The best way to explore this career is to start posting on your social media platforms about brands that you like. Don’t be shy. People of all ages are social media influencers. Experiment with writing interesting posts, taking cool photos and videos, and otherwise presenting yourself and your love of a certain product or service online. Interact with those who like or comment on your posts, and follow and network with others who share your interests.
Talk to social media influencers about their careers. Ask them for advice on how they broke into the field, what they like and dislike about their work, and other questions that will give you a better understanding of the field.
The work of social media influencers can be divided into three areas: research, creative tasks, and business operations.
An aspiring influencer must first develop a plan of how they will present themselves on social media. For example, if they love the outdoors, they might seek to develop a travel/leisure blog. They will need to conduct research to determine which social media channels are the best fit for their intended audience and type of creative output. For example, Instagram and Snapchat are popular with Millennials, while TikTok is most popular with people under age 30. Facebook is especially popular with those age 30 and older. Additionally, influencers must match their chosen creative content (e.g., written word, videos, photographs, podcasts, etc.) with the appropriate social media platform(s). For example, those who want to become known for their videos would use YouTube and TikTok, Instagram for photos, WordPress or Blogger for blogs, and Buzzsprout for podcasts. Aspiring influencers also frequently use Facebook, which allows users to access text, photos, and videos. Next, aspiring influencers conduct research to identify the most-popular influencers in their area of interest to learn about best practices. After studying the work of their competitors, establishing a clear set of goals for their site, choosing a social media platform or platforms, and setting up their accounts, they’re ready to actually begin creating content.
Social media influencers spend a lot of time creating content in order to establish a track record of providing useful information and opinion to the public—with the ultimate goal of attracting more followers. They write blog posts, take photographs or videos, record podcasts, or do whatever they’re good at to attract followers. Their posts may be funny, thought-provoking, informative, or a combination of all these things and other traits.
Creating content may seem easy, but it is very challenging to do so constantly once one begins gaining a large number of followers. They must not only create the content, but they must also stage products for photo shoots, edit their work, and prepare it for publication online by adding hashtags and keywords so that their work gets noticed by search engines. They also have to create different versions of the same post for different social media platforms in order to attract followers from different demographic groups.
An influencer’s creative duties don’t end once they’ve published their content. They’ll need to respond to their followers’ comments (compliments, questions, and complaints) to build a rapport with their audience. If they write a comedic blog, their followers will expect them to be funny when they respond to their comments. If they write a fact-based blog, their followers will expect them to provide more facts when responding to questions (which takes more research). In short, influencers must keep being the same person they are on Twitter, YouTube, or Facebook. And they must respond to comments from their followers regardless of whether they’re tired, sick, or simply not in the mood to communicate with others.
While they’re busy creating content and responding to comments on their pages, influencers also need to focus on the business side of influencing. They research potential clients’ planned marketing campaigns and create proposals that match their needs. They spend a lot of time writing pitches and meeting or otherwise communicating with companies that are interested in working with you. This won’t be easy; it’s estimated that more than 70 percent of pitches made by influencers to companies are rejected. Once an influencer has attracted the attention of a company, he or she must review the proposed contract and negotiate changes, when necessary. This can be stressful and time consuming. Some influencers are represented by agencies (such as Viral Nation and Hireinfluence) that handle the business aspects of the job.
Other important business tasks for influencers include: