Being a social media influencer is the millennial twist on the age old marketing method of hiring brand representatives and ambassadors without the expensive deals and commercial television time. Lebron James with Nike, Michael Jordan with Jordan, and Paul Pogba with Adidas are just a few of the household names that are actually just influencers. People worship athletes and will do whatever they can to be like them including buy the shoes the wear, drink and eat the things they do, drive the cars they drive, and anything else that even slightly lets an average person live vicariously through an athlete.
So for companies, social media mavens with a huge following in a certain niche are the perfect marketing mediums. People are more committed to their phones and social media than relationships nowadays so the eyes are there. If Becky from Kentucky finds out that RebeccaFitnessStar from Florida drinks raccoon blood to get washboard abs then Becky from Kentucky is going ‘coon hunting. Long story short, the influencers try to advocate for the product and drive sales. Companies know how successful an influencer is by collecting lead data or providing the influencer with a unique code that customers must enter upon purchasing. In return, the companies may pay a commission to the influencers or even just provide them with free products.
In truth, you’ve already seen it. After Shia Labeouf courted Megan Fox in Bumblebee on Transformers, Chevrolet saw a 10% increase in the sale of yellow cameras. Ecommerce giant Amazon has launched its own Social Media Influencer program dubbed the “Amazon Influencer Program” to provide influencer services to ecommerce merchants on their site. Currently, anyone can sign up to be an Amazon Affiliate and receive commissions from sales that were funneled through the affiliate’s blog or website, but Amazon is keeping its Influencer Program exclusive.
So what does it take?
– First you need a niche. Fitness is working for a lot of people, but it is becoming saturated. But don’t worry. There is a space in the social media universe for everyone. Just the other day I saw a woman who had 55k followers on Instagram and all she did was post about board games. Some of my friends receive hundreds of dollars worth of clothing and fishing gear because they catch sharks and host celebrity outdoorsmen. Any subject that you’re passionate about or know really well can work for you and make you money or at least get you some free gear. You can do it, too.
– Next, you need a ton of followers and not just anyone. They have to interact with your page. You need likes, retweets, comments, or whatever else the interaction currency is on that particular social media engine. Your followers must respond to your needs as well. Do they answer questions when you ask? Do they tag people when you ask? Get your fans to the point where they’re virtually surviving off of food, water, and your posts/attention.
– Last, you need to branch out. Many influencers do get approached, but a few people need to do the legwork to find brands that may need their services. There are agencies dedicated to linking influencers and brands or companies but the absence of a middle man means more profits for you.
This is the direction that digital marketing is going towards. Whether you’re a company, an influencer, or spectator you should pay attention to who’s doing what and why. Influencers can be highly profitable if they’re in charge of marketing the right product and really take to the idea.