The most obvious answer to this is to start making content! Content is king on all platforms, and you need to create something that will help you build a new audience, and which will then keep that audience coming back for more.
Influencers are the new celebrities. They create the content you love, influence what you buy and are accessible to their communities.
Your content may be super arty and well made, but if no one is watching or engaging with it, it won’t help you grow to become an influencer. Content without an audience does not an influencer make!
So many creators have different routes to growing their audience.
Back in the day, when there weren’t so many creators, it was much easier to grow massive followings like Zoella and co. The mere fact that you were creating content on the platforms meant you might be picked up by the algorithm and suddenly become crazy big! These days, so many people are in the space so it is a bit more competitive.
Remember, platforms usually want to do 2 things; make money through Ads and keep users on the platform for as long as possible. The algorithm doesn’t change too often, but it’s always a good idea to keep on top of it.
Look at YouTube’s switch to watch time in 2012!
There’s no magic formula to success: you may grow instantly after just starting out, or you may have a steady growth over years of creating content. There are, however, things you can do to give yourself the best chance!
Ok, but what can I actually do to become an influencer?
Right, so you’ve read all the intro stuff, but you want to get straight into what you actually need to do to become an influencer. Here are 9 things you can do as a start.
CREATE AN ACCOUNT
Super obvious, but necessary! You should set up a separate account from your personal account.
Your account name. It is very tempting to make your @ something funny that you think is cool at the time, but think about whether this is how you want to be known for the next few years. If you genuinely want to be an influencer, you want to make sure you don’t cringe every time you say your handle! Creators are usually able to change this later down the line, but your audience will most likely still think of you as the handle you had when they first discovered you…..
Make sure it is set up as a business or creator account if the platform has that option (e.g Instagram). You won’t be able to get full analytics without a business account, and knowing who is watching your content, when and where is really important for understanding your audience. (and when you’re working with brands later down the line!)
2. CREATE CONTENT
Content is the most important part of being an influencer! Without content, you have an empty channel. Content is what drives engagements and followers, so it’s super important to get your content right. This doesn’t mean your content needs to be perfect: taking content on your iPhone vs on a fancy camera won’t make a massive difference (platforms like Instagram compress your content anyway when you upload)
You need to figure out what content you want to create: reviews, lookbooks, skits, let’s plays?
Do you have a niche? Is there content you can create that would set you apart from other creators?
What are you passionate about? If you don’t love your content, this will come across, and you will most likely begin to hate doing it. Remember, you will be creating content every week, maybe even every day, so it needs to be content you enjoy making.
Is it content your audience would watch?
What do you watch? Is there content you would love your fave creators to make?
3. THINK ABOUT YOUR AUDIENCE
After content, your audience is the next most important part of being an influencer!
You are creating content for your audience. You need to find your audience, and keep them.
Who is your audience?
Do you know what they like and dislike?
Create a community: your audience is incredibly valuable, and it is your ability to create a loyal community which will make or break your channel. When you want to work with brands, yes your content is important, but they are mostly interested in reaching out to your audience through you to share their product.
Engage with your audience. Make your audience feel like a part of your community. Your channels are a direct way audiences can reach you, and audiences love to feel like they have dialogue with their favourite creators. When audiences engage, (likes, comments etc) you should react! That could be as simple as liking their comment, or commenting back. As you get bigger, this may be more difficult, so make sure to shout out to your audience in your content, eg you could do an Instagram Story saying thanks so much for all of your comments, you read through all of them but may not have time to reply to all as there are so many. Constantly let your audience know that you value them, and bring them into the creative process. Ask your audience to feedback on your content. This could be by asking them whether they would be interested in you creating a new kind of format through Instagram Story Polls, or by asking them to comment which items to keep from your haul on your YouTube video.
To cut a long story short: Always think about who your audience are, and what they want to see. You want to take your audience along with you, and create content that they will engage with. Think of your audience as your community, and make them feel important by engaging with them.
4. BE AUTHENTIC
Being authentic and true to your audience is key to keeping them coming back to your channel.
As being part of a community is so important to audiences, they want to feel that their favourite creators are true with them.
This doesn’t mean you need to tell them your deepest, darkest secrets. Only be as open as you feel comfortable with. This just means that you need to be yourself.
5. CHOOSE YOUR BRANDING
Photo by Pratik Gupta from Pexels
If you had the choice between two identical shower gels, both at the same price, but the packaging of one looked all over the place and tatty, and the other’s looked tidy and professional, which one would you go for? Most likely the tidy and professional one, right!
The same goes for your channel! Sure, you may get people following you who love your content who don’t care about your branding, but a lot won’t take the first step to watch your content or go to your channel if it doesn’t look appealing.
Your brand can, and most likely will, change as you grow, which is fine, so remember, this doesn’t have to be set in stone.
Think about your own behaviour when you use socials. You make snap decisions on whether to watch a YouTube video or interact with an Instagram post based on what it initially looks like.
Think about your own personal brand:
how do you want people to see you?
Are there any colours that you want to use in your branding?
How do you want your feed/channel to look?
YouTube/Instagram/TikTok SEO etc is important, but so much depends on your thumbnail and titles. SEO can only get so far as serving a viewer with your content, whether they continue to watch or engage is up to you from there.
A good place to start:
write your bio and/or channel description
Find a clear profile pic that captures what your channel is about
On YouTube, make sure your thumbnails clearly show the audience what the video is about. These will need to be clearly readable on a mobile device, so clear and bright is always a good shout.
Being consistent with your style of content, branding and how often you upload.
You audiences are most engaged when they know what to expect. If you always upload on Wednesdays at 6pm, your audience will expect that, so don’t leave them hanging!
7. METADATA & SEO
Platforms use algorithms to decide who to put your content in front of. Platforms and search engines use information from and about your content to help them to decide whether and who to show your content to.
This information can be your copy (this basically means any text: the caption of your IG posts, your YouTube video description etc), your tags, any subtitles, when you upload, who else follows you, what is in your content and more.
You don’t need to have a degree in making an algorithm, but remember that platforms generally want users to spend as much time as possible on the platform in order to serve them ads. This means that they want to serve viewers content they think they want to watch.
Make sure to use relevant tags, hashtags, words, descriptions in your content, but don’t overdo it. If you just use tons of popular words in your YouTube video description (especially ones that aren’t relevant to your content), YouTube will smell a rat and you may not perform as well in the algorithm.
8. COLLAB WITH OTHER CREATORS!
Reach out to other creators and feature in each other’s content,
New audiences will find you through other talent if you’re tagged in their content.
It’s a win win situation: have fun collaborating with another creator and grow your audience!
9. GIVE YOUR AUDIENCE A CALL TO ACTION
Remind your audience to engage with your content, and make sure to tell them to subscribe!
Some viewers might not even think to engage, but asking your audience to feedback on your content will make them more likely to actually like or comment.