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Social media influencers are people, like you and me, who build an online audience and win the trust of that audience. They are their own personal brand without a boss or a work schedule, and the sky seems to be the limit on where they can take their brand.
Here is their secret advantage: influencers can share a personal side to themselves online that companies and organizations simply can’t. They build a relationship with followers and viewers by putting out great content regularly – and people keep coming back for more.
But what makes a social media influencer and how many followers do you really need to be called an influencer? Let’s find out.
What is a social media influencer?
A person who builds an audience on one or many online channels, and who builds enough trust with their audience to affect their decisions, is called a ‘social media influencer’. If an influencer loves a brand and recommends those products, their followers will often buy or switch to that brand because they trust the influencer.
Being an influencer can help everyone:
- The influencer can negotiate great deals or discounts for their followers (and get paid to let their audience know about it)
- Followers discover new products or brands that they love through the influencer, and benefit from any special offers and discounts
- Brands get to connect with people in a more authentic way, rather than forcing traditional generic adverts on the public
And this win-win-win is one of the reasons why we are seeing such a rise in the success of social media influencers.
Types of social media influencers
If you want to become a successful influencer, it is best to start with a field or industry that you are very interested in and can talk about for days without getting bored. If you’re passionate about the topic, then your audience will feel and share that passion with you.
Social media influencers have had amazing success covering all sorts of topics, such as beauty and fashion, healthy living, product reviews, becoming activists for something they believe in, or being thought leaders as high-level decisionmakers in their field.
Once you’re an influencer, the doors will start opening for you with big brands actively looking for influencers to promote their products. One example we are seeing are the major department stores, such as Harrods and Bloomingdale’s, often choosing influencers over celebrities in their marketing campaigns.
And influencers don’t stop at promoting well-known brands – some influencers, such as these beauty influencers, have even started their own brands and product lines to sell.
What influencer channels are there?
If you want to build an influencer following, you can choose one or more of the following channels:
- Start your own blog in WordPress and publish blog posts that are linked to your social media profiles
- Become a vlogger and publish videos to channels like YouTube
- Record and publish podcasts
- Start a social media profile on one or a few social media platforms, such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tik Tok, or Twitch
The great news is that you don’t have to choose one platform. You can become an influencer on many platforms or build this up over time, like this teen TV presenter who’s now a successful beauty and fashion influencer with a blog, a vlog and a strong social media following.
How many followers do you need to be a social media influencer?
Even though the social media influencer market is thought to be worth over $10 billion in 2020, there’s no one-size-fits-all explanation for how many followers make an influencer.
Many marketing experts have tried to give guidelines on the number of followers or page views needed to be called an influencer and what type of influencer you are.
Instagram is still the most popular platform for social media influencers. Here’s how many followers make an influencer on Instagram:
- Nano Influencer: 1 000 – 10 000 followers
- Micro Influencer: 10 000 – 50 000 followers
- Mid-Tier Influencer: 50 000 – 500 000 followers
- Macro Influencer: 500 000 – 1 million followers
- Mega Influencer: 1 million+ followers
When talking about influencers on YouTube, we look at the number of page views rather than followers. To be called an influencer on YouTube, you’ll need at least 1 000 page views a month.
So 1 000 followers or monthly page views seems to be the start of an influencer’s career and opportunities for paid promotions.
Becoming a social media influencer can be a fun way to find online success.
If you’d like to become a social media influencer, be consistent with sharing personalized content online and promoting only the brands you love to your audience. Choose topics that you are passionate about, and slowly grow the channels you use to get your 1000+ followers.