I hesitate to pat myself on the back, but I’m recognized as an influencer in the digital marketing space.
But how? Why?
Part of my growth as an influencer is because I weave a lot of my personal story into my content.
My influence allows me to pick and choose projects and clients based on my personal tastes and interest in certain challenges.
Influencers have a lot of power.
For example, my content influences other influencers.
With great power comes great responsibility, so I’m careful how I wield mine.
Studies show consumers are 71% more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals.
According to 2017 Tap Influence research, 40% of people have purchased an item after seeing it used by an influencer on Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube.
This is why interest in influencer marketing has skyrocketed 90x since 2013.
Everyone wants to be promoted by a social media influencer these days!
Sounds fun, right?
Becoming an influencer wasn’t easy. It took a lot of focused work.
I like to use my influence in a positive way, so I’m going to tell you the secrets that got me to where I am today.
1. Pick a niche
If you ever called a technical help desk, you’re aware the first problem they’ll resolve is making sure the device you’re asking about has power and is turned on.
This is the same way we diagnose the reason you’re a nobody.
The reason you need a niche is to start out as a micro influencer in your particular niche.
Micro influencers create powerful word of mouth to small groups.
Research shows they generate double the sales of paid ads and with a 37% higher customer retention rate.
Micro influencers don’t have the followings of a Kardashian, but they’re much cheaper and can still reach a targeted niche.
It’s not just enough to pick a topic.
Digital marketing is a broad topic, and I didn’t get to the top by focusing solely on a broad keyword.
I started in the trenches of SEO before learning content marketing, conversion rate optimization, influencer marketing, social media marketing, and more.
One day you may have 262K Twitter followers.
But you have to start with one.
Start as the expert among your friends and peers.
Work toward being the expert in your city and state.
Then build your empire from there.
2. Create a content strategy
Once you have a niche, it’s time to build your content strategy.
Even the Content Marketing Institute concedes there is no template for this.
They do need to be followed consistently, though.
I have strict goals I set for myself to create a set amount of social posts on each network while maintaining blog quality and working on side projects.
They’ve not yet created a process the government can’t quantify though.
The Usability.gov website has a handy chart to get started.
Audience, voice, and tone are the main components. From there you can outline your workflow, including daily tasks and necessary tools.
Not terribly hard right?
Once you’re armed with this information, you can select your channels.
3. Select your channels
There’s no wrong answer for which social channels to be on and avoid.
Facebook is by far the most popular, with 61% market share in 2016. But that dropped from 65% in 2015, and other social channels still have validity.
While I enjoy my time on certain channels more than others, I don’t play favorites when engaging with my audiences.
I do my best to show up everywhere.
Besides Twitter, I’m on Facebook.
My page gets a ton of traffic and has a great conversion rate.
I’m also active on LinkedIn.
It’s a great place to share information and run professional background checks.
You can find me on Pinterest.
I love the visual format of this site. I think it has more marketing potential than Instagram, personally.
I recently started using and becoming more influential on Quora, too.
This question and answer site is quickly becoming a repository of great information.
I’m also working on my YouTube presence.
Video content is king.
Each channel has a different audience (and audience size) expecting different content.
These are just my social channels. I’m not including my blogging and guest blogging efforts.
You don’t have to stay this active on so many channels, but pick one or two to start building out your influence.
Think of each social channel as another platform for you to reach your customers (and the general public).
4. Network within the industry
In order to be influential, you need to make real connections.
Everyone wants to sit at home on their couch and connect with influencers on social media.
That’s simply not an option. Popular tech influencer iJustine, for example, has 1.2 million Twitter followers.
She’s very active with her followers, but can’t possibly engage individually with all 1.9 million in any meaningful way.
Where you can network with Justine Ezarik is at technology trade show CES.
Event marketing is a big trend in 2017, with 67% of B2B marketers considering it their most effective strategy.
Why not make it a priority for marketing yourself?
Get off the couch, get out the house, and get to major events related to your niche.
You can start your search at the Trade Show News Network for listings of trade shows around the world in every industry.
5. Participate in off-site forums
Becoming popular on one social network does have its advantages.
YouTuber PewDiePie, for example, earns $70k per month off the strength of 9,239,050 daily views.
Even PewDiePie has other revenue streams, however, earning $6.5 million from endorsement and app development deals alone.
Not everyone can be PewDiePie, though. That’s why he’s famous for it.
The rest of us have to venture outside social media and participate in forums, comment wells, and other online discussions.
Every discussion you can be a part of online enhances your reputation, influence, and connections.
6. Create a website or blog
Conversations don’t end on social media.
You’ll always have more to say than can fit in a tweet or Instagram post.
With a website or blog, you have a place to direct your social followers as you gain them.
Personally, I’m a huge fan of blogging.
One of the best content management systems for creating either a website or blog is WordPress.
Don’t be an influencer without a cause.
Be prepared to lead your followers into your well-designed conversion funnel.
Tweets with links have 86% higher engagements rates.
On LinkedIn, posts with links have 200% more engagement.
A link to your website or blog can actually increase your audience engagement on social media.
And it goes without saying the longer blog content needs to provide even more value than a social post to get clicks.
7. Provide value to the conversation
If you’re not providing value to the conversation, you’ll never reach the ears of anyone influential.
To become an influencer, you need to be the person people are talking to each other about.
Word of mouth is the most influential element driving purchase decisions today.
If you can impress people enough with your knowledge and conversational value, they’ll sell everybody else on you.
Then they’ll tell two friends, and so on…
8. Stay ahead of current events
There are two types of content, evergreen and topical.
Evergreen content stays forever relevant, such as an article about evaporation points of different liquids.
Topical content is hot right now, but will soon be forgotten. Basically, everything happening today.
When writing a blog post, I’d stay as evergreen as possible, but on social media, staying informed about current events is the key to being shared.
The Lafayette Company’s Ellen Carmichael’s biggest tweet of 2017, for example, combined the 2016 presidential election with the 2017 Super Bowl.
Using these timely images created a brand win for Carmichael by appealing to Super Bowl fans who remember the election.
Staying topical is how you go viral on social media.
Tools like Hashtagify let you keep track of social media trends.
A Google News alert helps you monitor the entire Internet for specific keywords and phrases.
Do what you have to do to stay current.
9. Understand all channels
Even if you don’t use a social media channel, it’s still important to understand who does.
I’m not a big user of SnapChat, for example, but I understand its 300 million (mostly younger) users can’t be ignored.
Here’s a handy chart showing the average age of each user on each social media channel.
Because of their differences, each social network requires a different strategy.
We’re coming up on the holiday season, so here’s a chart of holiday social strategies by platform.
You’ll see slight differences in each platform. That’s no accident.
While minor, these differences make a world of difference in determining whether you’re a hero or a zero in your industry.
This type of chart helps you prepare posts to schedule in advance.
10. Stay authentic and on-brand
Going back to the Super Bowl, it’s an interesting event. Why? Because brands have made the commercials as anticipated as the actual game.
A recent survey showed audiences are actually entertained by these ads.
It’s because brands like GoDaddy, Budweiser, and Ford consistently come through with epic TV spots that tell their brand story.
It’s important to be authentic and stick to your brand voice to become an influencer.
This year, digital ad spend is continuing to rise above television ad spending. It accounts for 36.8% of total ad spending.
This means an authentic voice on social media is more critical than an expensive Super Bowl commercial.
It’s free to do, and it’ll help you rise through the ranks from nobody to micro influencer to major influencer.
11. Respond to comments
If you’ve ever visited my blog or social media profiles, you know I actively respond to comments.
Here’s an example from a recent blog post I promoted on Facebook.
My followers love to ask me questions and comment on things, and I love to respond.
This is how I built a social community that participates and engages with my content.
When responding, be sure to stay consistent and friendly.
Don’t respond to trolls and other haters, unless you have a great zinger that will help your brand image.
12. Engage with the community
It’s not enough to simply respond.
To become an influencer, you need to start conversations.
When Procter and Gamble’s Mr. Clean Super Bowl ad was on its way, the company went on a social media blitz.
Within a minute of the commercial airing, Mr Clean Super Bowl had 11,700 mentions across social media.
This type of engagement is what social media was designed for.
And people remain engaged on these platforms.
Here’s a handy chart showing social engagement divided by platform and industry.
The more you engage with the community outside of your feed, the further you spread your influence.
Don’t just respond to comments on your Facebook page.
Post in groups, post on friend’s pages, and tag other influencers to engage the community.
Don’t be afraid to start a Facebook group of your own to draw in even more followers.
13. Consistently publish fresh content
I’ve been publishing at least one blog a day on this site for a long time now.
It’s not easy, but I do it. Why? I want to keep fresh content online for my readers.
I also have a content-driven online marketing strategy that’s fueled by my blog.
It’s the heart of my Facebook page content.
It’s the heart of my Twitter content as well, providing visual content and links to that platform.
I can also broadcast it out to my other social channels.
Focusing on my blog gives me a wealth of content to share across all my other channels.
It’s the center of my long-term digital marketing strategy.
My blog is foundation of how I got where I am today!
14. Listen to criticism
Being a creator of any kind or in the public eye for any reason involves handling a lot of criticism.
Even the President of the United States or the richest man in the world can’t avoid criticism.
No amount of money or power can!
Yet so few of us can handle it.
Here’s a Venn diagram of people who need and can handle constructive criticism.
If you become a person who can actually handle constructive criticism, critics will mold you into a more polished influencer.
Being an influencer isn’t about dictating what people do. It’s about creating a movement, and constructive criticism is essential to that.
Nobody wants to be surrounded by yes men.
Which reminds me…
15. Remain approachable
Phil DeFranco is one of the most influential YouTube users with his SXEPhil account.
The reason is somewhat because of production values and length of service.
More importantly, however, Phil remains approachable, despite his success.
Tackling topics as diverse as politics, social media, pop culture, and nuances of the YouTube platform itself, Phil maintains an every man approach.
Never let yourself get so caught up in social media fame that you become a prima donna, disconnected from reality in your ivory tower.
The more approachable you are, the more influential you’ll be.
16. Research new topics daily
I can’t stress enough how important it is to constantly generate new topic ideas.
It’s harder than it sounds over the long term. That’s why I use Google Alerts
I can set alerts to deliver to my email anytime my name is mentioned on any frequency I like.
There are a ton of other customization features.
In addition to setting up Google News alerts, pick a handful of publications to stay informed on.
The more knowledgeable and well-rounded you are, the easier it’ll be to gain influence.
17. Automate posts
Automation is the latest marketing trend, and it’s easy to see why.
You gain efficiency and speed, along with valuable data. Of course 77% of respondents to a recent survey appreciate the increased revenue too.
There are plenty of free tools to automate social media posts and let you schedule your content in advance using content calendars.
This is how professional publishing and social agencies work.
PowerPost can create a powerful content calendar across social, blogging CMS platforms, and more.
I’m also a fan of apps like Hootsuite and Buffer.
Jeff Bullas has a great blog detailing the differences between these two social automation suites.
Whatever you use, be sure to automate posts, so you have a steady stream of content.
Also, keep in mind blog posts can automatically be set up through the blog CMS to promote on social media channels.
18. Follow influencers and give shout outs
To be an influencer, you need to know other influencers.
Who you’re following is almost as important as who follows you. I may have 262k Twitter followers, but I also follow almost 100k people.
To expand your influence, you need to show people they’re influencing you as well.
On Twitter, there’s a hashtag group called #Teamfollowback that believes in reciprocating every follow.
I don’t go that far, but I do try to follow other influencers to engage their audiences along with mine.
Many influencers also love giving shout outs to followers, fans, and subscribers.
Shout outs make people feel like they’re personally contributing to the community. They incentivize participation.
And last, but certainly not least, is the data we’ll need to quantify all this work.
19. Quantify your efforts with data
Each social media site will show your impressions and audience engagement numbers.
It’s usually on the front page.
This only shows half the picture of your real influence, however.
With a website and Google Analytics, you can see the rest.
We can tell which social channels are getting clickthroughs to our site and how many people are converting from there.
Once you understand how many posts it takes to generate a conversion, you’ll be able to calculate an ROI for your social media efforts.
This isn’t the only benefit of being an influencer.
Like I said at the beginning, you can influence other influencers and drive the conversation.
Just be sure to use your power for good.
Influencer marketing is the latest trend in digital marketing because social media influencers are now able to quantify their audiences.
What started as a hobby for many has become a big business, and influencers like PewDiePie often outearn celebrities, politicians, and other prominent professions.
I’m an influencer today, but I wasn’t always.
Everyone starts at square one with no followers and nobody knowing who they are.
It’s the steps you take to build a following that ultimately determines how influential you are.
Who are the most influential people in your niche?