What Exactly Is a Social Media Influencer?

by Brittany McSorleycape cod marketing firms

To work in social media marketing on Cape Cod, one must become familiar with an expansive vocabulary. As social media evolves, so do the rules, so to market effectively online, you must be familiar with concepts like “banned hashtags,” “organic engagement,” “clickthrough rate” … the list goes on.


One term we see thrown around a lot in the marketing world is “social media influencer.” In a general sense, it refers to anyone with an influence online. More specifically, it’s anyone who has enough of an influence online that advertisers want to partner with them, piggybacking on the influencer’s reputation in order to reach consumers. If you asked the typical young person, they’d probably define a social media influencer as someone who can make money just by posting on Instagram — sometimes a lot of money. Talk about a dream job, right?


According to Sprout Social, “Influencers have specialized knowledge, authority or insight into a specific subject.” This means that celebrities, bloggers, content creators, and industry leaders are often considered social media influencers. If you’re known for something specific, and you have a large social media following, you’re just what brands are looking for. A common influencer story goes like this: A young woman starts a YouTube channel dedicated to makeup tutorials. The videos take off, the woman’s following grows, and before you know it, she’s receiving boatloads of free beauty swag in exchange for reviewing/advertising certain products on her channel. Again, dream job.


I should mention here that many influencers don’t necessarily make money off of their amplified online voice. Journalists, for example, would not look great if they suddenly began touting moisturizer to their thousands of Twitter followers. But many people in the spotlight do take advantage of their captive audience. According to Digital Marketing Institute, these are some of the most successful social media influencers these days:


Huda Kattan: A makeup artist with a cool 46 million Instagram followers. Her net worth is an estimated $610 million. IT’S THE DREAM!


Cameron Dallas: An internet personality who’s popular across Instagram, Vine (RIP), and YouTube. He’s 25. Don’t freak out.


Kylie Jenner: Granted, Kylie has a reality show to thank for her initiation into fame, but she’s turned that head start into a near-billion-dollar industry. She reportedly makes $1 million per sponsored Instagram post. Don’t freak out.


With that depressing information out of the way, let’s turn to what small businesses can learn from the influencer world:


Showcase your expertise: Use your social media platforms to show your followers that you’re reliable and knowledgeable. Brand trustworthiness is the bedrock of a strong marketing strategy.


Nurture your following: Engage with your followers by responding to comments, addressing feedback (positive and negative), and encouraging conversation.


Seek out collaboration: Finally, begin charging obscene amounts of money for sharing sponsored content. Just kidding. But you should look for opportunities to collaborate with other businesses that you like and trust. It’s a very effective way to grow your audience.


Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to sit in a dark room and process this Kylie Jenner information.