In the constantly evolving world of growth hacking and digital marketing, influencer marketing is a strategy that is here to stay. Having gained popularity as a concept in 2016, small and big businesses alike have been using influencers to generate leads and grow sales. Today, it is impossible to find an industry that does not use influencers as a legitimate marketing tool in an attempt to reach new audiences. By building a sizable and relevant fan base, these influencers share valid, relevant, and credible information that goes straight to the consumer.
Looking at it from the influencers’ side, this is a viable career option today. If you can build a loyal base of fans that trust you and respect your opinion enough to make purchases and decisions based on your word, brands and businesses will flock to you. Depending on your industry, expertise, core competency, and relevance, there has never been a better time to be an influencer.
However, this is only relevant if used appropriately and optimized to reach the customers it is supposed to. In this blog, we’ll take you through the steps you need to follow to become an ace influencer in your industry.
Choosing The Right Niche
As you embark upon your journey as an influencer, the first step is to identify your niche. The niche needs to be something that interests and excites you. It could be an industry you’ve worked in or have extensive knowledge about. It is essential to choose a differentiating factor that distances you from the rest of the pack.
To establish yourself, you will need to post a substantial amount of content which can only be accomplished through a deep understanding of the industry. Most successful influencers on the internet today are extremely passionate about what they do and it is this authenticity that genuinely resonates with the audience.
Based on your area of expertise, you will need to address the wants, needs, challenges, and goals of whom you consider to be your ideal consumer. The competitive space makes it challenging for someone to stand out by just being “the loudest voice in the room”, hence making it easier to just find a less crowded room.
If you have more than one interest, it helps to prioritize them and use the subsequent ones to supplement your main niche. Treat your content as a brand would and with the right values, you’ll be well on your way to influencing markets.
In an industry that is still in its nascent stages despite having grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, there is no “one size fits all approach” that is guaranteed to work. If you are an upcoming influencer, it is essential to set goals for yourself that are both ambitious and achievable. These include macro-level broad-based goals such as your messaging, ideology, and aesthetic along with micro-level intricate goals such as metrics, targeting, growth hacking, and keywords.
There are multiple ways to go about goal-setting as an influencer. The first is the Analogy approach. Here strategies are formulated based on observations from the past. By studying industry trends and successful campaigns, one can extrapolate what they think the customers would want from a certain post or campaign.
These goals have to be in line with the SMART metric – Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Should your goals meet these metrics, you’re on your way. Another approach to set goals is what Elon Musk refers to as the “First Principles Thinking” approach. Here, strategies are formulated based on objective fundamentals to open up new possibilities. This forces you to reject the status quo, thereby making you think independently.
By incorporating this strategy into your influencer persona, you can generate content that sets you apart from the pack and moves away from the norm. Going forward, audiences are going to be actively seeking new, exclusive, and different content to read and follow.
How Influencer Marketing Works Across Social Channels
This is the most crucial step in becoming an influencer. Sometimes you might do everything you need to in terms of creating content and crafting a story but it doesn’t get the desired engagement from the users on a particular channel. This simply means that the audience you are targeting with that post does not spend enough time on that platform, or the specific content isn’t viable on that platform. The phrase “being in the right place at the right time” has never been truer. It is virtually impossible to be a successful influencer if you don’t know where your niche audience hangs out on the internet.
Recent trends show that social media influencers are most successful on Instagram with almost 93% focusing on Instagram. That, however, does not mean that one cannot build a successful following on other platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Snapchat by carefully curating content. The basis of every social media platform is its user base, and by tapping into the psyche of what consumers seek from every platform it is possible to craft a successful influencer campaign. A few questions to ask yourself:
- Who is your target audience?
- Who are the other successful influencers within your niche?
- What type of content works on this platform?
Answer these three questions and you can confidently move ahead with your chosen strategy.
The Right Content For The Right Impact
Quality content when positioned correctly in an appealing format will always grab eyeballs. By combining valuable content with your voice and personality, you can create a balance that sits just right with your user base. Personalizing content based on your voice and your fans’ needs makes them feel special as well. The internet is overloaded with information and delivering relevance to a user is invaluable.
A fairly popular strategy while crafting content is the 5-3-2 strategy, where 5 pieces of content are from other sources but relevant to your communication (curation), 3 are generated by you specifically for your audience (creation) and 2 are personalized, fun content pieces that humanize your brand to your audience (humanization). When you post content that your fan base finds interesting, you are influencing them to make a decision, thereby staying true to the name of your profession. By slowly utilizing content to build trust, you can change your users’ mindset from merely ‘finding you’ to actively ‘seeking you’ out for valuable content.
A few foolproof techniques to help you craft great content are:
- Google-related search keywords
- Frequently asked questions on the internet
- Online community platforms such as Quora, for exploring a range of potential topics
Distribution And Promotion Of Content
A popular saying on the internet goes “Content is king, promotion is queen”. At least 20% of your time and effort should be dedicated to distributing your content to the right target audience. Meticulous planning with regards to timing, promotions, and media plans go a long way when it comes to seeing conversions with your content. Like all businesses, it is important to “work smart” rather than “work hard”. Different platforms come with their own set of rules, customers and needs, hence customization is essential.
By curating different themes for different channels, it is possible to build a persona where customers know it’s you with a single glance. Once they start identifying you, you can then create diversity within the guidelines of your brand proposition. While creating different content buckets, personalization helps users familiarize themselves with you.
It is crucial to constantly feed the demands of your growing fan base with content while simultaneously ensuring that your content does not come across as spam. The fine margin between constant content creation and personalized messaging is the biggest challenge for any social media influencer.
Finally, you must optimize your content for mobile reading. With the 2020 pandemic, adults will be spending an additional 23 minutes per day on their smartphones with 80% of the activity being social media usage. Hence, all content must be as inviting on mobile as it would be on a desktop.
Building A Loyal Fan Base And Garnering Followers
Almost all influencers start with little or no network and build from the ground-up. It is essential to constantly expand on your fan base – the wider your base, the more brands will trust you with their marketing. There are several proven methods to grow a follower base on social media:
- Blogs: From getting discovered to garnering loyalty, blogs are a great way to gain viewership. Some of the most popular internet influencers today began their journey with a humble blog. By creating exciting blogs that users can read and share on social media, your message can travel far and wide on the internet. Also, social media is a fickle space and any misstep can lead to one’s accounts being taken down. In such situations, having a bank of interesting, relevant blogs helps.
- Sponsored posts: An adage goes “you need to spend money to make money”. If you have the means to allocate a budget and offer premium content, more users gain access to you and your communication.
- Guest posts: Social media isn’t a zero-sum game. By networking with fellow influencers and building a community where you can leverage off of each other, you can collaborate to share a fan base and establish reliability, thereby creating an online economy of scope.
Engaging With The Community To Gather Data
Just like any relationship, being an influencer with followers is a two-way street – your followers like to be appreciated and given attention. You must connect with your followers by engaging, acknowledging, and responding to them regularly.
The benefits of this are two-fold. On one hand, they feel valued and appreciate your sincerity, while on the other hand you get a better understanding of your loyal fans and can thereafter create content based on their feedback.
It is necessary to remember that social media is a democracy and all comments are a combination of positive and negative. Your responses should address your fans’ concerns by either acknowledging them or explaining your point of view. Ignoring user comments is the worst thing an influencer can do. Sometimes even a simple “like” on a fan’s comment should suffice.
Another easy way to communicate is to make sure your stories are interesting and interactive by adding features like Polls that allow viewers to engage with your content. By asking a question or starting a conversation, you can interact with them directly over topics of mutual interest and build stronger connections.
Data Analysis And Growth Tracking
While targeting is an important part of building a sustainable and loyal fan base on social media, it is essential to evaluate your standing as an online influencer periodically. By calculating growth through data, you can gauge how much progress you have made when it comes to influencing people online. This is of vital importance when it comes to garnering brand collaborations. Brands need to find you valuable enough to fill a gap among users that they are unable to influence.
It is fairly easy to track progress in terms of demographics, reach, and engagement rate, through the analytics available on all social media platforms. These platforms also provide data on how you’ve gone about building your audience. Tracking this progress lets you know about content that resonates the most with the audience.
Based on your budgets, you can also subscribe to external analytics tools and services to dive-deep into your online performance. This can help you build your future content with necessary tweaks to cast a wider net and increase engagement/followers. Mixing optimized data with your pull as an influencer is the ideal way to grow your social media presence while generating a high ROI.
Staying Contemporary And Following Trends
The internet has driven home the point that change is the only constant. Social media is constantly updating itself and influencers need to constantly evolve to keep up with the changing trends. Not only does this help you stay relevant, but violating any terms and conditions that have recently changed could lead to you being penalized.
If we take a look at the Covid 19 situation, most social media pages today look quite different from what they did as recently as February, owing to consumers spending way more time at home now. The plus side is that studies show 64 percent of consumers are now doing most of their apparel and clothes shopping online, making influencers more relevant than they’ve ever been!
It must also be kept in mind that the FTC guidelines and policies are of prime importance when it comes to collaborating with a brand.
Consistent Delivery Of Content
The top influencers in the world have over time reached a point where their fan base truly depends on them. To engage with them on a level where there is an eagerness for you to put out content, consistency is the key. The contemporary user has a very fleeting attention span and any delay in posting can cause them to migrate to another influencer for sourcing content.
Social media algorithms are built to prioritize accounts that post regularly. You can choose the frequency that you are most comfortable with and stick to it, be it daily, weekly or hourly. This also varies based on the platform – Twitter, for example, is more dynamic and requires you to post way more frequently than other platforms. There are excellent resource tools such as eClicher, Buffer, Hootsuite, and AgoraPulse, that can help you schedule posts and adhere to timelines.
Certain studies also suggest the best time of the day and week to post for maximum engagement. These help in creating a fixed timetable that you can then adhere to with your communication.
Being a social media influencer is not an overnight journey but consistently dishing out relevant content is a step in the right direction.
The influencer marketing industry is a competitive space that takes time and strategy to succeed in. However, with the above steps to find your niche and the ideal growth hacking techniques, you could soon be a leading and reliable influencer in the industry of your choice. You can build a brand that your fans trust and expand your influencer network.