Quick: can you name five social media influencers (Kardashians all count as one)? Who did you come up with? Liza Koshy? Lily Singh? James Charles? Those are just some of the top names in 2022 social media influencer circles, even if they have already secured multimillion-dollar contracts and have massive media exposure.

As you aspire to become a social media influencer yourself, you should keep atop names like Amanda Cerny, Jack Morris and Caspar Lee, as well as those already mentioned. They are all stars of the influencing world and they each promote different 'products', from makeup and style to tech entrepreneurship.

That just goes to show that no aspect of today's human experience, from work to wellness, is impervious to influence from social media. It also proves that, though influencer marketing is already a billion-dollar business, it's set to grow even more in the coming years.

How about grabbing a slice of that pie for yourself? It's not hard to get started, especially not if you already have a decent social media following.

The quickest way to social media earnings:
1. Choose your platform.
2. What's your angle?
3. Create multiple hashtags.
4. Diversify your partnerships.
5. Promote yourself.

And the best part is, you don't even have to sell anything! Right now, hundreds of social media influencers are making money without hawking a single ware.

Do you want to know how they do it? Let Superprof take you beyond those five basic steps and lay it all out for you.

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Choose Your Platform(s)

If you're considering building a career as a social media influencer, there's a strong possibility that you are already a social media user and consumer. You likely also know that no social media platform is guaranteed relevance or longevity. Remember MySpace, Vine and others that went the way of the dinosaurs after only a short life?

As versatile and popular as Vine was - at one time, it had more than 200 million subscribers, it only lasted about three years.

That six-second looping video hosting service is an excellent case in point of why you need to carefully study and choose which platforms you will operate on. A platform's popularity isn't an indicator that you will be popular, either, so it's best to go with well-established, time-tested and financially sound platforms.

That means Facebook, right? Not exactly.

According to the latest statistics, most influencers prefer:

  • Instagram: 99% of all influencers say this is their platform of choice.
  • Facebook comes in second, with a little more than 70% of influencers claiming usage.
  • Snapchat claims 46% of the influencers' loyalty.
  • Twitter clocks in with just over 42% of influencer traffic
  • YouTube is home to nearly 37% of influencers' efforts
  • Pinterest rounds out the major selections with just a little over 27% of influencers claiming to post there

Admittedly, Facebook owns Instagram so you could argue that FB is the influencer gold standard but the smart influencer engages with people across several platforms, only two of which are Facebook and Instagram. And besides, as media consumers prefer visual content - photos and videos rather than anything written, Insta would naturally pull ahead of Facebook.

If you're looking to make money in the media and want to maximise your exposure - thus, your chance at earning more, you should select one primary platform to post content on and use your other social media accounts to direct traffic to it.

Keep ahead of your stats with a subscription service
You should subscribe to an analytical service to keep on top of your statistics. Photo by Georgia de Lotz on Unsplash

Influencer Network Membership

Once you launch your influencer brand, it's not simply a matter of producing content and monitoring how many new followers you gain with each new post; you'll need in-depth analytics that shows how much traffic you're getting and how your influence is growing. And, more importantly, your rank among all the other social media influencers.

Lucky for you, there's an app for that. Several of them, actually.

Bandwatch is overwhelmingly preferred by social media influencers everywhere. This subscription service, based in the UK, tracks all manner of media including social media and delivers customized user statistics about who their audience is, where they stand in polling, the degree of influence they have and ranks influencers' online presence.

That's another reason why you need to be active across several social media accounts. The broader your presence across all platforms, the higher your ranking and visibility.

That's not all these services do.

Let's pretend your social media is full of food; pictures of you cooking and baking, chopping and dicing. Maybe even a few videos of you narrating a recipe as you create a dish. And, apparently, you're really good at what you do because you have lots of followers.

Influencer networks don't just track your social media activity, they also share your stats and an overview of your content with brands related to your content. To keep with our cooking scenario: brands like OXO, Breville and Dexas would be drawn to your content because their products fit your niche.

All of these tools and more are available on Brandwatch. It is the most popular of services platforms but you could also turn to Cloze.com, Commun.it, Klout or Engagio.

You don't need to worry about how sponsors will negotiate with you; these brands can contact you across your influencer network platform. That's another tool these services offer to help you grow both your social media presence and your business.

If you were starting to get an idea of how social media influencers make money before, now you know how social media platforms make money. Adverts aren't their only recourse!

Partner with brands that contribute to your sphere of influence
As a food influencer, you may partner with many different companies, from dinnerware brands to kitchen gadget makers. Photo by Ibrahim Boran on Unsplash

On Choosing Partners

If you don't mind promoting products, as most influencers do, don't let the huge number of influencers already at work deter you. In today's marketing strategies, diversity is key. Thus, many brands work with several influencers to get word of their products out.

And now, for a less savoury aspect of the influencer industry.

Big-name labels have no qualms about ditching an influencer if someone new and more 'attractive' is making waves across social media. And there doesn't even have to be a better, splashier influencer; brands will simply get the most they can from you before your rates get too high.

There's not much you can do about that other than knowing your worth and negotiating terms favourable to you - rather than simply accepting what is offered. However, you don't have to partner with a brand or show anyone's products in your posts; you can partner with an app or web service, instead.

Let's say you're a travel influencer. Logically, you'd partner with travel-related companies like Booking, Airbnb and the like. And then, in your bio, list who you're partnered with. This is a more passive type of promotion that doesn't require you to build your videos around a product or include them in your shows.

You can also build your brand around a service you provide. If you're a certified yoga teacher or fitness professional, a cake decorator or flower arranger, you can let it be known you are available for lessons, coaching or as a custom cake maker for special occasions. Again, you only need to include this information in your bio but you can mention it in your videos, as well.

Also, take a moment to discover how media is financed.

All influencers must disclose all partnerships.
This Portuguese influencer must disclose which books she presents on her channel. Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash

Full Disclosure

The public is fickle and no people are more fickle than the audience betrayed by their favourite influencer. The last few years have seen several popular influencers fall from grace; remember how viciously everyone turned against James Charles? He's back on top of things now but, for a while, his future as an influencer was touch and go.

His tumble didn't have anything to do with the promotion of his products. His personal transgressions and subsequent handling of the situation let his public down but, notably, never has he forgotten to disclose his brand partners. You shouldn't either.

Laws about disclosure vary from country to country but the rule to go by is: if you are using another brand's products in your media, you must tell people about it. Furthermore, you must mention the brand by name, not any type of cleverly coded hashtag or Twitter nick.

Disclosure is not limited to mentioning your brand-partner's name in your videos, either. You should also include it in the video's description.

Even if you have a personal relationship with the brand in question - maybe it's your family's business that you're not getting paid to endorse, you must still disclose that you have a material connection with them.

Many product-partners will give their influencers gifts to give away, as a way to help the influencer build their audience (and also to help promote their products). If you receive such a trove to give out, you must tell your audience who the gift is from.

As you engage with your audience, remember that disclosing your partnerships keeps things honest and aboveboard. Your relationship with your followers is trust-based and any violation of that trust could signal the end of your influencer career. And get you in legal trouble, too.

Now, join the conversation: what do you think of the public media being privatised?

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