What does it take to succeed as a social media influencer? Do you need to have a cute face, a great bod, or a stunning personality?
I believe that anybody can be an influencer regardless of his or her seniority, age, societal status, personality or looks.
While it certainly helps if you have attained some real life acclaim, becoming an online influencer does require you to work on it fairly regularly and religiously.
Indeed, becoming an influencer isn’t just about posting your food or #OOTD photos on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Neither does it just come from writing and sharing about anything which crosses your mind on a particular day.
Rather, it is all about putting in place certain habits, routines and disciplines into your life.
So what exactly do successful social media influencers do?
#1 Successful influencers stick to the plot
Social media influencers are often mindful of their public persona. They know that it merely takes a moment of unthinking folly to unravel their hard-earned reputation. Thus, they are wary of how they should behave both online and offline.
Sticking to the plot, however, does not mean that you become a mere robot or a slave to your digital devices. Rather, it is about being authentic, transparent and consistent in how you relate to people in all circumstances.
Naturally, this varies from person to person. You can be consistently warm, gentle and loving or consistently badass, outspoken and independent minded.
It doesn’t matter what label you give yourself – or others give to you – so long as your personal brand identity is something you’re comfortable with.
#2 Successful influencers grow their networks
Contact by contact, friend by friend, social influencers make it a point to expand their social networks both online and offline.
Through platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and others, making friends is as easy as just adding somebody online. Find kindred spirits and like-minded folks who can appreciate what you have to offer.
However, do be careful about spamming folks unnecessarily. Some people are more selective than others in whom they add online. Having said that, I always believe that if you are open, sincere and genuine in making a connection, the chances are good that your requests to connect will be accepted.
#3 Successful influencers regularly create content
In a 24/7 world dominated by mobile social networks, online silence isn’t golden. Thought leaders, taste makers, and social media influencers are often in the news because they produce and share compelling content.
Loosely speaking, “content” in my mind can be anything from starting a company to launching a product, publishing a book, writing a blog post, snapping an Instagram photo, or designing an infographic.
The key thing here is that it must be something that is interesting, relevant and useful to your communities.
(Read How Social Media Influencers Do Content Marketing to learn more.)
#4 Successful influencers are generous to a fault
An influencer is considered a leader amongst his or her followers – be it a crowd of a hundred, a thousand or a million. Being a leader, you should constantly find ways to add value to your fanbase.
The more you are willing to share and give gifts that are of value to another person, the higher your chances of attracting a following. Remember that reciprocity is one of the weapons of influence (read Who’s Your Influencer to learn more).
Being generous also means helping other people to achieve greater success in their online marketing efforts. This can be anything from sharing a blog post, retweeting a link, to adding a comment to a Facebook post and tagging friends who may benefit from them.
#5 Successful influencers are un-distracted
By now, you probably heard of a million reasons why you should not sleep with your smart phone.
While I am not a purist in having “digital free” days (well at least not yet), I believe strongly that the most productive influencers are those able to shut off the alluring siren calls of their devices so that they can focus on producing great art.
To do so, you need to introduce a schedule, and stick to it religiously. For example, you could devote an hour or two every week or so to blog, or spend time every day reading about what’s new and trending in your preferred areas of interest.
Don’t forget to also rest and exercise – influencing is hard work and you need to recharge!
#6 Successful influencers befriend other influencers
No influencer is an island, least of all a social media influencer!
Find opportunities to get together with other influencers in your area of expertise. Hob nob with other food, fashion, toy collecting, gardening, business or technology influencers every now and then.
While there may inevitably be some friendly competition between you guys, chances are that the pie is large enough for all of you to share. It is also a good practice to like and comment on the posts of other influencers, or even share what they have to offer.
Remember the golden rule…
Do unto others what you want others to do unto you!
#7 Successful influencers refresh and reinvent themselves
In today’s super-fast social media scene, staying status quo is tantamount to career suicide for social media influencers. Every now and then, these opinion shapers actively evaluate themselves to see how they can improve.
As an influencer, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I growing or stagnating as an influencer?
- What are my best performing posts? Why do they gather more traction?
- Where do I suck at? How can I improve my influence in those areas?
- How are my online channels doing (eg blog, Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, Instagram account, etc)? Which ones are most effective in generating click-throughs, engagement or leads?
- Are there any creative ideas that other influencers are doing which I can apply to my social channels?
The most popular and enduring influencers are not afraid to continually reinvent themselves when the occasion calls for it. They know that while staying “on brand” is key to maintaining fan love, refreshing their affections and drawing new ones may require them to change their image, styling and even genres.
Speaking from personal experience, reinvention isn’t an easy exercise. There are ingrained behaviours cultivated from years of exposure that you need to change. However, it can be an exciting and fruitful exercise if done right.
Are there other habits for social media influencers to embrace? I’d love to hear your thoughts!