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So, You Want to Be a Social Media Influencer

It is a profession that 41 percent of Americans believe they could do if they tried. At first consideration, the number of want-to-be social media influencers may or may not be significantly high or low depending upon comparisons with other professions. The reality is that most of us want to be something, even if we are not completely certain as to what being “it” requires in the way of personal talent, education, and experience.

Wanting to be a professional football player is the dream of more than a million high school athletes every year even though there are only 350 or fewer NFL player openings each season. Most of the young dreamers, by the time they graduate from high school sports, know what it is to play the game, what the rules are, how physically demanding the requirements are, and the assortment of pains that must be endured along the way. It’s estimated that there are more than 10 million active social media influencers worldwide, and while a number of famous practitioners can strike it wealthy, the average annual income for an influencer is $46,000.

A social media influencer is someone who develops a relationship with a group of listeners and followers on social media channels and who, over time, successfully convinces them to make a purchase or take a position on a social issue. Influencers achieve the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others because of accepted authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with a niche product or specific social issue. Marketers and brands like social media influencers because they can set market trends or increase the value of a brand. The number of social media users has soared in popularity over the past decade. In 2023, 4.89 billion people use social media platforms every day and global influencer marketing spending will top $21 billion.

A social media influencer is required to grow an audience through regular posts on a specific topic. While successful doers make it look easy, a contender needs to be a creative and consistent communicator, have the ability to write engaging and authoritative content, and possess good editing and publishing skills. There is no need for an office. Influencers may work from home, in a car, on a plane, or at a favorite coffee shop. Compensation is based on the number of followers and successful candidates do not need advanced education degrees. Some of the most successful practitioners are high school dropouts.

After struggling with high school, Emma Chamberlain took her father’s advice to find something besides school to be enthusiastic about. As a social media personality, Emma’s vibrant, self-deprecating humor and artful videos have gone viral. Her YouTube channel reached twelve million subscribers in August of 2023 and gained a total of 1.61 billion video views. She is also celebrated for her penchant for coffee which led to Chamberlain Coffee, a line of high-quality beverages. Emma is reported to earn at least $120,000 a year from her videos and as much as $2 million annually from Chamberlain Coffee and sponsorship deals with Hollister and Louis Vuitton.

Charli Grace D’Amelio is an American social media personality who followed a bit longer journey to social media stardom. She performed as a competitive dancer for over 10 years before embarking on a social media career in 2019, when she started posting dance videos on TikTok. She is famous for being the first TikTok influencer to achieve 50, then 100 million followers. Today she has her own clothing and coffee merchandise lines and more than 151.2 million followers on TikTok.

Nearly half of consumers report discovering new products through favorite social media personalities every week, and 80 percent admit to making a purchase on the word of an influencer. To earn a living, influencers need to select a niche or talent and build an audience around the selection. Popular influencer interests include fashion, lifestyle, travel, sports, health, fitness, and beauty, to name a few. Influencers begin by building a reputation as a knowledgeable source for the selected niche. Creating high-quality content that is personal, engaging, and authentic is critical. It is best to establish regularly scheduled postings, which include hashtags to improve visibility and are directed at a specific audience.

Performers identify the best stages to perform on. Not all social media platforms are the same, so find out where the targeted audience is listening and perform the message consistently over time. To be a successful influencer, size matters. The larger the audience of followers, the more valuable the personality is to brands and marketers. Regardless of which category a professional influencer occupies, credibility, authenticity, and transparency are the major factors determining the continued viability of influencers’ impact on consumers. Long-term relationships between brands, influencers, and audiences will only be achieved when confidence in these principles among all participants is reached.

So, do you still want to be an influencer?