January 31, 2024
Min Read

What Is a Social Media Influencer? Everything You Need To Know

What is a social media influencer? Learn about the different types of influencers, what they do, and how you can become one.

Makeup influencer filming a video with a phone camera set up

If you’ve ever bought something because you saw it on social media —  from an island vacation to a pair of jeans — you’ve experienced the power of influencer marketing. You’ve been “influenced.” 

If you’re ready to try your hand at being an influencer, here’s everything you need to know about what a social media influencer is and how to become one. 

What Is an Influencer?

What makes someone an influencer is their ability to convince others of the value of a product or service.

When people trust the opinion of someone within a specific industry or niche, they’re more likely to buy something that person recommends. 

Influencer marketing is how brands use an individual’s influence to drive sales. They’ll hire that person — or “influencer” — to promote their products. This is because the influencer’s following is more likely to trust the brand if someone they like recommends it.

Traditional examples of influencers include athletes endorsed by certain sports brands or famous chefs generating interest in cookware brands.

What Do Influencers Do?

Influencers promote products and services, blending their endorsements and recommendations into their content or identity. 

An influencer can inspire their followers to buy something simply because they trust the influencer’s opinion. Other times, influencers give a genuine recommendation for a product they use a lot, even without any sponsorship from the brand. 

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What Is a Social Media Influencer?

Social media is more than a place to keep up with friends or the latest news. It’s also a multibillion-dollar global marketplace. Social media influencers drive that marketplace, persuading consumers to buy certain products on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

These content creators use their popularity to influence users. Think of your favorite celebrity wearing a cool pair of shoes in a photograph. That might be all it takes for you to want a pair of your own.

Influencers often collaborate with businesses to promote a product by creating content that shows them using or recommending it to their followers. These ads might even come with promo codes or other incentives to encourage you to buy. Businesses partner with social media personalities who’ve built strong bonds with their audiences and established their expertise through consistent, high-quality posts. 

When a social media influencer endorses a product, their followers trust their recommendation based on their expertise or what they see. A chef on YouTube giving a cooking tutorial could persuade their audience to purchase a particular olive oil brand simply by using it in a video and mentioning its quality — not for a brand deal. 

Screenshots of different influencers’ TikTok videos

Types of Social Media Influencers

Your number of followers determines your reach. Social media influencers with larger followings generally have more reach and can spread a brand’s message to a wider audience, driving a lot of traction for a product or service. 

This doesn’t mean you should discount influencers with fewer followers. While they may not have the same size reach, smaller creators can tap into the intimacy of a smaller audience and promote products to a more targeted, niche following — something many brands seek out. Plus, they might have a higher engagement rate, meaning their smaller following is more likely to interact with their content. Brands might prefer to work with an influencer with a small audience that will see the content over a creator with a large, less reliable following.

To determine potential reach, businesses rank social media influencers into one of five tiers based on their follower counts: 

  • Nano-influencers: 1,000-10,000 followers 
  • Micro-influencers: 10,001-100,000 followers
  • Mid-tier influencers: 100,001-500,000 followers
  • Macro-influencers: 500,001-1 million followers 
  • Mega-influencers: Over 1 million followers

How To Be a Social Media Influencer

Social influencers are generally skilled marketers and content creators. They post content they’re passionate about and offer recommendations for products.

They also strive to maintain that authentic bond with followers to keep their audience close. Connected followers drive engagement through commenting, liking, and sharing content. This engagement then attracts attention from brands, meaning they might be more likely to buy products you recommend.

 If you have a dedicated social media following (or plan to grow one), you can earn money or score perks by partnering with brands and promoting their products to your audience. Here’s how to get your start as a social media influencer. 

Determine Your Niche

If you’re just starting out, you’ll want to determine your niche — one that aligns with your passions or area of expertise. This may be an obvious choice if you have a job, talent, or activity you’re particularly invested in.

Whatever you choose, know that your niche determines what target audience and brands you might attract. For example, if you’re passionate about coaching soccer and consistently create high-value content about the game, sporting companies may see you as someone who could connect well with their target audience. 

Create Quality Content

Building solid, lasting connections with your audience hinges on creating quality content. If you’ve ever scrolled through a creator’s photos or watched their videos for hours, you know that interesting content has the potential to draw in followers. 

Use tools like Captions to create and edit high-quality videos — whether in the comfort of your home studio or on your phone at your friend’s apartment. You can film directly in the app or import content you’ve already recorded. 

Captions’ teleprompter tool is especially useful for influencers making promotional videos. You can write a script and add it to the app, then read it off the screen as you record to make sure you don’t forget to share any important details about the product. 

Promote Your Account or Channel

Growing a social media following takes time, and gaining followers depends on how well you promote your content. 

One of the best ways to expand your reach is cross-promotion. Encourage followers on one social media account to check out and follow you on your other platforms. For example, you can encourage your YouTube subscribers to follow your other social media pages to see more frequent posts. You can also share teaser clips of your YouTube content in an Instagram Reel to send them to your YouTube channel and potentially increase your subscriber count.  

Another great way to gain a more extensive following is by teaming up with other creators. Ask social media friends in your niche if you could co-create a TikTok video with them or invite them to be in your next YouTube video. These collaborations encourage other creators’ followers to check out your account. 

You can even pay to promote your content, sending it to news feeds and Discover or For You pages to reach more people. Many social media platforms have paid options for influencers or businesses to advertise their posts to wider audiences. 

Person filming a video with a phone camera set up

Social Media Influencers FAQs

Becoming a social media influencer may have its challenges, but putting in the hard work and honing your craft can pay off in the long term. To help you on your journey, here are some answers to a few frequently asked questions on how to become a social media influencer.  

How Many Followers Do You Need To Be an Influencer?

You can become a nano-influencer with 1,000 followers and a micro-influencer with 10,000. Household-name brands like Nike have partnered with micro-influencers, so you can still get impressive deals with relatively low numbers of followers if they have high engagement with your content. 

Do Influencers Get Paid?

Many influencers get paid. If making money is one of the reasons you hope to become an influencer, it’s worth considering that content creators generally earn based on their tier. Nano-influencers earn less than micro-influencers, and so on. Mega-influencers can make thousands (or tens of them) for a single post. 

How Are Influencers Paid?

Businesses use various payment structures to compensate influencers, and not all are cash-based. Some influencers post content on behalf of a brand in exchange for products or services, while others earn a fixed amount of money per post. 

Who Can Be a Social Media Influencer?

Anyone can become a social media influencer. While some influencers are famous for other reasons (like acting or making music) and already have large follower counts to leverage, others start from zero. The most important thing is to consistently create high-quality content that resonates with your target audience. 

Do More as an Influencer With Captions

If you’re interested in becoming an influencer and ready to start building a following, it’s important to have reliable editing tools. Doing every stage of content creation by yourself — from the planning to the post-production — is a full-time job. 

Luckily, with Captions, you can use AI to support you at every stage. Captions’ AI can generate scripts for your videos, display them during recording with the teleprompter tool, and correct your eye contact so viewers don’t know you were reading along. Download the app to learn how Captions can help you start your career as an influencer today.    

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January 31, 2024
Min Read
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