These days, anyone with an iPhone and a decent Instagram following can call themselves an influencer. There’s a good reason for the market to be crowded. Brands spent $8 billion on influencer marketing in 2019, with projections for that amount to expand to $22 billion by 2022, according to Business Insider. The marketing research website Convince and Convert estimates influencers receive $10 per post for every 1,000 followers, offering motivation for accounts to acquire as many followers as possible.
With all that money on the table, the market has gotten busy – estimates show there are at least 500,000 influencers on Instagram alone. So how can a social media guru stand out from the pack? Personal brand savvy, a targeted outreach strategy and a content calendar organize your social presence and keep followers coming back.
Make Yourself an Expert
Influencers are able to sway their followers to make decisions for one reason: trust. The most effective Instagram stars build audience trust over time, creating a genuine connection that lends authenticity to their recommendations when they go commercial. Starting your own blog is a great way to start creating and curating content in your subject area. Potential followers will be able to find your best content in a central location. Potential clients – businesses that want to engage your influencer status as part of their marketing strategy – will see that you’re a true expert in the subject area who can represent their brand well. The current Instagram influencer movement has its start in blogging culture. Well before fashion icons were getting likes and followers, they were testing products and posting reviews on blogs. A carefully designed, well-written and user-friendly blog is still a great way to showcase your knowledge and build your brand.
Find Your Niche
Successful influencers build audiences by finding a niche and going all in. Do you have a knack for food photography and a taste for a particular cuisine? Carve out space as a restaurant fan in your city. You’ll need to commit to going to restaurants on your own dime for a while, but taking great, well-lit photos and posting thoughtful commentary with the right hashtags can build a following. In larger cities, you might be able to find space as an influencer within a specific price range of eatery or type of cuisine. Once you have a decent-sized following on a particular topic, you’ll be able to pitch influencer marketing services to businesses to sell products related to that topic. Think about your audience as though you’re a business launching a product. You need to define not just demographic characteristics like age and location, but also the tone, photo style, post length, hashtags and post timing that will land with your target audience.
Get to Know Your Followers
As an influencer, your goal is to build a community of followers who know and trust you. The most loyal followers will feel engaged in your content. That engagement doesn’t come from a one-sided conversation. React and reply to comments, and take time to like other people’s posts. Especially when you’re starting out, you’ll need to stay on top of your interaction and put out timely responses that fit the tone of your account. Get your name out there in your targeted market segment by reacting and commenting on posts from related businesses, like restaurants or clothing lines. You’re not just building a network of business contacts, you’re building an online community and creating genuine connections.
Set a Schedule
Any business with a social media presence should set a posting schedule and plan out a content calendar in advance. That type of planning is even more important for a personal influencer account, as you’re solely responsible for finding and curating content. Active influencers should post at least a few times a week, while also being careful not to flood their feeds with too much content. As you start to gain clients for your influencer marketing services, an editorial content calendar will become more important to managing your schedule and ensuring you always have something great to post.
Stay on Top of Social Trends
Instagram has changed in the past few years, with the advent of Instagram stories and IGTV. It’s certain to change again in the future. Successful influencers should be early adopters of platform developments and new features. Be intentional about how you use the channel’s storytelling options to best express your content. Stay on top of emerging trends and keep learning to expand your skill set.