Calling all low-effort entrepreneurs your time is now! I finally have an easy business for you 😀 Haha just kidding. Or am I?
An online influencer is defined as “someone who has the power to affect others’ purchasing decisions because of their authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with their audience, – a following in a distinct niche, with whom they actively engage.”
A social media influencer business leverages (or monetizers) their following for marketing purposes usually via sponsored posts but also through launching (or at least branding) their own products.
The way to understand social media is to see it as just another form of media: radio, television, print, just more interactive and with immediate feedback.
And just as popular individuals in “old” media became celebrities and gotten following (readership, listeners, circulation, eyeballs etc.) gotten endorsements, written a book or launched a product so we have seen it in social media.
Depending on the niche/category or platform (Instagram/Twitter/YouTube etc.) this business usually evolves from wearing or reviewing products you paid for, for free (or eating them), to getting products (usually in advance) for free to review to sponsored posts to custom-branded products.
How to start this business
You need to do something or be something that attracts a following that advertisers and marketers want to reach (advertise to) people through you. Now social media by nature is very vain so thin beautiful ladies will usually gain traction quicker but not exclusively, its just that some things are more suited for social for example more people will be interested in makeup tutorials than nuclear physics.
Choosing a niche or category
Some things on social media do better than others, but is also very competitive, these include, makeup, modelling, fitness. These type of categories also do better on visual platforms such as Instagram and YouTube.
Obviously, if you going to influence anybody you need to look the part and have some type of knowledge, you can’t apply makeup like a clown and get a beauty following (you might get a fancy dress or costume following), you can’t be fat and be a fitness influencer and you can’t be ugly and be a model.
However all is not lost, here are some niche’s where looks are not important, you can even be fat.
Vape reviews is a popular social media category with YouTube being the most popular platform. This is a niche that follows the common trajectory: review for free, review for money and launch their own product (in conjunction with a manufacturer).
This can be unboxing, reviews, teardowns etc.
Toy reviews etc.
Reviewing sweets from around the world.
Then there is some interesting and weird stuff that has entered the mainstream.
Here is one that does not matter how fat you are. You are basically filming yourself eating. I don’t know how popular this is from a marketing perspective as in how many brands want to sponsor people stuffing their faces?
ASMR – The Internet subculture of “Sounds That Feel Good”
Another weird subculture that has gone mainstream, I don’t know how many companies there are that will integrate their products into this.
Where do social media influencer fit in and what are the benefits
When you start out you will be part of another company’s (sometimes direct, sometimes via an agent) marketing and promotional activities and might even become a sales channel in future (once buy buttons are integrated into social media accounts).
When you start to launch a product or your own brand, then things get interesting because you can promote your business without spending money on advertising and marketing.
The abovementioned are the exclusive social media domain, however, there are a few different scenarios where the business model is different, these are when offline businesses move online and other examples such as when an influencer offers services offline such as photography and they use it as a marketing tool. But also offline businesses such as modelling houses that use social media as a tool.
The social media influencer value chain
The thing about this business is, you don’t have to be the influencer, like any business this “industry” has a value chain.
This range from management, handling enquiries, negotiating deals. Video editing, photo manipulation (removing that unsightly cellulite) etc.
This can be operating a studio that writes the content.
With YouTube and TikTik we’ve seen “content houses” where influencers live and create content.
The pitfalls of this business
This business has some pitfalls and you might not be able to be yourself. Like any media marketing, brands want to work with people that don’t make them look bad. The problem with social media is that you have a very toxic mix of people watching your every move: haters, social justice warriors, stupid people, a very toxic “cancel culture” that is not very tolerant. These people don’t have common sense and you might very well see your income evaporate overnight due to one “bad” move. It might also get dangerous with death threats, as we saw with the model Shashi Naidoo when she waded into the Palestinian-Israeli quagmire. Either STFU on contentious matters (unless you a geopolitical analyst) or know your stuff (and consequences) before you hit the post button.
You have to be very leery against swimming against the tide. Another problem is how honest you can be when reviewing if you too critical brands might not work with you but you might also lose credibility if you too positive about a rubbish product. Or the quality of products that you launch can’t be rubbish or then you just look like a profiteer.
Next time I want to look deeper into this business especially the stages from starting and reviewing stuff you paid for and managing and growing the account. But that’s all for now. Don’t forget to like and subscribe….just joking