Being an influencer is the hot new career that everyone wants to master - but with so many people out there trying to break through, how do you set yourself apart from the rest? If you want brands to choose to work with you, you need to be able to provide them with value as well.
And it’s not only about how many followers you have any more. In fact, that’s usually just a starting point most brands like to work with. Statistics like your engagement rates and follower demographics, as well as your content quality and substance, are much more important.
Statistics to focus on
Back in the day, everyone was only focusing on how many followers they had to their name, but vanity metrics like this are no longer as important as they once were. The rise of micro-influencers has meant that even smaller accounts are able to get in on the game as well. So, instead of worrying about hitting those follower goals, focus on these instead:
- Engagement rate - probably one of the biggest statistics in terms of influencer marketing right now is your engagement rate. With all the recent algorithm changes on Instagram, engagement is now vital to getting your content seen not just by your own followers, but by others as well. Likes and comments are what you need to be focusing on if you want to attract brands to partner with. They want to feel confident that people will be seeing and interacting with their sponsored content if you post about it. So, if you have a high follower count, but quite low engagement - fix that as soon as possible.
- Follower demographics - more than just how many people follow you, brands care about who those followers are. There has been a lot of talk recently about fake accounts that are created simply to boost people’s followings - so brands are constantly on the lookout for this. If a brand is hoping to target millennial women and most of your audience is made up of guys, then you’re not going to be the right influencer for them.
- Story views - now that Instagram has capitalised fully on its stories feature, brands are starting to focus more on this as well. If you’re looking to really impress a brand, then combining the above statistics with some killer story views and engagement will definitely put you a cut above the rest. Just make sure you’re doing all you can to utilise the story feature on Instagram.
Of course, statistics are all well and good, but it’s the content that your followers are going to see - and if it’s not up to scratch, then brands won’t want to put their name to it.
- Quality - first and foremost, make your content look good! No blurry shots, no dodgy editing, and no bad lighting! While brands are looking for authenticity, they still want high-quality authenticity. Spend some time going through your existing feed, and don’t be afraid to say goodbye to any images that are no longer up to scratch. This is a good practice to keep up as well. The longer you’re on the platform, the better your skills will be - both in photography and editing. Never be afraid to delete a picture if it doesn’t live up to your current expectations.
- Niche - You want to make sure that all the content on your feed matches. Constantly switching up your niche not only confuses your followers but will make brands worry about your loyalty as well. There are a number of accounts out there that will happily partner up with anyone who offers them money and the chance to do so. This is not a winning strategy though. Stick to one, maybe two, niches and no more. This will help you build up a focused audience, and give you the ability to give more values back to brands when you do partner with them.
- Captions - your brand is your brand, and you want it to stay that way. But bear in mind that your brand voice won’t always match up with the voice of other brands. If you are approached by a very conservative, family-friendly brand; but your profile features a large number of profanities, it is your duty to make sure they know that. While you may be excited to team up with a brand for a partnership - especially if there’s money involved, waiting for the right brand is always worth it.
One of the biggest obstacles you’ll need to contend with is the concerns of the brands you want to work with. With so many people trying to break into the world of influencer marketing, not all of these people have such good intentions.
Brands pump a lot of money into working with influencers, so they need to feel secure in their investment, knowing that they are going to be getting some good value back. The biggest mistake that many wannabe influencers make is only thinking about themselves, and what they can gain. Influencer marketing is a partnership, and both parties should benefit.
The recent trend of using fake followers and bot accounts to boost an accounts statistics has recently come right into the spotlight. This has made brands much more suspicious than ever before.
And, it’s not just people who actively pay for these fake followers who are being affected. Many genuine influencers are finding these fake accounts among their follower list too. It’s worth spending some time going through your own follower list and weeding out any obviously fake accounts on there. They don’t provide any value to your account, or to any campaigns you may work on with brands.
An especially large concern for many brands is what level of professionalism they’ll be dealing with when they partner with a new influencer. This is especially true when they work with smaller micro-influencers.
When you’re talking to possible brand partners, do your best to stay professional, and show them that you really know your stuff. Know your statistics, your rates, and have ideas at the ready before launching into conversations, and you’ll be able to win them over much easier.
Becoming an account that brands want to work with takes time to do properly. You need to make sure you’re keeping your followers engaged, portraying a professional image of someone who knows what they’re talking about, and producing high quality is key.