What It Really Means To Be A Social Media Influencer

In this new world of social media marketing, there is a common misconception about influencers: They have it easy. All [influencers] do is ‘take a selfie with a product, post it on Instagram, and the money magically appears in their bank account.’ -Actual quote from Haters Digest

Pictured: Ashley Hargrove — commercial advertising wardrobe stylist, model and fashion blogger who also has an incredible Instagram (@dtkaustin) that she uses to collaborate with brands she loves. Photo Credit: Preston Culver

While there are many articles about the phenom that is the six-figure blogger, those depictions are not indicative of the the vast majority of influencers. Many influencers are people that were drawn to the authenticity of being able to share what they are passionate about with the world. And this passion exudes trust in the people that follow these influencers. Studies show that ‘consumers trust social media stars more than celebrities or ads.’

Years ago, influencer marketing had no rules. It was the wild, wild west trying to figure out how to tap into someone who could reach the most people for your brand. This has changed, and for most marketers, it’s really all about engagement — the percentage of your followers that comment, like, or share your content.

Even if you’ve spent 3 hard years building a loyal following of 100,000 DIY enthusiasts, your main attraction to marketers is going to be the engagement that your previous posts have shown. And in a world where algorithms change faster than Donald Trump’s Twitter opinion, it’s A LOT of work to consistently keep that engagement rate high…unless of course, you buy it, which is the fastest way to ruin your credibility. And if you didn’t realize people actually buy their ‘influence,’ you should read this blog post from Austin-based wardrobe stylist, Ashely Hargrove.

For those who really care about real interactions with real people, there is a grind behind the scenes that is invisible to the rest of us who scroll through the finished product. Like anything worth doing, it’s worth doing right. On the surface, it may seem like the dream job for a millennial. But it’s actually a tough gig. Take a look at what really goes into an influencer’s to-do list:

  1. Sort through dozens of emails and direct messages about potential collaborations to find one that you have a true affinity for.
  2. Develop a relationship with the brand and learn about what they are looking to do from a marketing standpoint.
  3. Agree to the full details of a campaign brief, which can sometimes include up to 20 different individual instructions on how to post, what time to post, what can’t be included, etc.
  4. Arrange a product shoot that fits your style and appeals to your audience. Don’t be fooled by how easy it is to take a picture on your phone. This still requires the influencer to find/schedule someone to take the picture, take enough photos for the brand to have options, and edit every one of them in a professional manner. This ain’t your average ‘selfie.’
  5. Send all of your content back to the brand to approve.
  6. Find a good time to post the content so that it performs during peak activity hours.
  7. Schedule time after you post the content to be active on social media. This can sometimes take 2 hours to achieve proper results.
  8. Follow up with the brand to continue the relationship and make sure they are satisfied with the collaboration.

The above scenario doesn’t even touch on bloggers who sometimes do lengthy write-ups on top of all of this. The points is: these steps add up. And for many influencers, this isn’t even their full-time job! They do these collaborations because they are genuinely passionate about a specific industry or hobby (hence why they’ve been able to accrue such large followings).

At the end of the day, the word ‘influencer’ is really just an industry term. ​They’re real people with opinions and a platform on which to share them, not ads that you buy with the click of a button.