For almost a decade, Neal Schaffer has been a trusted leading educator in the world of social media for business. He’s launched and managed influencer marketing campaigns on behalf of his agency clients and consulted and educated countless more.
How to Rebrand Yourself as an Influencer
Expanding your influence on social networks, as a brand or as an individual, brings multifaceted benefits. As a brand, if you’re influential, then you’ll already be involved with the discussions and conversations that influencers are engaging in, making opening doors and forging relationships somewhat easier. The gravity of your own influence will make you attractive to potential influencers looking to partner with you. As an individual, developing and growing your influence puts you in a position to be hired by a brand to help their campaigns.
So how do influencers build influence?
Content: There are different ways influencers connect with people and with brands. There are reviews, social conversations, blogs, podcasts, sharing their own photos or videos or commenting on those created by others, live streams, webinars, tweetchats, and at the other end of the spectrum, longer form work including books and public speaking. The common element here is that it all revolves around the central theme of content creation. The influencer connects with their audience through content.
Niche: With billions of social media users to compete with, how will your content stick out? It comes down to representing a specific niche, something you are an expert in or have a passion for that you can teach or inspire others about. When you send social signals to others who like other people representing similar niches, it will become easier for you to build a community when it is clear what specific things you post about and/or are an expert in.
5 Questions to Guide Your Personal Influencer Marketing Strategy
As with most parts of influencer marketing, it begins offline. Becoming more influential starts with developing a strategy. In this case, you address five key questions.
- Who is your target customer? To set sail you need to have at least a general guide or map.
- What is your unique passion, skill, or experience? You will need to create content about your specific niche. If you’re not passionate about the topic then you’ll struggle to keep going and run out of steam.
- Which networks should you target? What platforms are you comfortable with?
- Which content media are you most proficient in? Visual content requires a different skill-set than written content.
- Which influencers should you target to collaborate with? That’s right: Influencer collaboration is as helpful to brands as it can be to help you achieve influencer status faster.
Building Your Community
The first step toward building a community is finding its members. Working through bio searches and looking at who other influencers are following can yield a lot of information. Who follows influencers similar to them? You can search through mentions and hashtag searches, depending on the networks you’re working on. Social media gives you so much data on who to follow and how to engage with them to build your community. However, it takes time. It’s steady work but if you follow and engage on a regular basis, things do happen. By constantly doing this, you’ll let people know you exist, and they will begin engaging with your content.
- Regularly share content: Regularly share content to create relationships with your fans and other influencers. You can engage with the posts of your fans, or the brands you want to work with, or influencers in a similar field.
- Collaborate with other influencers: Collaborating with other influencers is a win/win situation. You can help each other with shout outs, or even just sharing content, tagging them so they know the content is being shared. Then connect with them and ask them to share your content.
- Talk to brands you want to work with: Talk about brands you want to work with and when you do mention them, tag the brands themselves. You have to bring yourself to their attention. You have to tap them on the back and show them how your audience engages with you in a way that is attractive to them. Once you feel confident that your community has been engaging with your content regarding that brand, reach out to them via DM and tell them you’d love to work with them.
- Own your email list: Email is another channel to promote campaigns. When you’re working with brands on an influencer campaign, often you don’t own your own content. You’ve agreed to give the content to the brand so they can use it again at a later date. Your intellectual property, if created for a brand as part of influencer marketing, may be their property not yours. But you own your email list. That’s not something you sell or give away. Brands will also be interested in knowing what other engagement and platform you’ve got outside of the followers on your social network accounts. If you have an email list of several thousand, then you bring more to the table as an influencer, making you a more attractive prospect to work with for brands.
It takes a large investment of time, but I believe—and I tell my agency clients this—that any company or person can find success in social media through generating an influential presence within three to six months.