How to be an influencer

How to Become an Influencer in 2020

It’s everybody’s dream job – getting paid by brands to feature their products in your social media posts. But things have become extremely competitive over the past couple of years, and ‘making it’ nowadays seems like an impossible dream.

But it’s not impossible. And it can be done.

Here is what you need to know if you want to succeed.

Become a guru now, the entertainer later

People follow others on social platforms because the content they’re sharing has value – either it’s educational or entertaining, or inspirational (they’re good looking, rich, or otherwise appear to be living the dream). Entertaining people is a lot more difficult to do than educating people, unless you have a clear gift.

Our advice to succeed in this climate is to focus on both educating a segment of population who share a common interest, and do your best to be an inspiration. Once you reach mid-level (lower macro) status – then you can focus more on crafting your shtick  – if that’s what you want to do (don’t suddenly stop educating – you might lose followers – that’s why they followed you in the first place).

To educate people you obviously need to be an expert on the topic. Find something you know a lot about, and ‘theme’ yourself on that topic. Your bio and imagery and even your stage name (Yes you will probably need one) needs to make it obvious that you are the authority in whatever subject you have chosen.

How do you make yourself inspirational? Be meticulous about what you’re showing in your content, particularly the background. Create the perception that you’re popular, in tune with the times, and successful. Don’t gloat or lie! You simply need to signal your successful and envious life in the footage you share – find interesting locations to shoot, interview people, do fun live feeds demonstrating yourself teaching a group of people. We hate the word ‘guru’ – but essentially that is what you need to become.

Let’s say for example you have a passion for motorcycles. If you post content like how to adjust the valves, how to change the brake fluid and so on you’ll amass a following of fellow bike lovers very quickly. It helps if the motorcycle you own is well sought after, to create the envy, but even if not you could include footage of yourself riding the motorcycle in nice scenery, or anything that makes people wish they were in your shoes!

Choose a platform, and stick to it

Focus your energy on one platform to start with. If you choose YouTube, you’ll tend to earn more from brand sponsorships simply because brands play a premium for video footage endorsements. Instagram is arguably easier since you don’t have to spend so much time editing and storyboarding, but a lot more competitive to get an organic following. Don’t discount TikTok – although you won’t get as many brand sponsorships as the more established platforms, this will probably change in the near future, and you might have an advantage if you were in there early.

Whichever you choose, you’ll need to focus all your energy – so rather than spreading yourself thin while you’re getting established – just focus on one and stick to it.

Don’t cheat the system

It might be tempting to speed up your influencer career by buying followers or using engagement pods to boost your popularity. DON’T DO IT! Most brands nowadays use automated tools to check influencer authenticity, that includes checking your engagement rates, active audience stats, follower growth rates (looking for unusual spikes), and comment authenticity. Once you’ve been found out – it’s almost impossible to recover without starting again.

Don’t think you must have many followers to be a successful influencer. In fact, many brands prefer nano-micro level influencers because their engagement and follower loyalty tends to be greater, meaning greater effectiveness of sponsored campaigns. Keep your content regular and consistent and you’ll soon find yourself in the macro-club. Just be patient – there are no easy shortcuts (but see our next tip).

Figure out Collabs

One of the best ways to earn credibility and gain new followers is from collabs with other influencers. If you’re affiliated with an agency like Cape they help to organise collabs, but if you’re not, you’ll need to try to make contact yourself. Try to research and choose other influencers who are at the same level as you, and in the same category as you. They’ll be more likely to want to collab if your followers are similar because there’s more likelihood of attracting each other’s followers (don’t count on getting a response from PewdiePie or Saffron Barker!).

Try to focus on telling your “story”

Content creators oftentimes tend to focus on each episode or post as a discrete event, but people are interested in your story overall, so keep that in mind. Each content you push out should contribute to a wider story that creates an illusion of what you’re about – whether it’s that you have a passion for makeup because you live in a theatrical world, or you love health and fitness because you’re all about helping others to be happy about themselves. Decide on a common thread of what you’re posting, emphasize it and stick to it.

Focus on your metrics

When brands are shopping for influencers, they’re looking for (1) followers that match their target market; (2) influencers who are not overly saturated (not too many of their posts are sponsored); (3) quality content – you’re a true content creator; (4) great metrics, including historical engagement rates, subscriber rate, and post volume.

Keep these in mind when you’re creating and posting – think of it like a business.

Once you’ve gotten enough followers, the next challenge is to get brands.

Have a champion. If you say you’re the best at something, people don’t believe it, and worse you end up sounding self-congratulatory, egotistical, and fake. But if someone else says you’re the best at something- others will believe it. This only works however if there is no clear conflict of interest – for example people probably won’t buy it if it’s your friends or associates claiming you’re the best.

You need someone who has something to lose if they’re wrong, such as an agent or a manager. Your agent already has established relationships with brands, and the last thing they want to do is ruin their relationships with their brands. Brands know this, and will trust your agent’s recommendations about you.

At Cape we offer influencer management services – go here to learn about our selection criteria.

Good luck with your career and we hope you join our Cape Cult.