No one can argue that the social media influencer business is booming. In 2021 alone, it is estimated that influencer marketing will be worth $13.8 billion. Brands from all over the world are looking to partner with influencers to expand their reach, drive traffic to their website, and grow their social media followers. This is great news for people trying to break into influencer marketing, but with immense popularity comes increased competition. How do you know how to be an influencer when you’re new to the game?
Full-time influencers want to partner with as many relevant brands as they can. But you’ll need to know how to stand out in a sea of influencers first. If you’re just starting to dip your toes into the influencer marketing game, we’ve got some tips—from a brand’s perspective—on how to be a good influencer that will help you attract more collaborations.
There are lots of influencers out there. Brands won’t notice you if you’re doing the same thing as everybody else in your niche. Be authentic— and don’t be afraid to show your quirks! There’s no one else like you out there so share your opinions, worldview, and personal stories to make your personal brand more unique. There is a caveat though. It’s usually best to keep controversial topics to a minimum or completely off your public social media account (think: politics or anything polarizing).
Stay in your lane, mostly
Brands look for influencers that are influential in their industry. That means choosing your niche and sticking with it in your content. A yoga brand is looking for fitness influencers, a makeup brand is looking for beauty influencers, a cutting board brand is looking for food influencers.
If you’ve built a following as a wine influencer, don’t suddenly start posting about the tribulations of potty training your kids. You’ll just confuse your audience and probably lose some followers and engagement in the process.
However, there are always exceptions. A lifestyle influencer posts about their whole life and can work with a variety of brands as long as they fit into their lifestyle. A good example is Whitney Rife Becker. She posts about fashion, beauty, travel, food, family, and everything in between. People follow her because they like her and trust her opinion in general.
A healthy following
Brands usually look for influencers with 10,000 followers or more to take advantage of swipe up in stories. There are definitely brands that are happy with nano influencers, people with 5,000 - 10,000 followers, but they are more rare.
Focus on increasing your follower count—but do it authentically! Don’t buy followers to inflate the numbers because that won’t work in your favor (see below for more on this). Instead, try boosting your following by:
Hosting a giveaway with a brand. When you’re just starting out, offer to do a giveaway with an organization you believe in for free to boost your numbers with their products as the reward.
Posting more often. It’s great to post three times a week and story on the off days. Even if it’s a quick share or repost of something you like, your followers want to hear from you!
Using relevant hashtags for your industry and things that your followers would be interested in
Creating IGTV videos or Reels instead of just posting static images. Don’t be afraid to try the new features that Instagram launches. It’s thought that Instagram rewards first adopters in their algorithm to make sure the feature is successful.
Joining forces with other influencers to promote each other or partner on a giveaway
Posting comments on other, larger influencer accounts providing valuable insights to what they are talking about in their caption (and no, not “you look so pretty! 💖” They only way to stand out is to take time on a response and make your comment really resonate.)
Replying to DMs and comments to build a connection to your followers
Check out our organic Instagram growth blog for more tips on growing your following the right way.
While your follower count is important, brands care more about your engagement rate almost as much. Does your content actually resonate with your followers?
If you aren’t sure about your engagement rate, you can calculate it by taking your total engagement (likes, comments, shares, bookmarks, link clicks, sticker taps) and dividing by your total followers, then multiplying that by 100.
Every influencer and influencer category is different, of course, but depending on the number of followers you have, these are the engagement rates we look for in influencer partners:
Nano influencer (fewer than 10,000 followers): 8%
Micro influencer (10,000 - 100,000 followers): 4%
Macro influencer (more than 100,000 followers): 2%
And don’t forget to respond to every comment on your posts! It helps them feel more connected to you and boosts your engagement rate, too.
Make sure you’re creating high-quality content every time. Your images should be nicely styled, with a filter or preset added. Consider the overall impression your page gives to people; you want a beautiful, cohesive aesthetic with a coordinated color scheme. Light and bright presets are pretty popular or fun with pops of color if that’s more of your personality.
If you aren’t sure how people perceive your content, check out your Instagram analytics to see which posts resonate most with your audience. From there, you can figure out which types of content or image presets get the most likes.
Another thing to keep in mind is that full-time influencers will write longer, more conversational captions that tell a story. Make sure you put some time into captions!
The right amount of experience
We certainly aren’t looking for an influencer that posts nothing but product endorsements (followers want recommendations for products you get excited about and really like). However, they aren’t looking for someone new to the game either. With anything, there are nuances for newbies and brands usually don’t want to have to work around the learning curve.
Brands have a limited budget that they try to maximize each month. First you should know what similar influencers in your space are getting paid for posts and stories (don’t be afraid to ask them!) and come up with a number you’re comfortable with based on the engagement you get and quality of content. But it’s always good if you’re willing to lower your price or come up with alternatives to the full payment when needed. In the past, we’ve negotiated with influencers to accept the lower budget the brand has allocated but we send more products or offer an affiliate program to make everyone happy.
What NOT to do
Sometimes being a good influencer is also about not doing certain things. These actions almost always backfire, so don’t do any of these no-no's:
If a brand asks for how many impressions and actions you normally get on stories, be honest. Don’t send them your highest day ever. When they get the metrics from their campaign, they will be disappointed —and they won’t want to work with you again.
We mentioned this before, but it’s important: Don’t buy followers or engagement. Any good influencer marketer will be able to tell. These bot accounts don’t have a profile picture, are international accounts that are private and have 1 post, comment generic things like “nice pic” or “thanks for sharing,” and/or they follow hundreds or thousands of people but no one follows them.
Don’t game the system with comment pods (relationships between influencers where they like, comment, and share each other’s content). Besides having your followers think you’re being disingenuous, you risk getting banned from the platform and losing your brand partnerships altogether if/when Instagram figures it out.
The bottom line
Influencer marketing can be a fun and lucrative business when you do it the right way! How to be an influencer: Stay true to who you are, create high-quality content, and engage with your audience genuinely. Before you know it, you’ll begin to make a name for yourself and attract the right brands for long-term partnerships.
Looking for more on social media influencers? Check out our other influencer marketing blogs on finding influencers for a campaign, affiliate marketing, and more!
Now that you have the follower count, engagement, and beautiful content, you’re ready to take the next step into collaborating with brands! Contact us to see if there’s a campaign that would be a good fit!