Since you’ve decided to jump into the influencer world, we’ll take this opportunity to give you one important tip for success: jump in headfirst.
Talent helps. Personality helps. Authenticity helps. A unique niche helps.
Another essential part of your success? Finding the right platform for your brand.
Most influencers, even though they use multiple social media platforms, have one primary platform that’s their brand builder, their megaphone, their home.
Different influencer platforms offer different benefits for different types of influencers.
So, if you want to know how to become an influencer, you need to find yours.
Who is your ideal audience, and which platform do they prefer? Will you be visual? If so, will you utilize video or photography more? Will you offer long-form content?
To help, we’ve created a social media platform cheat sheet to help you find the right platform for your brand.
Instagram is currently the crème de la crème of influencer platforms, because it offers the unique combination of photography, text, video and livestreams. While all these options can sometimes be overwhelming, Instagram makes them all easy to learn. It’s up to you to decide which content you want to provide.
If you’re targeting a younger audience (Gen Z or millennials), then you need to think strongly about making Instagram your main platform. And if your content involves fashion, art or design, then definitely consider Instagram – especially if your young, visual audience mostly identifies as female.
- Extremely visual
- Engagement and creativity thrive via Stories, livestreams, Q&As and polls
- Exciting combination of content (photos, videos, etc.)
- Great for influencer collaborations via Perlu such as…
- Instagram takeovers
- Co-promotions (with giveaways)
- Co-owning pages (eventually)
- Hashtags and the Explore page increase visibility
Because Instagram doesn’t provide groups like Facebook or threads like Twitter, it can be difficult for your followers to engage with each other. Follower-to-follower engagement isn’t a priority for every influencer, however. But if it’s important to you, consider using a secondary influencer platform like Facebook to create a community.
Some influencers have also had difficulties with the new algorithm, which seems to hide posts from followers’ feeds – especially posts from mega-influencers. Since you’re new to the platform, this algorithm likely won’t affect you much.
“My content is usually very visionary (e.g. art, photo editing, and modeling),” Kiara says. “Instagram is a very visual platform so it works well for me. As for logistics, I appreciate the ability to keep track of engagement as a business account.”
“As a travel blogger, I love Insta because it allows me to showcase the place I’m visiting through pictures, as well as find other people in my sphere of influence.”
In fact, travel Instagram accounts are one of the most popular niches on the platform! Between international food and awe-inspiring landscapes, traveling is one of the most visual activities there is – making it perfect for a visual platform like Instagram.
Take Courtney Brandt, for example, American expat and food writer living in Dubai. She also concentrates on Instagram and utilizes Instastories for her content, which has amassed more than 20,000 followers!
Ready to have your mind blown? The average U.S. adult watches nearly six hours of video every single day. This means you’re probably watching a video as you read this article. (We take no offense.)
This video consumption is not only for entertainment purposes, either. It also feeds our shopping habits.
Proof: Nearly two-thirds of shoppers say video has given them ideas for purchases, and more than 90% of them say they’ve discovered these products and brands on YouTube.
Regarding audiences, YouTube offers an even split among all genders, even among Gen Z, Millennials and Gen X.
- User base is extremely active, which means your followers will be fully engaged
- Platform offers good engagement opportunities (via comments)
- YouTube is becoming more popular than TV, especially among younger audiences
- Influencer channels are very versatile (i.e. you can create multiple channels within one master channel)
- Collaborations are popular among influencers…
- Product reviews and demonstrations
- Co-promotions and giveaways
- Tradeshow/Travel videos
- Q&A videos
- Continual “back and forth” videos that tell a story
Creating video can be time-consuming and requires a little skill and equipment to get your content seen. However, learning this new skill can be extremely rewarding, not only for you but for your audience, too!
Interaction can also be difficult since videos aren’t live, so be sure to be active in your comments or by making Q&A videos to answer your audience’s questions like the Good Mythical Morning crew. Q&A videos are a great way to make your audience feel special and get to know you!
Twitter’s daily user numbers are impressive and growing. 326 million people use Twitter every month.
If your content is topical – especially if it’s centered around politics or comedy – Twitter is a must. You can publish immediately, test content immediately and quiz your followers immediately.
Twitter also has an amazing knack for forming communities within the platform. Take #astrotwitter for example. A huge community of astrology fans has gathered on the platform. They regularly interact with each other, producing content, retweeting each other and commiserating over the latest planet that went retrograde by the minute.
Audiences are evenly mixed here as far as gender, though popularity is higher among 20-somethings and Gen X.
- Brevity is king, so your content is easy to enjoy
- Timeliness and immediacy of communication (Twitter’s algorithm gets this right)
- Hashtags let you keep your content top-of-mind and easy to find
- Content goes viral more easily than on other platforms
- Interaction is fantastic among your followers – just be sure to interact with them, like @astrobebs who posts polls and asks followers to share information about their astrology signs.
- Collaboration can be easy (especially through Perlu)
- Guest tweeting and guest content
- Q&A and timed/planned interactions
- Networking introductions
- Co-write an article and link to it
Twitter is all about brevity and timeliness (especially when you’re writing about news or politics) so it’s important to stay on top of current events so you can get content out quickly!
While Instagram receives all the headlines, Facebook continues to have the most active users of any social media or influencer platform. Particularly among Baby Boomers and Gen Xers.
The power of Facebook is that its users are on there daily (62% of users are on at least once a day) and you have the ability to create exclusivity among your followers.
Some influencers have even created mastermind “sub-groups” among their followers – the very definition of exclusivity. Even influencers with podcasts or YouTube channels such as the My Favorite Murder podcast send their most devout followers to Facebook for exclusive groups. It’s a cool way to roll out the red carpet for VIP treatment.
At the very least, if your target audience skews “older” (at least compared to Gen Z) then you should utilize Facebook as a secondary form of engagement with your followers.
- Most active user base
- Potential for a very wide reach for your brand
- Private groups create exclusivity and 1-on-1 interaction
- Opportunities for unique collaboration among influencers
- Page takeovers
- Video collaborations and cross-promotion
- Product swaps/placement
A ton of content is produced on Facebook, so it can be difficult to stand out. But as long as you’re producing creative, unique content (think: collaborations) you’ll be able to attract your ideal audience.
Sometimes users can over-post and over-comment or promote themselves. Want to create a super friendly, non-spammy, supportive atmosphere in your group? Just set clear guidelines for members, like Boss Project.
Speaking of My Favorite Murder, podcasts are another great way to get content out there. In recent years, podcasts have made a resurgence. Only about 12% of the U.S. population listened monthly in 2013. Since then, that number has nearly doubled. Now, over 50% of all U.S. homes claim to be podcast listeners.
The most popular podcast genres are comedy, education and news. This includes everything from true crime to politics. Some podcasts even mix all three such as Abe Lincoln’s Top Hat.
If your demographic is relatively affluent and educated (and under 55) and your content doesn’t require visuals, podcasting may be the way to go.
- Podcasts are on the rise. More people are listening every year
- Can be monetized easily – brands love advertising on podcasts
- Offers a captive audience. A social post keeps them around for a minute – a podcast can keep them around for an hour or more
- No competing messaging. On social media, a user might get distracted by someone else’s post – that doesn’t happen on podcasts
- Could be picked up by a podcast network
- You can interact with listeners in a unique way. My Favorite Murder hosts mini-episodes where they read listeners’ stories
- Plenty of collaboration opportunities
- Host guests like Shankar Vedantam on The Hidden Brain.
- Collaborations with musicians for intro and outro music
- Q&As and interviews with other influencers
Like video, high-quality podcasts will require some equipment and editing software. They take more time to create than blog or social media posts. However, this is balanced by the fact that most podcasters only publish one or two podcasts a week.
Podcasters are also super supportive of each other – they truly believe in community over competition. For example, many podcasts give shoutouts to other podcasts in the same genre. My Favorite Murder often gives shoutouts to other podcasts like Last Podcast on the Left and Criminal because they know their audience will like those podcasts.
What does this mean for you? Well, as a new podcaster, growing an audience is easy if you reach out to similar podcasts and request a shoutout or advertisement.
There are even podcasters on Perlu! Alexa Meisler, journalist and owner of the website 52 Perfect Days started a podcast about four years ago called Break Into Travel Writing. It helps aspiring travel writers jumpstart their career.
“What surprised me most about having a podcast was how much more connected my audience seemed … in comparison to my travel website. On the podcast, I am able to share personal stories along with my interviews or lessons. I believe this creates an opportunity for my listeners to get to know me on a more intimate level. When I go to a blogger or travel conference, and I meet people for the first time, I’m often asked if I’m Alexa from the podcast. Not once has someone asked if I’m Alexa from 52 Perfect Days. I think that my travel website is known, but it isn’t known as my site — whereas my podcast is seen as an extension of me.”
So if you’re looking to start a podcast, why not head to Perlu and check out other influencers in your niche to see if they’re down to give you a shout out to jumpstart your podcast career?
While social media has changed the way influencers, well, influence, this does not mean blogging has become obsolete. In fact, many influencers still put blogging at the center of their content strategy.
Take Michéle and Sanne, for example, owners of The Adventures of MiSa a travel and adventure blog. They utilize multiple social media platforms, but each platform takes their followers back to their blog. There, they take their content to the next level with blog posts about budget travel, van life and LGBT+ travel.
- Unlike social media, you have total control over content, format and monetization
- There are plenty of blogging platforms to choose from such as WordPress and Squarespace that make it easy to set up a blog
- Not everyone has social media, but over half of the entire world’s population has internet access – in America alone, over 90% of people use the internet
- A blog gives you the ability to provide more content; more content equals more value
- Blogs are easily shared on platforms like Facebook and Twitter which increases the potential to “go viral”
- Collaborations like guest posts and series are easy
- A blog has the potential for father reach with good search engine optimization (SEO) practices
Blogs can require a bit of writing, since Google tends to favor sites with more copy. But don’t worry if you’re not too confident in your grammar skills. There are free sites that can help you polish your writing skills. You could also check out some courses for a little extra help.
If you want your blog to show up in Google, you’ll also have to learn about search engine optimization (SEO). Luckily, there are plenty of ways to learn the basics so you can make sure your blog gets the most visibility possible.
If you’re not interested in writing but are still interested in having a blog, check out Tumblr. Tumblr acts a bit more like Instagram and is therefore a go-to platform for bloggers who focus on multimedia content.
Tumblr has amassed a bit of a cult following since it was founded in 2007. The platform encourages interaction between bloggers through threads, comments, reblogging, and messaging. So if you’re not a fan of writing but want the freedom a blog provides, Tumblr may be your best match.
Like podcasts, blog posts can take a little more time to create, but this, too, is balanced by the fact that many bloggers only publish one or two posts per week.
People follow social media influencers for a reason: they get something they think is valuable out of that influencer, whether it’s education, entertainment or inspiration. When you create a blog, you create even more value for your followers – value they love to share with everyone they know, further amplifying your influence.
There’s No Wrong Decision!
Every influencer platform provides you the opportunity to grow your brand exponentially. However, depending upon your target audience, your content creation plans and your brand personality, you’ll need to choose the ideal “home” platform.
Sometimes it takes some time and experimenting to find out what works best for you. And while choosing a primary platform is important, as you learn how to become an influencer, you may find that utilizing multiple platforms in different ways really leads to some awesome growth (and all sorts of collaborations).
“We chose our platforms as a result of personal experience,” Michéle and Sanne say. “We already did a lot with our personal Instagram and wanted to try if it would work for a travel account too. That is how we started. As soon as everything was live, we thought of making a Facebook page too … We don’t use the accounts in the same way though.
“Sanne was studying graphic design and learned how to build websites. That’s why she decided to build our blog. We have to put more effort in it, but having it feels already so much more professional. Then we thought about Youtube. Sanne always wanted to vlog, but editing was a thing she disliked. That’s why Michèle learned how to do it. We have uploaded around six videos now, but it’s taking a lot of time to edit and build a proper audience. Then Pinterest came along. We implemented our Instagram posts & the whole blog onto the platform!”
Your home platform should, of course, link to other platforms (and vice versa) to cross-pollinate your content and attract as many eyeballs as possible.
“So whichever platform you choose, make sure to give it 100% attention. Share and engage on a regular basis. Be willing to show the good, bad and ugly. Let your followers get to know you. If you do this, you can grow an audience … It’s the way to truly be influential!”
Once you start creating content and receiving feedback, you’ll start to realize what works and what doesn’t. And if you really want to learn how to become an influencer, you’ll want to reach out to other influencers for tips, how-tos and guidance.
The good news: right now at Perlu, you can find hundreds of influencers collaborating – many of which are experts in your industry. Go reach out to them. Start a collab. Ask for help. And get your brand rolling. Good luck!