The word influencer has become a popular term in recent years, especially with all of the different platforms on the Internet (remember when I predicted that we’d all get the term sooner rather than later?). The barrier to becoming an influencer is quite low. Ask yourself:
- do I have and share opinions with friends, family and social media followers?
- do I weigh in when someone asks for advice on purchasing a product or taking part in an event?
- do I post behind-the-scenes looks at my personal and professional life on my blog or social media?
If the answer to any one of those three questions is yes, YOU are an influencer!Are you an influencer? Ask yourself these three questions!Click To Tweet
But it’s not that simple. So let’s take a look at the opportunities for influencers in today’s world (and specifically, how to grow your brand and make more money!)
7 Things All Influencers Do
They don’t just consume, they review.
We all buy and try things, so we’re all consumers. The switch to becoming an influencer, though, requires that you share or review your thoughts with someone else!
You’re probably already influencing people without any strategy. When someone asks you for a restaurant recommendation and you list a few of your favorite spots, you’ve influenced the other person’s actions. When someone asks you where you got your shirt or who cuts your hair and you share the details, you’re reviewing and maybe even endorsing that product.
The bigger the influencer, the more he or she amplifies the review, which is why platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat have become so popular.
And if you start working with brands and PR agencies, you can monetize those opinions and endorsements! Listen, I know to many that probably seems greedy and opportunistic, and I agree that there’s a fine line between influencing and selling out.
(It’s why I am SO fierce about disclosure. Also, this podcast interview with Danielle Liss from Businessese is great if you’re trying to figure out what to charge and how to start making money from your brand.)
But if you are smart, responsible and picky about what items you endorse and recommend, AND again, you’re up front and transparent with your audience, I think it’s a win-win-win proposition.
They create content.
Influencers don’t just talk about the products they love: they create content around it. Whether that’s a photo on Instagram or a blog post review, influencers use their platforms to share their work.
They answer questions.
Again, this can be as simple as a conversation in the coffee shop line (“I love that necklace — where did you get it?” or “What drink do you recommend off the menu?) or as involved as a live chat or ongoing comment thread on social media.
Influencers have back-and-forth conversations, instead of just shouting their opinions and walking away.
They source, aggregate and share information that their audiences want.
Good influencers understand that to keep building their audience and expanding their brands, they need to become experts and go-to sources on their particular topic.
For fashion influencers, this could be a weekly round-up of sales or outfits found in stores. For fitness influencers, perhaps it’s a list of products and equipment to keep in the at-home gym to support their audience’s goals.
And I can’t stress this enough: you HAVE to actually use the products you recommend. Not only is it an FTC guideline/requirement BUT it’s the right thing to do. Follow the golden rule: treat your audience as you’d like to be treated when you are the one being influenced.
They capitalize on their leadership role to gain brand awareness, make money or establish expertise.
The word “influence” means:
the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.
So the very nature of it means that influence is more than just making a decision for yourself. So influencers reach a circle of people outside of themselves. We most often consider an influencer as someone who has a large audience (see below) but if a small group loyally and consistently takes action based on the review or endorsement, that can be just as effective.
They build a large and/or loyal reach.
Notice I said large and/or loyal. Celebrity influencers often have millions of people who are hanging on every word, which can mean that even just sharing a picture of a product can instantly drives sales.
But the other thing influencers do is build loyal audiences: people who will do and buy just about anything their influencer recommends. (I actually find this to be a much more meaningful relationship and with it, comes great responsibility.)
They stand out.
Influencers don’t have to be loud or brash, but they do have to stand out in a crowd. Whether that’s a unique take on a topic (gluten-free food bloggers, for example, or fitness influencers who focus on triathlon or weightlifting) or just a memorable personality, one key difference between a consumer and an influencer is that they rise above the noise.
Do you. Be awesome. And use your platform wisely!