While in today’s social climate, the term “influencer” might seem like a negative term, the fact is that all of us that use social media are influenced by people on a daily basis. So, really, what is an influencer?
In the most basic terms, an influencer is someone who affects decisions that people make about what to buy or consume because of their perceived authority or knowledge of the product or service.
Originally, influencers were limited to celebrities, because there was no internet or social media for the masses to gather. But the world has changed drastically in the last decade, and now almost anyone can (or might try to) be an influencer.
What does an influencer do?
By nature, the work of an influencer is to share products, services, etc. with an audience and convince them to buy.
This could be done via a blog, YouTube channel, social media account, on television, or simply by being “seen” with the products.
Being an influencer can be natural and flow easily, or could feel forced and fake, depending on your experience and intentions.
How many followers do you need to be an influencer?
You might think you need tens or hundreds of thousands of followers or subscribers to be an influencer, but it actually can depend widely on the niche you have.
If you wanted to be an influencer of large fashion brands and compete with celebrities, then a very large following may be necessary.
But there are many other areas in which you can influence people’s buying decisions. For example, say you have knowledge and experience with a specific allergy diet, and others look to you for help. You might not need many followers because the ones you have will be very engaged in the helpful information you are providing for them. In a case such as this a few hundred may be enough.
What does it mean to “be” an influencer?
The most obvious thing you might think of when you think someone is an influencer is how popular they are on social media, and this is partially true. But how many followers they have is not a real indication of how much “influence” they actually have.
Influence can mean they persuade people to buy a product or service or take a particular action. As an observer, it may be hard to gauge this level of influence.
Being an influencer in today’s terms not only means you persuade people to do something, but that you benefit from it. How? It could be free product or it could be affiliate sales or sponsorships or ad placement or any number of financial arrangements.
Does it feel weird to think that someone could be paid for this? Just think about the amount of time they spend creating the content and engaging with their followers. Whether they blog, post on social media or create videos, this is a lot of work, often a full-time job. Most people could not do this without getting paid.
How to be a responsible influencer
Whether you want to think about yourself as an influencer or simply an educator, we like to think there are a few basic “rules” to help you not only be successful but also feel proud of what you do.
First and foremost is to do everything with honesty and integrity. You don’t have to be an expert to share, but be honest about your knowledge and people will appreciate that.
When you share products, be sure they are things you have used and that you truly love. It’s easy to get caught up in sharing because of the offer of payment, but in the long run, you’ll make more money if you establish with your audience that every share is truly authentic.
And always remember to share a good balance of free to paid content. You will create the best connection with your audience by offering them a ton of value every day. This will feel like working for free in the beginning, but will pay dividends in the long run.