💁♂️Did you know that Brands are set to spend up to $23 billion on influencer marketing by 2024, up from $5.5. billion in 2019? Also 80-92% of marketers believe influencer marketing is effective, and 17% of marketers spend over 50% of their budget on influencer marketing?
Over the years working with my BFF @DearMishu and numerous influencers I’ve collected some insights and proven strategies and tips on how to become SMI* (and to get paid for it too). I intend to share that and — because of the fast changes in our industry — update it often in this blog post. Feel free to contact me with your questions if I haven’t answered them — OK?
1. Understand what is Influencer
Before you try to become SMI, it’s important to understand what it means:
- You must own a social media account (Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, etc.)
- You must have great, great relationships with your followers on that account
- You must create great content and/or influence
This means that you don’t need to have hundreds of thousands of followers, or to be a public celeb, to be SMI. It’s enough if you have a social media account where you influence, and/or create great content, with a great relationship with your followers!
Are you up to that? If so, let’s move on to discuss how to prep yourself mentally:
2. Mentally Prepare
There are many perks to being SMI: you can change the world (really, see the pic above!), everyone wants to hear from you, everyone wants to be your friend (some will become your BFF), everyone wants to build partnerships with you, everyone wants to send you free samples. You have found a way to give real value and to inspire many people, you get tons of love from many, and if you’re able to do it full time, you set your daily schedule by yourself! And… you can make money in the process!
💁♂️Did you know that small size influencers are paid $90-450/post, and when they grow they can earn thousands?
Know that – however – becoming SMI is very tough, especially mentally. Prepare yourself mentally for what is to come:
- It’s a lot of hard work, wearing many “hats” job (writing, illustrating, photographing, modeling, filming, community management, publishing, marketing, PR, etc).
- Most SMI work late hours
- Not everyone manages to make a living. The opposite is true.
- You will be “attacked” in a stereotypical way of being “entitled, spoiled, corrupt, unfair, a devil, and what not” (here are some ideas for answering those accusations: https://www.dearmishudad.com/criticized-being-influencer-how-respond/)
So why go down this route? Love, and passion are the key. Start only if you have the passion and start only if you are crazy about writing and inspiring.
In addition, if you are too proud to ask for a payment for your hard influence and/or content making work, perhaps you should not start down that career path. If you want to become a full-time SMI you’ll need make a living, right??
3. Commit to Engage
Engagement drives everything in the influence world, really. And when we say engagement we mean mainly on the comments of your posts. You need to encourage and find ways to get people to add comments, likes, and emojis, as well as re-share your posts.
It’s also imperative to engage with the engagers: when 37 of your followers leave a comment on your post, connect back with them – reply to them, acknowledge and respond to them. Many SMI take the time to learn about their followers lives and ask them questions, such as “how was your birthday,” “how’s your dad health,” — if you can reach that level of connection, you’ve got a BFF!
💁♂️ Serious influencers engage at least >3 hours/day, all week, all year.
Here are some cool engagement ideas:
4. Decide on Your Niche
It is proven by now that those that write around a niche topic can find more engagement and love.
Lets define niche first: in simple English, niche is something you are CRAZY about, and is unique and not necessarily everyone’s interest.
💁♂️ Niche is your “unfair advantage” – it’s an area for you and only you to excell in!
The niche should be something unique – so, yes, you probably CAN be one more lifestyle SMI, but to be in a better position, find a sub sub sub-category in that category…
Below are common categories, and an example how “to niche” them (you don’t need to limit yourself):
|FOOD||Eating futurist candies|
|TRAVEL||Traveling with my small size dog to breweries|
|LIFESTYLE||Accompanying moms to hipster shops|
|FASHION||Dressing exactly as today’s fashion, 100 years ago.|
|TECH*||EU golf android applications|
|BEAUTY||Puppies’ eye colors|
|SPORTS||Upcoming Aussie soccer players in Canada|
|HEALTH AND FITNESS||Going to gyms in China at 5 am|
|GAMING||Indi WW7 games|
💁♂️ Our research found out that there is a huge shortage in tech engineers among B2B influencers, so that’s a good niche:
Most people have niche, they just don’t know it. Analyze what you’ve written so far and what made people listen – that’s probably it. Another method: where are the other SMI in your niche? You probably don’t want to be there…
There are no limits to the type of connections you can build with followers in your niche: you can laugh with them, cry with them, you can be interesting or boring, nice, obnoxious, gross or polite, you can care or not care – just find your niche. There is a community to be built for EVERYTHING, and the beauty is – the community you’ll build will accept you the way you are.
5. Define Your Audience Persona
Who is your target audience? It’s not important where they live and their age as much as what are their emotional triggers (people change their opinions and are influenced based on emotions, and then they rationalize it with different reasoning).
Who are the people behind the screens of computer/phone who you want to connect to and what are their feelings, emotions, hesitations, concerns, challenges….
For e.g., if your target audience consists mostly of business executives and marketers, you’ll probably want to get crazy with a sub-business niche (or something that biz executives will be intrigued by?), and your platform to be LinkedIn:
6. Choose Your Social Media Channels
Instagram? Twitch? TikTok? YouTube? Facebook? Linkedin? (full list is here) – which one will you choose? Pick one or two usually, no more, and that’s because otherwise you will probably exhaust yourself trying to keep up, plus you will not have time to answer your followers’ messages (see more about that below) and will loose your influence as a result.
The lions share of SMI have TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook as their preferred platform, but it doesn’t mean you should. That’s because your audience might not be there.
Passion is a key here too: you are going to spend many hours, every day on your chosen platform. Let’s say Twitter – if you are not crazy about Twitter, if you are not enjoying being on Twitter, it will show, and you will not succeed there.
And it applies to social media in general – many hate it. If you don’t love it, it will show, and you might as well focus on something else you love to do.
💁♂️If you see a new social media platform coming, it would be great to jump on it. It might present a new opportunity for you, with much less competition and a lot of excitement as it grows!!
7. Design Your Look & Feel
Visuals are super important in social media. Why? Because when people see your post they look first at the image, not the text. This is how you get people to give you more than a few seconds of their attention.
With this in mind, which visual will you choose? Animation? Static? Video? Which colors? Think of visuals that will differentiate you from others, or at least bring your messages in the best way.
8. Consider Your Writing Style
Once you’ve decided on your niche, decide on your words strategy: Long or short-form text? Cursing or not (it’s ok to curse if that’s what you plan to do)? Use of religious or gendered language or not? Talking politics or not? Etc.
9. Create Your Bio
Your social media bio should dress for your success. This means an excellent picture, your unique brand hashtag, a minimum of 2 general hashtags, your (very interesting, worth telling, with some keywords) story, and a CTA (call-to-action).
💁♂️Update your Bio often, for example, “I’m working on a new app for Cholera fighting” or “In Jerusalem now, writing my 3rd book”
Related: How your influencer bio should look
10. Investigate and Choose Hashtags
A hashtag is simply a keyword phrase, spelled out without spaces, with a pound sign (#) in front of it. For example, #WeWantSpace, #DearMishu and #PetsOfInsta
It’s the way SMI, as well as other users, as well as the social channel itself, index the content.
You may choose hashtags because you like them, but you’ll also want to gain influence over those hashtags eventually, which means – in simple English – when someone does a search for those hashtags, your posts should be on top (that does not happen immediately, wait > 3 months to start measuring)!
Choose as many hashtags as allowed by your channel (eg Instagram allows a max 0f 30). The hashtags should be:
- 1 special for your own activity only (eg #Nike or #DearMishu)
- a few general hashtags
- and the rest – what so called “long-tail” – i.e. hashtags that have been used less than 1/2 million times
11. Be a Community Manager
Before you get those 4.5 million followers, and get social, make sure that every new follower is highly likely to stay with you, engage with you, and that they are invested in you, and that they are not fake. Make sure that they will help you to increase your engagement rate to >2%, which is what is needed to be considered an SMI by social channels.
12. Stay Consistent
Almost all SMI agree that if there is something to agree about, it is that persistence is the key. Never give up – keep it going, be consistent, work work work, publish & engage, publish & engage, publish & engage, over a long time… don’t give up!
13. Constantly Evaluate and Refine
Schedule a monthly or bi-monthly task where you will evaluate your progress.
Most social platforms make tools available for you with insights and analytics of your activities as a creator, like reach, impressions, engagement rates, demographics, etc. They will let you see your daily/weekly/monthly progress, and that’s cool, this step is crucial, it will show you if you are scoring or not.
Testing is also highly recommended. Build several posts and alternatives, show it to your audience, and see the engagement coming out from it. And again, it should be something you are crazy about, something you are willing to work on 365 days a year for many years — so you better love your choices.
💁♂️If you tested something, and the results were not appealing, and you suddenly hate it, it’s really ok to delete it
💁♂️ Screenshot any good news progress. This will be of a good value when negotiating an endorsement/collab deal with the brand of your choice
14. Let Brands Know You’re Open
Once you see a positive insights, and that you are on your way to success, let brands that are very related to what you do know that you are opened for business.
Invite them to collab, which usually means that: you create IGC (influencer generated content), or influence for them, and they – in return – pay you for that work.
💁♂️ Sign a clear contract before starting any collabs
💁♂️ Always have your eyes on the ball: represent only brands that you love, and that are related to what you do. Otherwise, it won’t come across as truthful, and you will disappoint your community with that choice
15. Tools to Use
Multi tools such as Adobe Spark, Canva and Instagram Layout can help you with the design for your posts. It’s recommended that you to build a template, based on the visuals you decided on, for uniformity of design. I will write a dedicated post on those tools in a few weeks.
To conclude, we do recommend that you work to become SMI (a good one), and to enjoy the perks when you can. One that aims not just for quantity but for quality of content. Secure plenty of time and energy to cultivate what YOU think makes an amazing social media account where you influence, and/or create great content, with great great relationships with your followers. For that, spend most of your time creating and engaging and never give up. You can do it!
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 content with high engagement
SMI* = Social Media Influencers