Do You Have What It Really Takes To Be An Influencer?

The term “influencer” gets tossed around pretty loosely these days. Between self-proclaimed wannabe #influencers and the saturation of social media into daily life, to changing marketing, and advertising strategies, the concept of an influencer has become well known. It’s a title — and an accompanying lifestyle — that’s a coveted one.

But what does it take to be an influencer? The short answer is a lot more than the average person would assume.

“The biggest misconception about influencers is that it’s easy and anyone can do it,” said Emily Ward, co-founder of Shine Influencers, a global talent management and influencer relations agency. “The talent we’ve signed have worked hard to develop their personal voice and the look and feel of their platforms. Many of them are writers or photographers and have invested time in knowing their audience, learning how to share information in a way that genuinely adds value.” Ward and her partner, Jess Hunichen, launched Shine Influencers in 2015 in response to a gap in the growing market. They were one of the first in Canada to do so.

 

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As in any profession, there are a few rookie mistakes budding influencers can make — and once they’re out there in the social media world, they can ruin reputations before you land your first big campaign. “A big mistake new influencers can make is not taking the time to determine their place in the landscape,” says Ward. “Just like a product or service in any another category, an influencer needs to be filling a unique need in the marketplace, know who their consumer is and define their offering accordingly.” So, you need to offer more than your need to be insta-famous, as exciting or as good looking as you may be (though those things can sometimes help your cause).

In addition to offering value, there’s a lot of hard work that goes into becoming a successful influencer: it’s not just about unboxing luxurious deliveries and posting perfectly edited pictures.

siffat Haider
Instagram/@icingandglitter

The bottom line is that you need to be a savvy businessperson — and driven. “You need to be extremely disciplined. I hope that people are starting to realize that the life of a content creator is far from just glamour. We wear a ton of hats. For me, those hats include writer, creative director, model, editor, interviewer, PR person, and so much more,” says Siffat Haider of @icingandglitter. “In order to ensure efficiency, I batch out my days; for example, Mondays are for writing, Tuesdays are for all things podcast — pitching, writing interview questions, and recording intros — Wednesdays are for content creation. If I have to shoot anything, it’s usually done on a Wednesday as Thursdays are for videos and Fridays for anything left over.”

For those just starting out, building a brand often means balancing all of the hard work with full-time jobs until they are ready to leave them.

“As much a this is a social space, investing time in live events, meetings and networking is what will connect you to opportunities and genuinely grow your community,” says Hunichen. If you think you have what it takes, the sooner you start, the better. “Something I wish people had told me when I started was to just do it. I put off starting a blog for so long out of fear of what people would think,” said Haider. “The truth is, most people are too busy worrying about what other people think of them to really think of you. As for the people who have something bad to say? They have their own insecurities that they’re projecting onto you. The only people whose opinions matter are those who are supportive and kind, and chances are those are the ones who are fulfilled with their own lives, and the people you want to surround yourself with anyway.”

 

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While many influencers manage every aspect of their business, there may come a time when seeking representation may make the most sense. “Talent should be looking at representation when they are experiencing a high enough interest from brands and agencies and they’re ready to take their brand to the next level,” says Hunichen.

While the term “influencer” may admittedly be getting a bad rep by some thanks to the oversaturation of the wannabes, we’ve recently seen the emergence of ways to weed out the ones who won’t actually help your brand.

“Many influencer database platforms have been launched that are focused on the impression numbers versus the true influence of the creator,” says Hunichen. “Brands need to access a strategic agency that can be a guide to discern which influencers have the potential to be genuinely impactful for their campaign and which simply have impression numbers as their offering.”

 

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In general, get into it for the right intention. “Get into this industry because you love to create, not because you want to make money,” says Haider.

And — by all means — don’t add “influencer” to your Instagram bio unless you’ve earned the title.

Featured Image: Instagram/@lapetitnoob

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