Have you ever scrolled through your social media feeds and noticed the large followings that seemingly ordinary, everyday people have?
These individuals, known as social influencers, produce content for thousands of engaged followers who are interested in what they do, what they wear and who they hang out with. Their opinions on products and places carry a lot of weight with these followers, and brands are willing to pay influencers a lot of money to promote products because of that.
It may sound like a dream job that's too good to be true, but through patience and hard work, becoming a paid social media influencer is within your reach. Jason Shuman, chief of staff for influencer marketing platform Julius, offered the following advice for anyone looking to cash in on the power of influence.
1. Immerse yourself in your passions, but do it authentically.
Every single one of today's social influencers started out the same way: They built an authentic connection to what they're passionate about and, in turn, became experts.
Whatever your passion is – food, beauty, art, music, fashion, etc. – you should immerse yourself in products, post reviews, attend events and trade shows, meet with experts, and post other aspects of your organic lifestyle, said Shuman. You need to eat, sleep, live and breathe this lifestyle for it to truly resonate with your followers.
It's also important to follow other experts, personalities, talent and brands in your chosen area of expertise to see what kinds of content they're producing.
As you're building up your image as an expert, Shuman cautioned against losing personal integrity. There is a fine line between being offering advice and promoting products, people and ideas – and becoming "spam." Your followers will know the difference, and you will lose their trust.
2. Diversify your feeds.
Syncing your social media feeds (i.e., sending out the same posts on every one of your networks at once) can be an easy way to save time, but why would people follow you on Instagram if they can see the exact same thing on your Facebook page or Twitter feed? Some cross-promotion is fine, but Shuman advised trying to share different messages and strike different notes on your channels to ensure that you're sharing different content in different ways so people keep getting value and coming back.
3. Understand your growth potential – and your potential obligations.
Shuman believes there is a huge amount of growth and earnings potential for influencers.
"We're only in the beginning stages of this movement," Shuman said. "With social tools becoming more advanced and social media sites more addictive with content and discovery, you're going to see more and more brands tapping influencers to play a role in their marketing strategies."
So how much can you expect to earn when you've reached influencer status? It really depends on the influencer, said Shuman. Brands want someone with a high level of follower engagement. Most pricing models are structured one of three ways:
- A flat campaign fee
- A per-post charge
- Cost per engagement (you are paid per engagement with the post)
However, you'll want to fully understand what the brand sponsor is asking you to do before you agree to it.
"If an influencer usually posts twice a day and a brand is asking her to post 10 times per day, she will lose credibility with her followers, or be viewed as too spammy," said Shuman. "People will unsubscribe and she will become less respected and, therefore, less valuable."
4. Stick with it.
Social media influencing is a process. Establishing a voice, generating a following and then attracting attention from brands takes time. Be patient, stick with it and be yourself, advised Shuman.
"Let your followers into your daily life," he added. "The more that people feel they can relate to you, the more they will trust you, which leads to more engagement, and turns you into a more effective and desirable influencer to both consumers and brands alike."