In more recent years, we’ve seen an explosion of popularity in content creators across platforms such as YouTube, Twitch and TikTok. The term creator is generally associated with those who create videos based on a specific niche for a target audience. While content creators have dominated the social media scene for a while, a new contender stepped into the spotlight in the last couple of years — the influencer. But, here’s the question; what is an influencer? How are they different from your typical YouTuber or TikToker?
The influencer defined
There has been much debate as to what the difference is between a content creator and an influencer. When you take a step back, they are very much the same thing. They create content around a specific genre for a target audience. So, what really sets them apart? Well, their objectives are a little different.
While the content creator creates for the purpose of enjoyment and community building, the influencer puts out content that attracts potential brand deals. (That’s not to say that influencers don’t build a sense of community with their followers.)
They essentially market themselves to be appealing to brands that fit in their niche.
The rise of the influencer
So, when did the term influencer become a thing? Well, it’s hard to pinpoint. Over the past ten years, social media has exploded, particularly Instagram. As the platform grew, more people built their followings and many have grown to have hundreds of thousands of followers.
At some point, brands began to harness the power of Instagram accounts with large followings. A third-party entity, like an influencer, is often more appealing and trustworthy than the brand itself.
It seems brands realized Instagram — and other platforms — provided them with something they didn’t know they needed; trustworthy people with large followings to promote their products.
The responsibilities of being an influencer
Influencers have several responsibilities they need to fulfill to achieve and maintain success. The main tasks of the influencer are to build trust in their community, post consistent content and strike brand deals.
One of the responsibilities of the influencer is to build trust in their communities. They should establish their personal brand around being a reliable and trustworthy leader within their niche. This is what makes them appealing to potential brands, as it reflects the influencer’s power over their audience.
To stay relevant, influencers need to post content consistently and regularly to their social media feeds. This doesn’t necessarily need to be across multiple platforms, although having a multi-platform presence helps expand audience reach and promote growth.
Uploading content consistently not only brings in more followers, but it also makes them more marketable to brands.
Reaching out to brands
The goal of many influencers is to work with brands that they themselves support. If the influencer has a big enough following, they likely have brands in their inboxes frequently.
But what about influencers with smaller audiences? In many cases, smaller influencers must take it upon themselves to reach out to brands they want to work with.
When approaching brands, influencers need to have a pitch ready with stats such as follower count, audience demographic, retention, etc. Approaching a brand with stats and a great pitch is key.
Perks of being an influencer
There are many benefits to being an influencer, which is why it’s appealing to so many people.
One of the most obvious perks influencers benefit from is receiving free perks from brands. Oftentimes, brands will reach out to influencers they want to work with by sending free products for them to try. Who doesn’t love free stuff?
Paid to post content
Influencers get paid to post branded content. If a brand reaches out and wants to work with an influencer, the influencer has a say on how much they charge for an ad or sponsored post. This is their ultimate goal — to strike a brand deal and get paid to post.
Creating your own schedule
The beauty of being an influencer is you work on your own time. If an influencer is full-time, they have the power and luxury to create their own schedules. Even if someone is a part-time influencer, they have the power to post and work when they want to.
Downsides of being an influencer
While there are many perks of being an influencer, there are also many drawbacks.
Building an audience is tough
Often, brands want to work with influencers that have a significant following. To build an audience, influencers need to post consistently and regularly. However, doing so doesn’t guarantee followers. It takes a lot of time and hustle to build a significant audience.
Being an influencer doesn’t mean consistent money. Money comes with the brand deals, and there may be times where influencers go through a dry spell. It’s essential for full-time influencers to budget money carefully.
Paving the way forward
While the concept of being an influencer is similar to being a creator, the two have different end goals. The influencer career has risen in popularity over the last few years and it’s here to stay.