What is a social media influencer, anyhow?

SMI (Social Media Influencers) – Who are They?

🥋If you're looking for influencer services from Dear Mishu, click here

There are a lot of misunderstandings about who can be considered an SMI (that stands for “Social Media Influencer” — a term/acronym I coined in 2019). First – take note:

Not Always Famous

An influencer does NOT need to be very famous, or at least not necessarily… In fact, most SMIs are known to their community but are unknown to the public, here are some examples:

Influencers but not public celebs - some examples
Most influencers are not public celebs – some examples.

Influencers do NOT need to be very famous person or one who poses like they are…or at least not necessarily… :

Who IS an influencer? A lot of people in the media think of photos like this as a symbol of influencers... that ain't right and is quite offensive!
A lot of people in the media think of photos like this as representing influencers… that isn’t right!

That’s right, you can be an influencer without being or acting like a supermodel.

So what *does* make someone an “Influencer”? Today, the way I see it, based on my experience working in this field with my Dear Mishu, here is the tl;dr:

Social Media Influencer (SMI) is:
(1) Someone who owns a social media account (min. 50 followers), such as on Tiktok, IG, YouTube, etc.

And – very important too –

(2) Uses it for great – no, amazing – relationship building AND/OR content sharing with their followers.

Let me dissect that, point by point.

Condition No. 1: Someone who owns a social media account

While in the past famous writers, singers, religious or political leaders could be called “Influencer,” today you must own at least one social media account (min. 50 followers), such as on Tiktok, IG, YouTube, etc. to be considered as an influencer by the new generation. Furthermore, most of your thinking, your story-telling, your love and hates should be communicated frequently to your followers through that social media account.

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Your followers – in return – can’t wait to hear from you, and hence check what you’ve got to say frequently, some daily, some a few times a day, just to hear your voice, and to try to converse with you too.


Condition No. 2: Great relationship with their followers

Ask an experienced marketer, businessperson, fundraiser, community manger or even academic – building relationships is so important! It’s no different with SMI – they become SMI when they use their social media account for great – no, amazing – relationship building, almost on a daily basis and are on a first name basis with their followers.

Being this type of SMI can be demanding – SMI must go one by one and reply to their followers’ direct messages or comments on their posts, spending a few hours a day, because engagement brings those good relationships.


But not all SMI are into socializing, which makes them great at only one thing:

And/Or Content Creation

This type of SMI use their social media account to share extraordinary content, created by them. What is extraordinary content, you ask? How good is the content I can expect to get from an SMI?

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You can expect to get original, natural, native, not-intrusive content (versus typical ads that are so intrusive!). The content should also be interesting, impactful, deep, not-salesy, intriguing, super interesting and come from a unique point of view, with great attention to detail, and be native to the platform. Nothing less than that. 

Source: How Good is the Content I Can Expect to Get From Influencers?

If you create great, amazing content, this is defined as “CONTENT CREATION” and makes someone an SMI who is also a “digital creator” or “content creators.” This type of person is very much in demand too, because their content is so valuable, even if the voice they speak with is so different from your brand, it can be extremely powerful. Partnering with them can bring turn around a brand, if you hire them. Here are some examples:

  • sibylline_m's profile picture sibylline_m But what if the Sword chooses a Queen? ⚔️ Illustration for @Netflix's new show "@Cursed"
  • nicole | petite style & travel on Instagram: “Yes or no: Working from home is more fun from bed. 🛌 If you're WFH, what's your setup like? Office? Sofa? Bed? Kitchen counter? 👩🏼‍💻 [ad]…”
  • I don't know if these are 'authentic' or not, but they're adorable the way they're posing and I can't imagine the love they're showing isn't real.
  • Case Study: A great Facebook Micro-Influencer that bring customers to a potty training book
  • Alexa N - Great #macroinfluencer!
  • Great mom micro-influencer!
  • Social media influencers find original ways to engage their audiences - an example.
  • Social media influencers find original ways to engage their audiences - an example.
  • Dear Mishu Micro-Influencer Services - Work Examples

You can have influence or create great content to become SMI. If you have content AND influence then you are a super-SMI!

Bonus – Types, How To Communicate, Payments, Contract, and More

36 Hats (!!) that Influencers Wear
36 Hats (!!) that Influencers Wear

LMK your questions… and btw, no, you don’t need to be authentic to become an SMI…

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I strongly recommend using a contract for any sponsorship to protect yourself and your business, such as my Brand-Influencer Contract

What Influencers Bring to the Table: dialogue, attention, community building, category leading, positive bias, high level story-telling, etc.
What young Influencers Bring to the Table…


If It Can’t Be Transactional, Then What Am I Getting from Influencer Marketing at All?

Sincerely yours,

Dear Mishu's Dad

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SMI* = Social Media Influencers

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I am the creator of Dear Mishu, a dog character that gives underdog advice to humans on social media. I originally built the account to learn about influencers and how they work. Over time, the account grew and Dear Mishu became a real social media influencer with a community of followers who ask her for advice. I use this experience and my 20 years of marketing experience to help brands understand how to reach their goals through Influencer Marketing and Social media branding.