In the Instagram age, no one needs to know how to work a 9-to-5 because you can make money doing what you love. But if your other job is being a “social media influencer,” it’s not as easy as picking up a camera and posting photos of your dog or tagging products in your selfies. You need to work for it and be strategic.
This lands in the world of sponsored Instagram posts, also known as “influencer marketing.” When you see your favorite Instagram accounts posting about brands or products, it could be because they were paid to do so—which makes them an influencer. Although there are no hard rules for being one, becoming sponsored by a major brand is an art form in itself.
But before you proceed to your game plan, it’s important to understand what an influencer really is. It’s not just your favorite bloggers, social stars are people with real connections with customers. Sure, these types of marketing campaigns have been around but in today’s digital society they’re more common than ever before. So here are things an influencer does to build its credibility:
1. Create a social media profile
where you can post these influencer posts. Chances are, the brand will need to know your audience size for pricing purposes. If you don’t have an established social media presence, step one is to create an Instagram account where you post photos of products that brands send to you or that inspire you, and tag them “ad.” This way, when you apply to become an influencer, you can send them a link to that account.
2. Join an influencer network
There are a few platforms where you can create a profile and gain access to influencer opportunities, such as Buzzoole or Famebit. You’ll have to apply to be part of these networks since you’re not an influencer yet. Once you are accepted, brands will be able to see your profile. Here, you can also see what brands would be a good fit for your audience and message before applying to work with them.
3. Engage with your followers on social media
by posting engaging content, responding to their comments, and interacting with them. This will help you build your following, which brands use to determine how many people are seeing your posts. The more consistent and high-quality you are on social media, the more likely brands will want to work with you. That means don’t just share selfies of yourself but instead post photos depicting what it is that inspires or interests you — whether it’s food, beauty, fashion, or fitness. Then, be active in the comments section of other profiles so that people can see who you are and connect with you on social media. Create a mailing list to keep in touch with your audience and tell them about your life and experiences. If you already have a website, add opt-in forms to it so that people can sign up for updates.
4. Build up your following
by sharing high-quality photos that are relevant to the audience you want to reach. Use relevant hashtags, engage with your followers, and build relationships by liking photos that are similar to the ones you post. Also, join communities or groups of other people who share common interests on Instagram where you can build relationships or establish yourself in an area of expertise or by providing value. You can do this on Facebook as well.
5. Be consistent
Post at least once per day or every other day so that people know when to expect new content, but don’t overdo it. A good rule of thumb is to post three photos per day or one photo every two days.
6. Develop relationships with brands
that might be interested in sponsoring you. Be active in your social media channels and promote the brands you want to work with on your other accounts so they can get more exposure. Brands will want to see whether or not you’re promoting them through several of your owned platforms (i.e., Facebook page, Instagram stories, etc.) before agreeing to work with you since this reflects the reach of their campaign if they pay you for it. Make sure you are tagging the brands in your posts to show them that you want to work with them.
7. Create an online portfolio
of your work to show to potential sponsors. Brands will want to see what kind of content you are posting, so if they can’t find it on your accounts, you won’t be considered for a sponsored post. For this, your creativity is needed. You can create a video resume or attract brands by starting your own blog resume. This gives you the opportunity to show off your personality and expertise, all while building a brand for yourself.
In conclusion, becoming a social media influencer takes work but is possible if you are willing to put in the hours. You have to be creative, consistent, understand your target audience, and not be afraid of working hard. Even if you get rejected by one brand, keep applying until you get your first sponsored post!