Social influencers are the celebrities of the interwebs. Marketers worship them, brands love them and the rest of us hang on their every post. In a recent study, 40% of respondents had bought something online after seeing an influencer use it on Instagram, Twitter or YouTube. Yeah, power is pretty cool. But if you dream of making it big on social media, there’s some stuff you should keep in mind.

Know What You’re Selling

I’m not saying you need to rush out and open an Etsy store. You don’t have to be an entrepreneur to be a social influencer. But people are only going to take interest in your content if they get something out of it—whether that’s healthy dessert recipes, travel inspiration or an appreciation for slow living. Whatever it is, you need to nail that shit down early. That’s what you’re going to be known for, and that’s what should drive everything you create.

Pro Tip: Looks matter, and your brand has to have visual appeal. Think gorgeous photos and well-chosen colors. This isn’t just superficial—well-designed content is easier for people to read, and consistency helps build your brand.

Find Your People

Feet on sidewalk with text What do you love talking about most? If you could look at one kind of content all day, what would it be? Seek out others who feel the same way, and join the conversation. There’s no point in building a Twitter account with thousands of followers if you hate what you’re writing about, and you’re not interested in what your followers have to say.

“You want your social media presence to reflect YOU. This means you shouldn’t have to pander to other people’s interests or what’s trending in the realm of social media,” says Nicole Wong, whose popular Instagram account focuses on design, travel and music.

Pro Tip: Once you’ve found your people, stay in the conversation. Make sure you’re posting regularly, or people will forget about you. Harsh but true.

Keep it Real

Nobody likes a phony, least of all Holden Caulfield. Think critically about the value of each thing you post. What is it giving to your followers? How is it helping support your personal brand? If the answers are nothing, and it isn’t, cut it.

If you’re only interested in becoming a social influencer for money or freebies, that’s going to be obvious in your content. Sure, T Swift can command $230,000 for a single brand post—but she didn’t wake up one morning and decide to make a fortune on social media, did she? She focused on doing what she loves. The point of becoming a social influencer is in the name: influence, not affluence. If you get anything else out of it, think of it as a bonus.

Pro Tip: Do a frequent audit of your posts: if you came across your feed, would you find your content interesting and relevant, or shallow and salesy? If you’re not sure, ask a trusted/heartless friend with a top-notch bullshit detector.

Focus on Organic Growth

Filtered light through a forestPeople who follow a thousand people at once and unfollow them all the next day kind of suck, right? Don’t just go fishing for followers. Instead, build a following by engaging in real conversations. Like posts you actually like, leave thoughtful comments that go beyond “great shot!”, and stay engaged with your followers.

Sure, there are tons of hacks to get more followers. But the types of people who want to “follow 4 follow” aren’t really interested in what you’re doing, and they aren’t going to add any value. To be effective, you’ve got to build a following the old-fashioned way: with high-quality, timely content posted on a regular basis.

Pro Tip: “Be patient,” says Wong. “Instead of ‘cheating’ your way to being an influencer, take your time. Organic growth is a thousand times more valuable.”

Play Nice

This should go without saying, but don’t be a troll. That’s not to say your personal brand can’t be sassy, edgy, and full of delightful snark—in fact, we encourage it ? But leave the personal attacks to the monsters under the bridge. Everyone who gets big has haters—mute them, move past them and focus on the good stuff. Your content is popular for a reason.

The Key Takeaway: If you only learn one thing from this, it should be that authenticity wins in the end. Being yourself and sharing your experiences in a natural way is the best way to get others to relate to and share your content. The path to Internet stardom lies ahead!
Celebrating on the red carpet with confetti
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