The term “influencer” has crept into our everyday language and stuck there, thanks to the rise of today’s internet influencers.
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Whether you’ve purchased some vitamins because your favorite Instagrammer showed them off during an Instagram story or you’ve stopped following a YouTuber after they posted their first unboxing video that was, of course, #sponsored, you probably have feelings about influencers.
But love them or hate them, there is no avoiding them. Influencers are selling everything under the sun and sponsoring everything they post (even their weddings!) and everyone has an opinion on whether they are the future of marketing.
Influencer marketing is expected to be a 6.5 billion dollar industry by the end of this year. It’s no wonder that our timelines and lives have become flooded with them!
But as a content creator, do you need to concern yourself with becoming an influencer? Should you worry about that elusive blue checkmark, brand deals and millions of follower?
Content creators don’t need to become “influencers” but they should have influence over their audience.
What does that mean? Allow us to explain a little bit about the power of influence (and it has nothing to do with sponsored ads, by the way).
What does influence mean in today’s world?
According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, influence is defined as “the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways.”
In other words, having influence means you can drive someone to action. If you have influence over your audience, you are able to drive them to take the actions you want them to take.
And these “actions” are usually more than a like or a retweet. Actions that point to influence are the bigger, more meaningful actions that require a little bit more effort.
Do followers click back to your website from your social media posts?
Do they read your blog, listen to your podcast or watch your videos when you share them?
Do followers subscribe to your emails or do they open, read and click your emails?
Do followers register for the events you promote?
Do they purchase your services or products?
Some of these actions require more effort than others and they usually build on one another. If you can’t get anyone to click back to your website, you’re going to struggle to get anyone to buy your products and services. Start with influencing your audience to take smaller actions. If you stay consistent, you’ll be able to continue building trust with them so they start taking the bigger actions. The more your audience trusts you, the more you’ll be able to influence them to take the bigger actions.
In general, the more influence you have, the bigger the actions you can drive people to take.
Do you need to be an “influencer” to have influence?
Influencers have been around for centuries. We just didn’t refer to them as influencers. They were celebrities, models, and spokespeople. But thanks to the power of the internet, we now have “Influencers.” You know them from their #sponsored content.
Influencers are simply content creators who have built a strong enough audience that they are able to partner with brands to promote and sell products.
Most people think if you want to demonstrate your influence, you have to be an “influencer” who has millions of followers and tons of brand partnerships. But having influence has nothing to do with how many followers you have or how many sponsored posts you share.
You could have millions of followers but if those followers don’t engage with your content or trust you enough to take the actions you want them to take, then you don’t have influence. You just have a lot of followers.
On the flip side, you could have a smaller audience of a few hundred followers who love your content, trust you and your recommendations and value what you have to say. When you recommend a product to this audience, they buy it or when you ask them to listen to your latest podcast, they quickly download it. Even though it’s far fewer followers, you’re still able to influence them to take actions so you would be considered more of an influencer than someone with millions of followers who don’t take action.
What can content creators do to have influence?
Even if you have no interest in brand partnerships or affiliate links and you shudder at the idea of becoming of influencer, you still need to have influence if you are a content creator. Because having influence means you have established trust among your audience.
When your audience trusts you, they engage with your content, purchase your services, subscribe to your podcasts, show up to your events, sign up for your courses, tell their friends about you and, in general, support you, your business and your content.
When in doubt about how to build influence online, go back to your Know, Like and Trust factor. You can’t have influence unless people trust you. You can’t build trust if people don’t like you and you can’t get people to like you if they don’t know you! Follow these tried and true tactics for building your know, like and trust factor and establishing influence with your audience.
1. Create valuable content
Social media is driven by the exchange of content. There’s so much of it on the internet already so you need to strive to create the very best content for your audience. It can be blogs, videos, images, recordings but whatever it is, it should be valuable to your audience.
2. Build your community
Of course, you can’t just share posts and hope that people will want to keep following you. Being influential means building a community and you build a community through engaging with your audience. Don’t just post and ghost! Ask questions, answer questions, respond to comments, seek out new people to engage by searching hashtags and join other communities. Be active and show up on social.
3. Share YOU and your personality
You are your own superpower! If you want to build trust with an audience, then you need to share who you are! Don’t be afraid to get a little personal. Share those not-so-picture-perfect selfies, those behind the scenes snaps of real life and the personal stories. Humans connect with other humans so don’t be afraid to show the real person on the other side of the content!
Another way to share you without airing dirty laundry (literal or metaphorical dirty laundry 😉 ) is to share your why. We all have a bigger why behind our content and your why is part of you and your story.
4. Be consistent
Influence comes down to trust and no one will trust you if you are inconsistent. Consistently showing up on social media means setting a schedule and sticking to it! It also means answering questions in comments, responding to DMs and proving that you’re not just scheduling and leaving. (No shame, we love a good scheduling tool but there is so much more to social media than simply posting! But if you do need scheduling help, MeetEdgar has your back.)
Not everyone with a content channel and a social media account needs to be branded as an “Influencer.” You don’t need to have millions of followers or get paid thousands of dollars for posts to start having influence. You need a message, a story, and a voice. Once you have that, share your message, be consistent, engage and that trust will start to build.
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