When you head over to Instagram, you cannot miss the fact that the social platform is full of images of good-looking people in exotic destinations. If you look at those photos a bit closer, you’ll notice two things — they usually attract a healthy amount of attention, and they sometimes feature a product placement. Welcome to the world of digital influencers, people who are leveraging their social media following to get product endorsement deals.
Instagram influencers are big in digital marketing right now, with some estimates stating that in 2016, marketers around the world spent $570 million in total on influencer marketing on Instagram alone. But that’s not the sole social network where influencers reside. And being good-looking and social-media savvy certainly isn’t the only way to become an online influencer.
What Are You Good At?
If you’re looking into becoming an influencer in the digital world, the very first question you need to ask yourself is what are you good at. The answer to this question will determine not only the niche in which you operate but also the strategy you’ll have to follow to achieve your goals.
The circumstances that made you look into an influencer career might point you in the right direction. People who are consultants, for example, can work on becoming an online influencer as a way of getting more clients, and for them, it’s easy to pick a niche because they already have all the expertise in a field they’ll ever need. For the people who don’t have that, the best way would be to look for something that comes natural and easy to them, especially if it can attract an audience.
Can You Display Your Expertise to Others Effectively?
As an influencer who operates online, one of your main work products is the content you create. If you think about Instagram influencers, their photos are their content. And the best influencers on Instagram will have the most appealing photos that will demonstrate their value and appeal to their audience and potential business partners.
If you want to become a marketing influencer, for example, you’ll probably do more of writing than posing for pictures. Or you might produce videos. The important thing is that you use the type of content that’s appropriate for your field of expertise, and that the content contains information that would be expected from an expert. There’s no room for obvious or well-known and infinitely rehashed facts in your content. You need to provide value that will help you stand out.
What’s Your Preferred Channel?
As an influencer, your value can be gauged by the size of your following, at least to some degree. The number of people who like your photos, share your infographics, or visit your blog or website will be used as an indication of your reach.
Measuring reach and its role is one of the problems with influencer marketing that are yet to be solved. But while you’re waiting for that to happen, you still need to pick a channel that will provide you with the most effective way to build and communicate with an audience. Facebook is the ubiquitous social network you can’t skip. But consider whether publishing content on LinkedIn is more appropriate for you than creating your own blog and whether you really need Twitter or Instagram. Use the channels your audience is using and the channels that fit your content.
How Much Work Can You Put In?
One of the best thing about an influencer career is that it can be bootstrapped. But if you do that, you’ll have to learn about everything from lead generation strategies to how to reduce website bounce rates.
You can find help, but you should be aware that the main activities that go into building yourself up as an influencer are done best if you do them on your own. You can hire someone to write content for you or to ghostwrite your guest posts. But while you can delegate some of the activities such as web design and SEO to other talented people, you’ll always want to produce your own content. And quality content takes a lot of time and a lot of effort to produce.
Can You Handle the Competition?
Finally, you should be aware that there are lots of people who want to be seen as influencers. There are very few, if any, niches that don’t already have a host of experts, both established and being developed. You will have to find a way to deal with the competition if you want to succeed.
You can always try to be better than the top influencer in your field. You can produce more content than they, you can have more relevant insights, or you can be better at self-promotion. But you need to make sure that you have something that sets you apart from the crowd right from the get-go, as it will make your climb to the top much easier.