Brands have started to embrace influencer marketing like never before, and for good reason. But in this article we are going to flip things on its head, and instead of focusing on working with influencers, we are going to look at the ways in which you, yes you, can become the influencer. It’s not an easy path, but it is very much doable.
To become an influencer, you have to stand for something or be known for something. One of the most successful ways of doing this is by aligning yourself to a marketing buzzword. Buzzwords have a bad reputation at times, but they present an incredible opportunity for you to build a name for yourself around an evolving and growing term. Terms such as “Influencer Marketing”, “Conversational Commerce” or “Augmented Reality” are all on the rise, and give you an opportunity to become known in that field, before the term becomes part of general marketing vocabulary.
There are loads of niches and buzzwords out there for you stand for. It’s important though to not get distracted by all of the options and spread yourself too thin. Many terms, words and phrases are inexplicably linked, but you cannot become an expert and influencer in all things. Be specific and be memorable!
To position yourself as an influencer, you have to delve deeper on a topic or a platform. In order to be recognized as an influencer, you have to add value. A single post that scratches the surface of a subject just won’t cut it. Something like ‘4 ways to maximize your content marketing’ as a stand-alone piece isn’t great.
Try to think about a larger approach, for instance, publishing a series on content marketing that mixes a few higher level overview articles with some deeper articles. This will provide a great range of articles and establish yourself as an authority on the topic. If you aren’t creating content that goes deeper, requires more thought to create, or aren’t considering what the outcome for the reader/viewer will be, then you aren’t going to build influence. Even Instagrammers are thinking about this. For those superstars of the platform, every single shot is precise, thought out and neatly presented.
If they are a fashion influencer, they are adding incredible value by taking photos of the clothing in the most interesting of locations, from amazing angles and in a variety of poses. Even tagging outfit details to offer even more value to their followers. This is the value their viewers want. This is an example of they go deeper, and showcase every part of the product, not just one pretty photo. Whether you are a YouTuber, Blogger, or Instagrammer, finding your niche and going deeper is key. Ask yourself: What perspective can you offer that no one else can? Where can you take your viewers that others cannot? What value can you give?
You’ve found something to hang your hat on, you also have an idea on how to go deeper, and maybe you are already doing it, which is awesome. The next step is being consistent. It takes time to build influence. It doesn’t happen overnight. Consistency isn’t doing things for a few days, weeks or months. It is thinking and acting long term. You have to go all in with the mindset that you are going to do this over a long period of time, 1,2,3 years minimum. That dedication to creating content is what will draw advertisers and promoters to you.
From a more personal point of view, to become an influencer you have to either a) do things better than anyone else, or b) be different than everyone else. No matter which route you choose to go down, you have to be consistent. To be better than anyone else you need to create content regularly, because, after all ‘practice makes perfect’. Even when you go down the route of being different, you still need to be consistent in order to be discovered, and followed. Otherwise you are just a flash in the pan celebrity, and not an influencer. Adjust your mindset. Think 1 or 2 years down the line. If you can put together 100 blog posts (every week for nearly 2 years) imagine the depth and quality of content that you’ll have. Look at your development over that time too. You’ll be amazed!
To be an influencer you have to own a space, place or medium. You cannot be all things to all people, and you cannot be in all places at the same time. Yes, there are some massive macro-influencers who have their own social media teams and are able to dominate multiple platforms, but this isn’t the norm. For you, as someone starting out or looking to further grow your influence, you need to dominate one or two mediums and platforms. The medium could be podcasting, and the platform could be Twitter and LinkedIn. Alternatively, the medium could be photographs, and the platform(s) could be Instagram and Pinterest. Find the medium that best suits your personality, and suits your content. Go all in. Dominate your space on the platform(s) of your choosing. This will help you be consistent, go deeper and build a loyal audience.
To truly become an influencer, you need to first build authority and authenticity. Everything in this post has been geared around setting yourself up as an authority in a space. However, even if you do absolutely everything suggested, you cannot become an influencer without being genuine and authentic.
Everyone has made mistakes, has a personality, thoughts and opinions. Share those. Tell your story. Where have you come from? What has taken you to this point? This is a level of buy-in and engagement that turns your audience into a loyal fan-base. Not only do they know, love and get value from what you share, but they also buy into you as a person. View relationships like ‘logs in the fire’ . . . yes, they can take a while to get the fire going, but given a little bit of time, they burn hotter and for longer than anything else. This is why your content has to create consistency over time. All of your content has to be aligned to the same goal over the same length of time. i.e.
One of the key elements to influencer marketing is the relationships that you build. Engage with your audience. Have conversations with your peers. Contribute to discussions and Twitter chats. Conversations are core to authenticity and subsequently authority.
Once you’ve done all of the above you, are well on your way to becoming an influencer in your space. However, you haven’t mastered it yet. The aim for you is to become synonymous with the word, term, phrase or industry you are talking about. You are now at the point to turn authority into influence. You want to be mentioned in the same breath as the thing you want to be known for. It could be ‘Social Customer Service’, or it could be ‘How to use LinkedIn’. By thinking long-term and gearing all your content to be adding value to your audience, you will become synonymous with your chosen area/topic. Now comes the fun part . . . stay consistent, continue to add value and remain authentic. This isn’t easy, but if you can do that, your influence will only soar.
Despite everything mentioned in this article, remember that influence isn’t measured by fickle follower numbers, it’s measured in influence . . . and you cannot buy it. Influence is measured in things like meaningful interactions and things like your engagement per 1000 followers.
Ultimately people will buy followers and fans, and the temptation can be real because it’s quick. Just remember though, that you need to be putting more logs in the fire not firelighters. You want to burn for longer and deeper, not be a flash in the pan. True influence is earned, not bought. Now put yourself out there, and become the go-to influencer in your space! Learn how you can restructure your Instagram profile biography to be found as an influencer.
Ben M. Roberts is the Head of Marketing for a SaaS startup called Talkative, and is the host of ‘The Marketing Buzzword Podcast’. He is an avid conference speaker and looks to spread his mission of debunking and demystifying marketing buzzwords so that they are used to add value and build authority.