Even if you have just a thousand followers on social media, you can become the kind of influencer you have seen other people become. Since brands now get to work with as many quality influencers as they can find, you want to position yourself rightly to gain their attention.
Much more than getting their attention, you want to build a following that listens to you and loves you for who you are. After all, social media is for relationships, networking, and credible interaction.
So, how do you build influence that attracts brands to you?
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1. Document, don’t create’ – Gary Vaynerchuk
If you are all about creating an illusion or an acceptable version of yourself on social media, you lose your originality. Guess what, people can see through that but many do not mind. They would rather bask in a version of you they daydream for themselves or simply ‘unfollow’.
Brands, however, are going to have a problem working with you. Firstly, they are not able to discern your followers’ judgment of you. Secondly, they can’t be sure of who they are collaborating with – the real you or the social media version of you. Thirdly, they know for sure that you are never going to be communicating with your followers on their behalf from a place of honour, integrity, and originality.
Share with people, don’t create stories. Don’t go to Mount Everest to prove a point. Take really clear, professional pictures but make them your stories.
Sometimes brands approach me and I am like, whhoooo, guys. I do not have 10K followers to start with. So, what’s the catch here? I mean, maybe I do not feel this way about some certain brands but for some others? The big guys on the block? I am instantly taken aback.
The response is the same all the time. We want to work with true people.
The other day I took a picture of some very cheap shoes I bought (500 Naira per one) on a floor that isn’t tiled. Someone asked me to take it down because the totality of that post was not IG worthy.
I was so consumed with sharing that information that I didn’t remember to ‘create’. My sister had told me about this market. I mean, there was no harm in checking it out. I did and I was like… Woooooow. One of those shoes I wore last two Sundays and it felt like… Girrrrrrllll..
I shared and forgot to edit the portion of a room that was not tiled. But that is my story. My room in my parents’ house is not tiled.
2. “To thine own self be true” – Shakespeare
So, there are software through which brands analyze accounts. So best know that they know those with fake followers, fake likes, fake comments, fake everything!
Of course, some amount of fake accounts filter in but we are talking about a percentage that is very negligible to start with. If you, however, go in search of these bots, your account is going to be sidelined because the percentage is going to be that high.
Also, when building a personal brand, consistently churn out content but consistently check if they truly represent what you stand for, your message, your values.
I have had 3 bikini brands and one lingerie brand approach me in total but I turned them down every time because my followers do not follow the version of me that wears bras and pants on SM. I must tell you that it is hard. Sometimes the offer is so good, I am thinking about it. But really, if you ever saw me in a bikini, how would you feel?
This is not a stance against bikini. This is about me as a person. I do not come off like that. I am a conservative girl when it comes to my wardrobe. It is the same way I would appear strange if I was to advertise a hijab or lingerie or a ‘just think of what’s not me’.
3. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Gal 6:9 (NIV)
Nothing will ever take the place of consistency in building a brand. Nothing!
You can’t post today and come back next week. To meet who tho’? You need to treat everything about you as a business. Not in an overwhelming, lack of fun way. No. I mean this in a consistently dedicated and accountable way.
Be accountable to yourself! Stop looking for motivation outside. Warm yourself up. Brands are now going for consistent micro influencers with integrity!
4. “Never again will I let a number define me. It suffocated me,” Essena O’Neill
You should read this when you can.
Your true influence and reach are not in the number of likes that you have but in the kind of conversations that your post drives. While you are there concerned about how many likes your post received, a brand is assessing your post impressions and reach, your post’s engagement both in quantity and quality. Instagram is contemplating giving you the option of hiding them anyway.
They would rather ask for your analytics than look at your post at surface value. Anyone can garner ‘likes’. It takes a lot to actually influence. To influence is to cause people to take action because you recommended it.
As you gradually plan to increase your reach, keep your followers glued to you. Become that kind of person that they can’t help but be addicted to. You don’t have to be like the other popular people, you will find your own clan.
On the issue of increasing your reach, hashtags work a whole lot. You will have to learn how to use hashtags for your own good. Experiment and combine as much as you want. Your cap is 30. Use them all if you want.
The other day, an influencer said she was asked why she used hashtags a lot. According to the asker, she came off as begging and trying too hard to be seen. She answered, “of course, I am trying too hard to be seen. I must be seen”
Until you become Michelle Obama, use hashtags.
5. “ People who project negativity typically have low self-esteem. They feel badly about themselves, and their negativity is simply a reflection of those feelings.” – Hendrie Weisinger
This is a no brainer, no brand wants to be associated with negative people. It’s okay to rant once in a while or to express discomfort because guess what, the person behind your account is you and you is a human being. So, yes, you will be human most of the time.
However, there is a balance to all of these. You will not post about how mad you are about the things people are obviously happy about and expect many people to like you. No, this has nothing to do with begging for approval, it has everything to do with tact and wisdom. It has a lot to do with understanding times and seasons.
If you know that you will in future, approach a certain kind of brand for collaboration, don’t come online to spew negativity about they or brands related to them. The same goes for commenting.
With how popular screenshotting has become, it is very easy to be caught being stupid on another person’s Instagram or Facebook comment section so be wise. Use that space of social media wisely.
In summary, be yourself. Work hard on becoming better but remember not to lose yourself in the process. If consistency is becoming overwhelming, find a way to enjoy the process.
And if in the end, no brand ever approaches you, you would have truly influenced, you would have enjoyed networking, you would have immensely gained from interacting with people who bring you joy and that, I think is goals.