If you’ve got a following on a major platform like Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Snapchat, or Twitter, chances are it’s worth something.
Companies recognize the value of a loyal following, and are increasingly turning to social media influencers to promote their products. In 2015, social media ad spending exceeded $23 billion worldwide, and is expected to increase, meaning there’s a huge opportunity for social influencers to cash in.
Social media influencers serve as a bridge connecting brands to consumers. They leverage the relationship and trust they have with their followers to recommend products on behalf of brands. Typically, this kind of advertising generates twice the salesof paid advertising, making it the go-to route for brands.
With a following of 15,000 on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you could make $700 for a single sponsored post.
CEO of the Idaho-based digital marketing agency Boise Digital, Conrad scouts social media influencers to represent a host of different brands — including GrassCity, the world’s largest online headshop. His eye is trained to look for qualities in a social influencer that make them marketable.
I caught up with Conrad about his social media strategy on this week’s episode of Unconventional Life, “Expand Your Income: Your Social Media Following Is Worth More Than You Think.”
Conrad’s marketing genius stems from a combination of luck, wit, and opportunity. The 22-year-old says he has no formal business training besides that of Reddit mentors in the community “r/Entrepreneur.” It was there he learned vital skills like building a Shopify account, met his first business partner, and even attracted an angel investor.
“It was a mixture between hands on experience and doing things, combined with talking to people who are out there in real life doing it themselves, combined with online resources going through threads and reading people’s stories,” Conrad says.
With the Internet as his guide, Conrad launched his first company, Hippies Hope, an online retail store donating a meal to a person in need with every purchase. One day, sales skyrocketed after a popular country singer recommended Hippies Hope to his Facebook audience of 2 million, alerting Conrad to the potential of social media marketing.
Soon, Conrad sold Hippies Hope to create the marketing agency Boise Digital. Today, Boise Digital connects various brands with social media influencers who promote their products. Conrad is constantly on the search for new influencers who will give his brands an edge.
Below, Conrad shares the five things you should do in order to turn your following into a profitable business and make money as an influencer.
1. Quantify your following. The bigger your audience, the easier it is for a brand to say yes — after all, they’re looking for exposure to as many people they can get. A following of 10,000 is typically a sufficient base level to start being profitable. Assess your reach, number of followers, fans, etc. From there, you’ll want to show brands you are a viable business that has potential to scale. Knowing how brands think and assess social media ROI will be an invaluable tool.
2. Experiment with your audience. Brands want to see your content being viewed and interacted with. Are your photos getting likes and comments? Are your videos being watched? Aim to create engaging content that your audience will pay attention to. See what type of content gets the most reaction and keep experimenting to get maximum engagement. This will help when brands ask you about how to align with your most popular content.
3. Target a niche. Keep your content focused around a particular theme or niche. Maybe you post about cycling, or graphic design, or raw foods. Whatever it is you choose, stay committed to the broader topic so your community consists of like-minded individuals. This can easily help brands determine if your audience is right for their product. On the flip side, having a mixed audience can be a turn-off as the response to a particular product is hard to predict.
4. Own your influence. Identify as a social influencer in your branding of yourself. Make it known to followers that you are open for business and available for sponsorships. You might display this on your Instagram bio, your Youtube channel art, or your Facebook cover banner so it becomes a focal point of your profile.
5. Reach out to brands. Contact brands whose products align with your content. Be sure to include important details like how big your following is, where your niche is, and why it will benefit them to work with you. Oftentimes taking the first step is the only thing standing between you and your dream sponsorship. You’ve got to let sponsors know you exist — what better way than to tell them?
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