When you think of an ‘influencer’ in today’s society, you probably think of all those Instagram and YouTube stars who make a lot of money promoting products and services on social media.
That is only a tiny part of the influencer world. Every industry has it’s influencers, they are the people who are looked up to and respected for their knowledge and ideas. People like Simon Sinek, Gary Vaynerchuk, Neil Patel, Marie Forleo and Arianna Huffington.
You don’t have to have a multimillion-dollar track record to build a profile as an industry influencer, but it does take focus and effort. Many influencers have built up their reputations and following providing valuable content that people trust and are experts at using social media and SEO to get them to the forefront of people’s feeds.
So why do people want to become influencers? Well, there are a number of reasons. It can be a huge benefit to you in your professional life and industry. Being an influencer can help build your personal brand and that of your business. To be truly successful, you need to really want to help people learn.
So how do you set about becoming an industry influencer?
Research your niche
You probably already have a niche in mind that fits in with your existing experience or skillset. As with any good marketing strategy, focussing your efforts on your ideal target audience will bring about better results than an industry-wide approach. For example, rather than simply producing content on marketing, you could choose to refine this to digital marketing, SEO, social media etc.
Once you’ve chosen your niche and target audience, research what type of content they are looking for, what issues they encounter and which social platforms they use. Facebook and Twitter can are still relevant to certain target audiences. Other platforms to look at include LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and TikTok.
Get up to date on legal guidelines
Once you’ve chosen your platforms, you’ll need to know the ins and outs of promoting content online. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has introduced many regulations over the last few years that outline how social media creators can work with and promote brands.
If you do end up falling foul of the FTC, you’ll need to find a good influencer attorney who has experience in that area of the law.
Though not necessarily a legal issue, social media platforms are changing their rules and algorithms regularly and getting penalized by them can severely restrict your reach on the platform.
Develop a content plan
Well planned, informative and quality content is your key to building your social media following. Depending on the platform you are using, you should develop content in a range of formats.
All content should follow your tone of voice, be friendly and professional. Your content should a mix of that produced by others, informative content of your own, and one of two self-promotional posts.
By republishing the content of others, you’re proving to your target audience that you are concerned more about quality content that self-promotion. You’ll also build engagement and online relationships with other content creators too.
Rather than take a scattergun approach, plan your content calendar as far in advance as possible and schedule it to post automatically.
How to find topics to write about
You will probably pick up a lot of ideas about what your target audience is looking for. Other places for inspiration include the related keywords box on Google, or on sites like Quora, Reddit and Answer the Public.
Amplifying your content
Creating content is one thing, getting it out there for people to see, is another. Depending on which platforms you are using, there are more popular times to post content.
Grow your followers
Growing your followers takes time. You’ll have to reach out to people in other ways such as through your website, blogging and online PR in order to draw people to your channels.
Look at guest posting on other blogs and if you have the budget, arrange sponsored posts on high profile sites. Offer up your services for other people’s podcasts and YouTube channels.
Consistency is key
Inconsistent content is a sure-fire way to make your channels stagnate. People are looking for regular content from people they trust. You need to keep yourself at the forefront of people’s minds when they are looking for content in your niche.
Get yourself a social media scheduler such as Buffer, Hootsuite or Sprout Social. You can plan content weeks and months in advance.
Join the conversation
Social media is a two-way street. Rather than just posting content and leaving it at that, you want to encourage conversation and respond to your followers.
Track your progress
Social media platforms have their one analytics where you can track statistics such as engagement, reach and demographics.
Use this information to fine-tune your content. You will be able to see what works, what doesn’t and what you should be doing more of.
Having all of these statistics to hand will also help you approach brands and influencers, who often have a minimum set of requirements for those that they collaborate.
Once you’ve decided that becoming an influencer is something you want to do, then it’s important to do your research, plan and be consistent. You don’t need to be the owner of a successful company to build up your reputation, you just need to know your subject area and genuinely want to help people. From there, crafting your content strategy and finding ways to promote yourself and your channels is the way to build engagement. Success won’t happen overnight, but consistent progress will reap the biggest benefits of building an engaged audience, who trust you and value your expertise. Then, should you wish to in the future, there will be opportunities to build on this following by launching your own ebooks, memberships sites company of other business venture. Your audience will already be there waiting for you.