sponsorship to protect yourself and your business, such as my Brand-Influencer Contract
Be on the lookout for the next new thing…
If you look closely, most super successful influencers were early adopters of new social media platforms and so – be on lookout for the new thing, you may even have meteoric success there too!
Social media influencing is different than blogging in focus, pace, attitude and readiness for big payouts. You can do it, if you work strategically as well as spend the time to build a community. You can do it — good luck!!
SMI* = Social Media Influencers