How to become an influencer

Influencers are the modern opinion leaders, the trendsetters of the digital age. Whilst it used to be the stars on television whose hairstyles, fashion, and consumer goods were copied on a passive scale, many now follow people from the middle classes of society through social media channels like YouTube and Instagram. The term “influencer” not only describes a social role, but also a profession. By cleverly marketing themselves and offering their own digital presence as a marketing platform, influencers can generate a sustainable income. The real question is how to become an influencer yourself.

First of all, one thing needs to be clarified: becoming an influencer takes a lot of skill and some luck. After all, the social media public – the “swarm” – are the ones who hold your success and failure in their hands. How many followers, likes, and reposts you get depends on dynamics that are difficult to predict. Popularity on the internet is not programmable. However, as is often the case, if you are on the right stage at the right time with the right content, the net can reward you with the attention you need to become an influencer. Once you have established a loyal support base, you can benefit from influencer marketing to earn money.

“Influencer,” however, is not a title that one simply acquires and retains, but instead a status that you have to work hard to maintain through a constant online presence and consistent creative content. The infamous “15 minutes of fame” are over quickly, so you need to work hard to maintain attention and engagement from your followers. Unfair advantages like buying followers are just as unhelpful to influencers as bland posts and content that fails to be a hit with your target group. Our tips will teach you how to increase your chances of becoming an influencer on Instagram or YouTube. First, we need to clarify what we mean by the word “influencer.”

Influencer – definition, categorisation, and examples

As an influencer, you are a person who influences your audience. These fellow human beings, or “followers” will notice any content you chose to share: photos, tweets, blog posts, vlogs, any and all forms of digital content. Influencers often also directly influence their follower’s consumer behaivor. For example, if you take photographs wearing a certain piece of clothing and upload it onto social media, it is likely that some of your followers will see the image and be inspired to purchase the garment themselves.

Not only do you have a certain power, you also have a responsibility. When you show a product on your channel, you are usually making a recommendation. For example, if you are a computer expert, your friends may trust your advice so much that you can directly influence their choice of manufacturer. Wear a funny t-shirt to work, and your colleagues may ask you where you bought it – in telling them the answer, you are inadvertedly advertising. Just like that, you become a trendsetter and opinion leader, whether you want to or not. Social media multiplies this effect. However, there are different kinds of social media influencers. If you want to become an influencer yourself, you need to familiarise yourself with them first.

Key Influencer

Influencers usually enjoy a good reputation and are perceived as more authentic than classic advertising media. Key influencers generate their own content. Bloggers, YouTubers, and Twitch streamers, as well as popular Instagram personalities, all count as influencers. However, online magazines are also often considered part of the influencer movement, although the definition is somewhat watered down: influencer usually means an individual who reaches an essential part of a certain target group, e.g. gamers, teenagers etc. When we talk about influencers, we usually mean key influencers.

Wyoming

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YouTubers are very popular key influencers. Often certain advertising deals are agreed with them so that a product is actively advertised. As a YouTuber, for example, you integrate small segements in your videos in which you highlight your sponsors and present the product. You can then often actively support your followers of viewers with the help of an affiliate link by making a purchase through the link. This way, you are earning money ever time a transaction happens.

Of course, this also works on other platforms. For example, if you stream a video game on Twitch and your viewers are excited, you can encourage them to buy the products you are endorsing. Game manufacturers often sponsor the most popular streamers to achieve a good advertising effect. Well-know “Let’s Players” often get early access to games so that they can present them to a wider audience. Manufacturers of gaming accessories also like to jump on the influencer train and supply streamers with gaming chairs and headsets. More and more often, there are also obvious advertising deals. For example, streamers often integrate a link to an online shop into their streaming interface, that they then receive money for.

On Instagram, key influencers will most likely market products that can be effectively promoted through images of themselves (like clothing and cosmetics). Well-known Instagramers often wear clothing of a certain brand, with whom they’ve signed an advertising contract. Key influencers on Instagram, for example, are sent free products to show off. Often, there is also money to be made for Instagram posts that actively promote a product. Manufacturers make use of an important effect: if someone is considered to be an expert or trendsetter in the product’s field, then they have a particularly authentic effect and can convey the advertising message in a credible manner.

Bloggers and vloggers are usually used as key influencers when it comes to technical or medical products where regular folks might find it difficult to choose between individual manufacturers. For example, as a blogger you will be provided with sponsored products to write or film a review. As a key influencer, however, you will always strive to remain as authentic as possible and not just become an advertising mouthpiece, which would endanger your status. This means that you can also create a negative advertising effect if the tested product is disappointing. Key influencers manage this difficult balancing act between authenticity and product placement.

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Social Influencer

This type of influencer comes closest to the classic opinion leaders of everyday life and initially moves on a smaller scale. Social influencers post and comment in social media are regarded as reliable experts. Internet users are often social influencers without realising it: just a few posts that produce a measurable effect like approval, comments, sharing, and likes are enough.

If you write a Facebook post and rate or give your opinion about a film, you may already be acting as a social influencer. After all, your friends will see the post and may decide to go see the movie based on your opinion. If you rate a restaurant on Google after a visit there, you could contribute to the success or decline of the restaurant. The same applies if you tweet a counter argument in response to a test report if you disagree. All these types of microcommunication turn thousands of users into social influencers without commercial intentions every day.

If you want to become an influencer and earn money with advertising deals, your main intention is to become a key influencer. However, most key influencers start out as social influencers. Identify for yourself what kind of contributions you can make to social media with decent results. Do you post regularly to video games you like and do your posts often become thriving discussion threads? Then perhaps you should consider a games blog or YouTube channel as a next step. Do you like to model on Instagram wearing fashionable clothes and get a rush from likes and comments? Maybe your future as a fashion blogger is a no brainer. You can use the role of a social influencer as a springboard to becoming a key influencer by playing to your individual strengths.

Peer Influencer

Peer influencers fill the gap between key and social influencers. They are social opinion leaders in networks and usually have expert status in a particular field and wider reach than “ordinary” social influencers. In addition, peer influencers are sponsored by companies, for example with free products, and in many cases they are already considered business partners. Manufacturers also like to use employees as peer influencers.

As a peer influencer, you have already established yourself as an expert in a certain field and your content is already rewarded with engagement in the form of likes and shares in the three-digit range. You set yourself apart from the regular social influencer by consciously influencing your fellow human beings by promoting certain products out of conviction. As a peer influencer, you may not yet be making money, but you can make small deals with certain companies to get free products that you then promote in return.

If your digital career takes off, the path to becoming a key influencer becomes realistic. Once you have a wide enough reach that you can generally be regarded as the opinion leader in your field, you will receive better and better offers. You can imagine the path to becoming a key influencer as a growing circle that includes even smaller circles.

Concealed advertising

These days it is important for influencers to declare any advertising as such. If not, they may be liable to pay fines or actions for damages for concealed advertising thanks to a crackdown on paid media partnerships by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Consumers must always be informed if they are being presented with commercial content. However, the line between personal recommendation and advertising is fluid for social media influencers and it isn’t always clear what can be classified as an advertisement.

On television, for example, advertising is identified by clearly recognisable advertising bumpers and in magazines there is usually an “ad” note, as well as on YouTube. A post on Instagram showing an influencer with branded clothing is less clear. Influencers usually mark commercial posts on Instagram by linking to the advertised manufacturer, or using hashtags like #Ad, #Advertisement, or #Sponsored. However, there is currently no clear regulation for advertising in the social media sector. Especially hashtags are not yet recognised as a full alternative to the conventional “display” hint.

However, if influencers label advertising too clearly, they lose an element of their authenticity. It is precisely the strength of influencer marketing that the advertising media are regarded by their target group as credible people, and commercial product placement is less obvious than classic advertising, appearing to be more of a recommendation from a friend or expert. In other words, cleverly paced surreptitious advertising is part of the core concept of effective influencer marketing. If you want to become an influencer yourself, you should be aware of this and also stay up to date in legal matters to save yourself trouble. If you want to make the leap to becoming a commercial influencer, you have to keep your authenticity. This can often be a tedious balancing act.

How do I become an influencer? A step-by-step guide

Contrary to the perception that being a social media influencer is associated with doing very little actual work, you first need to realise that being an influencer is a full-time job. The mixture of content production and self-marketing requires a good understanding of current events, trends, and marketing, as well as high productivity. Equally important is a certain degree of emotional and social competence. As an influencer, you are presenting yourself on a large stage – with all the pitfalls that make up the business. Say goodbye to your preconceived idea of the “influencer dream job” and get as much information as possible about what to expect if you want to become an influencer on Instagram or YouTube, for example. With our step-by-step instructions, you can lay your personal foundations.

Step 1: prepare yourself emotionally

As an influencer, you are often under emotional pressure. Their performance is constantly subjected to critical analysis in real time (in the form of likes, follower numbers, comments, media reports etc.), as the target group reacts sensitively to even the smallest changes. The glory can fizzle out as fast as it comes. Since your platform is social media, you need to be able to deal with both positive and negative feedback. As a social media influencer, you have many fans who motivate you, but also many “haters” who let their opinions rip behind the anonymous mask of the internet. In extreme cases, this can come in the form of shitstorms.

As an influencer, you yourself are your most important product. Depending on the field you’re in, you will have to accept the fact that your professional and private life will be difficult to separate. For example, if you run an Instagram page where you present yourself as a modern, self-determined person, your followers may also try to track your activities on other platforms and networks to see if this image is consistent. You should also bear in mind that what you post will have an impact on who chooses to follow or unfollow you. If you upload a food picture of a steak or a burger, it is likely that you will lose out on your vegetarian follower base. Every action has consequences, for better or for worse. This level of psychosocial stress is not for everyone. It helps to keep in mind that you can’t please everyone, especially on the internet.

Many influencers also fail again and again in their attempt to commercialise their work. Since concealed advertising is illegal or heavily frowned upon in many countries, you need to mark your paid content as such. You can also be quickly accused of “selling out” if you promote too many products – losing more of your follower base again. As soon as you start marketing something other than yourself, your authenticity will suffer. As an influencer you must be able to deal with successes as well as disappointments, and classify them correctly. You have to analyze them seriously and draw valuable conclusions from them. As a social media influencer, you don’t just influence your fellow human beings deliberately, they are also subconsciously influencing each other. Make sure you are aware that these interactions are happening.

Tip

Don’t just ask yourself the question “How do I become an influencer?”, make sure you’re also asking “Why do I want to become one in the first place?” Familiarise yourself well with the role if you want to pursue it professionally.

Step 2: identify your strengths and interests

As an influencer, you need to have some kind of ability that peaks people’s interests. Are you a good photographer? Are you particularly good at writing or designing graphics? You may already have practice in media and understand how to produce a good video. Your clothing style is well regarded and people perceive you to be a fashion expert. Maybe your jokes are considered particularly original and you make others laugh with no effort. In any case, your chances increase considerably if you are considered to be a charismatic person. In addition, a certain degree of physical attractiveness is helpful, especially for visual media and/or a younger target group.

Fields of interest are also just as important. You can only come off as authentic if you are truly interested in a particular subject area and can prove it and become an influencer on the topic. Do you already follow what’s going on in the music business every day and like to share your opinion about the latest albums with others? Then the next step is clearly becoming a music blogger. Do you like to travel and take photos that are popular among your friends? An Instagram profile or travel blog could bring you attention beyond your circle of friends.

The strengths and interests of a digital influencer reflect those of the person in “real life.” Turning your “hobby into a profession” is what often makes the job of an influencer so attractive. Remember, however, that many hobbies can lose their appeal as soon as you turn it into a commercial activity, and something you have to commit to constantly. Consider whether your strengths and interests are motivating even when you have to use them for a “business.”

Step 3: get to know your competitors

Once you have decided on your field (fashion, technology, music, etc.) and have a rough idea of what you want to do, it is always worth taking a first look at the competition. Influencers do not have to fight for followers as if they were a limited resource – after all, one can follow numerous influencers. However, it can be difficult to persuade new followers to take interest in you if you aren’t providing something new. Why should people follow you when they already get the same content from other social media influencers, possibly of higher quality?

Look at the content of other influencers to get good ideas, but still try to discover a gap in the market yourself. Does your content include things missing from other influencers? Is there a lack of style in your content presentation? Is a certain group of people underrepresented? For example, if you are a woman in a male domain, this alone could give you a unique selling point. In short, look at your competition and see how you can stand out.

It is also helpful to encounter controversies from the competition when doing research. If you know what has already gone wrong with influencers in your field, you will be able to avoid these mistakes easily. This applies in particular to concealed advertising. Be sure that you’re aware to precedents for legal violations and also have a rigorous method of correctly labeling your advertised content.

Step 4: Choose your medium and platform

If you are an ambitious social media influencer, you should initially concentrate on one medium. Want to start a blog, become an influencer on Instagram, or maybe run a YouTube channel or podcast? Connecting different social media channels is easy, and is something many key influencers do. However, you should first choose one platform and medium in order to have a proper work focus. If you try to be ubiquitous on all popular platforms, the quality of your individual content may suffer. In addition, the different platforms usually work a little differently. You should therefore avoid the danger of overtaxing yourself.

Step 5: research your target group

As an influencer, you directly address a specific target group. Influencer marketing is so popular because the reach of their sponsored content can be assessed so well. After all, a fashion label assumes that a sponsored Instagram post will be seen by people interested in fashion who will be willing to buy it. However, getting to know your target group is not just important for specific content marketing. Getting insight into your audience will help you create content that matches trends and interests more accurately.

The easiest method is to be part of your own target group. This means that you allow yourself to follow influencers who are already firmly anchored in your target group. By following trends in your field that are being promoted by other influencers, you make your own content more relevant. However, you also need to make sure you aren’t just copying a trend, and instead are adding an interesting, new element to it. Only then will you stand out and seem like you’re enriching your target group.

A well-known example of this was the fidget spinner. The toy was so popular that many influencers from across the spectrum took up this trend and tried to have their own take on it. Soon fidget spinners were being seen in sport and fashion content, as well as influencers combining pets and fidget spinners to create cute, entertaining content. When these gadgets disappeared as quickly as they arrived, influencers also distanced themselves from them. Anyone still creating fidget spinner content is considered to be irrelevant and has had to accept losing some of their follower base. The hype around fidget spinners shows you how important it is to continually analyze the interests of your target group.

Step 6: activate your social and digital environment

Once you have finally started on your path towards becoming an influencer, you can expect to wait a while before you gain traction. Rarely do people hit the nail on the head with the first attempt. You should see the path to becoming an influencer as a longer process rather than a ready-made ladder from social to peer to key influencer. The most important thing is that you are regularly producing and sharing content. The content is your springboard.

You probably already have an online presence of some kind, even if this is initially limited to a small circle of acquaintances. You can test this already-existing social field with targeted lurid content. Share photos, videos, articles with friends, acquaintances, and colleagues, and recommend your content specifically to those you think might be interested. Ideally, some of these people might have considerable reach. You can only increase your sphere of influence if your content is redistributed and goes “viral.

You can also work on creating success for your content “in real life.” Advertise actively for your blog, channel, or profile, for example in your circle of friends or office. Of course, you should avoid being pushy about it. It is better to ask people for their specific opinions and try to involve them directly. The better a person knows you, the more valuable the feedback you get. Since authenticity is so important for the influencer profession, a person close to you can best assess how well your digital presence really suits you.

Then you need to critically evaluate your content. Which posts, photos, or videos were well received? What content have your friends and acquaintances most actively liked and commented on? The “field test” give you valuable insight into your strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to correct the course or focus on the type of content that has been most successful.

Step 7: interact with your followers

Once you have built up a solid follower base, you need to maintain it and then expand it. From now on, it’s not just important to deliver constant content, but also keep up regular dialogue with followers. Take an active part in discussion threads that revolve around your content. Visit and subscribe to the same pages as some of your followers, not just to get an idea of who is following you, but also to expand your personal network.

As an influencer, you form the center of your community but are still expected to have some accessibility and feeling of closeness to your followers. In contrast to classic media like newspapers and television, influencers are dynamic and interactive content producers. Their content does not appear according to a rigid schedule, and they are inseparable from their online persona. Because of this, many followers will try and have a quasi-social friendship with the influencer who becomes a mixture of celebrity, journalist, and friend. However, when interacting with your followers, stick to the principles: more approachable than a celebrity, more authentic than an advertising figure, more professional than a friend.

Step 8: network with other influencers

As an influencer, you have competition from other influencers as you seek to gain your followers attention. However, this does not mean that a friendly or business relationship with another influencer is a bad idea. After all, attention on the internet is not a limited resource, since one individual can follow multiple influencers. Influencers can support each other or present content together, which can then bring their follower bases together, creating good publicity.

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Another advantage is that influencers can learn from each other about job aspects like content production techniques. It is also easier to keep on top of current trends if your personal information network is expanded through friendly or business relationships with other influencers. From a commercial point of view, friendly influencers can recommend themselves to companies or provide them with important addresses and telephone numbers. Aside from that, good advice from a fellow expert is always a valuable asset.

Step 9: market yourself actively and skillfully

Are you established as a social media influencer and have a follower base with at least four figures? Do you have specialised in a field in which products are involved in some form? In this case, perhaps the biggest step is to commercialise your content, or at least part of it. Therefore, under no circumstances should you become a pure advertising platform. Instead, you should continue to publish mostly non-commercial content.

 

Successful influencers who are suitable as advertising media are usually contacted by relevant companies. Most of the first deals are kept relatively small. Free products will be sent to you so that they appear in your content in some form. Depending on your reach, you may then be offered real advertising contracts which can ultimately help you earn money. There is no guideline value like a minimum number of followers.

The range above which you are eligible as a key influencer for an advertising contract depends on your field, your competition, your main platform, and the individual assessment of your person, amongst other things. Online marketers often invest in influencers arbitrarily, based on subjective speculation: if someone in the industry thinks you are the “next big thing,” you may be surprisingly successful in the short term. It can also happen that they are ignored despite their considerable range.

Self-marketing is an ability that requires not just experience and expertise, but also talent. Influencers who want to market themselves often fail at this hurdle for the following reasons:

  • Emerging influencers are rarely taken seriously. Not every industry has fully arrived in the digital age and many marketers continue to underestimate the reach and target group focused opportunities of influencer marketing. The reputation of opinion leaders is not the best either, since there are too many self-proclaimed influencers who never get beyond “social” and “peer” status. Influencers who turn too hastily or too unprofessionally to companies are often ignored and dismissed as laymen. In extreme cases, these failures become public, which can seriously damage the reputation of the influencer.
     
  • There’s too much competition. Companies that have already signed several advertising contracts with influencers need strong arguments for signing another one. Why should a company market its products through an influencer that is proven to have less reach than the one already under contract? A common mistake is to overestimate the most well-known companies in the industry as an up-and-coming influencer. At the beginning, it makes sense to turn to smaller companies and labels and “work up” the companies, so to speak. Many up-and-coming influencers start out too high and fall just as low.
     
  • The follower base is punishing the move to commercialisation. This point has cooled off a bit because content producers on the internet are now forgiving a certain degree of commercialisation (after all “they have to live on something”). However, the marketing of one’s own person is still at risk. How high this is depends on the respective field and the platform. YouTubers, for example, are more likely to forgive the inclusion of advertising than bloggers who quickly add pop-ups or video ads to their content. As an influencer, you must always be careful to maintain your authenticity and integrity. For example, if you rate a sponsored product and enthusiastically praise it, your followers may no longer believe you and consider you a sell-out. Advertising deals must be arranged in such a way that your content is subject to as few conditions as possible and your creative freedom is preserved.

Step 10: publish regularly

As an influencer, you can only achieve a lasting effect if you appear in your follower’s newsfeeds regularly. You can only keep or grow your following base by being constantly present. Not only is being an influencer a full-time job, you also don’t really get to take a vacation. Publish content with short intervals without spamming any unnecessary postings. Work hard to create a good content flow. Otherwise, you might be dropped by your followers.

Content flow also depends on the field, platform, and target group. Instagram profiles should be fed with new content at least once a day, whilst social media influencers upload a new video to YouTube on average two to three times per week. Of course, it also depends on how much attention your content requires – how “snackable” it is. If you only post images on Instagram that can be viewed in fractions of a second, you are hardly overloading your followers with several posts per day. If you shoot videos that last several minutes, then don’t overexcite your followers with too many of them, especially not advertising ones. Otherwise, your followers will have difficulty keeping up with your content flow and will drop rather than catch up.

For the right content flow, a target group analysis is also important in addition to sensitivity. Depending on your average follower, you should plan for a wide or narrow attention span. If you have one podcast that is aimed primarily at working people, then your programs should not exceed half an hour if possible – after all, you can assume that your followers will hear your podcast on the way to work or during their lunch break, for example. For this purpose, it is also useful if your podcast appears daily during the week.

Content flow is also often dependent on certain “real life” events and circumstances. Sports blogs are naturally particularly active after sports events, especially on weekends. Influencers on Instagram who specialise in hiking, for example, are more likely to be noticed in summer than in winter. Creativity is particularly important when circumstances make the content flow difficult. 

Some fields also require the most compact content possible. Sports bloggers have to formulate their content fast and get to the point quickly, which is why tweets are a particularly popular medium. Because many athletes are in some way influencers themselves on Instagram, this field on the platform is all the more difficult. A professional athlete can also generate interesting content much more easily because they are directly at the source. Competing with the content flow of professionals is likely to be difficult, precisely because the flow of these people has increased significantly in recent years. It has become common for football players to post in Instagram at least after every game. In a fast-moving field like sport, high frequency content is appropriate.

Step 11: expand your sphere of influence

Growth is one of the fundamental principles of our economy and should also play a role for you as an influencer. Of course, you can be satisfied with your follower base from a certain point on. However, many influencers always strive to expand their sphere of influence. This can be achieved with the following strategies:

  • Expand to other platforms. Logically, follower bases overlap on different platforms like Instagram and YouTube, but there are also many exclusive users that you can only reach if you are active on both platforms. For example, if you have a successful Instagram profile on fashion, it makes sense to start fashion vlogging on YouTube. On the other hand, you may already be a well-known YouTuber who reviews films. Then it makes sense to share your videos on the many different social networks and perhaps offer insight into your work apart from the videos via visual platforms like Instagram.
     
  • Run official profiles on social media networks like Facebook and Twitter. Even if you only share content you are already distributing on your main platform, posts and tweets are important building blocks for gaining influence. You can also offer more channels for discussions, likes, and shares. Depending on your field, it makes sense to use Reddit and link your content to a relevant subreddit if necessary.
     
  • Open up new fields. If you are already an established figure in your field (fashion, sports, culture, etc.), you do not always have to remain true to it. Many fields of interest can be cleverly combined to open up new target groups. As a fashion blogger, for example, it is customary to combine content with sports, fitness, and health. If you like to present yourself on Instagram as an attractive, fashion-conscious influencer, your followers may be interested in how you keep fit and how you dress for your work-out. This not only gives you variety, but may also make you interesting as an advertising medium for sports equipment suppliers. Another example are YouTubers who want to refresh their channel with new kind of content or create a new channel for it. In the gaming sector, it is also common to run livestreams through Twitch or YouTube.
     
  • Cooperate with other influencers. As mentioned above, it often makes sense to befriend competing influencers as project partners in order to reach their follower base and win some of them over. Because followers rarely switch from one influencer to another, each part of the project can benefit. It is also clever to show up with influencers from other related fields of interest. Then it is more likely that you’ll reach more followers who would otherwise stay away from your field.

Step 12: explore new revenue streams through crowdfunding

Many social media influencers earn their money through affiliate links, integrated advertising, or sponsored contributions. Above all, YouTubers often make use of crowdfunding methods, especially with subscription-based platforms like Patreon. If you regularly publish content, it is sometimes advisable to launch a crowdfunding campaign to generate additional revenue.

In return, you promise your donors a regular output or, depending on the amount of the contribution, certain rewards of an idealistic or material nature (merchandise or sponsored products that you no longer need). However, do not underestimate the effort involved in crowdfunding campaigns. The cash flow creates increased expectations and you need to interact with your community more intensively.

Tip

Read our article on how this form of financing works: Crowdfunding. Then familiarise yourself with the most common crowdfunding platforms.

Step 13: stay true to yourself

You can only achieve long-term success if you stay authentic as a person. As your influence grows, however, you are easily tempted to open up new fields and industries by adjusting or expanding your content and other output. But never lose sight of what is primarily decisive for your success.

As a make-up influencer on Instagram, it is a good idea to venture into the entertainment sector, perhaps with a YouTube channel. However, jumping too far can have unpleasant consequences. If you are an Instagram influencer and start streaming video games on Twitch because of the “gamer girls” trend, this can unsettle your follower case and in the worst case, create counter-hype. Never force content that you have no interest in.

The most popular US influencers on Instagram

The most successful American influencers have a lot in common. First, they are all attractive young people (although this is a subjective assessment). Secondly, they all present themselves as private individuals who share their success and lifestyle with their fans in great detail. They also often combine multiple platforms and may have active YouTube channels, Instagram profiles and Twitter/Facebook accounts that they use to interact with fans and other influencers.

Taking a look at the kind of content produced by American influencers, they are clearly living an upmarket lifestyle. Content flow is usually impressively constant because these people work full-time as influencers. Their careers also often read similarly. University or conventional jobs were often discontinued in order to devote themselves entirely to their digital career.

However, one must remember that followers only see content that is shared by influencers. Instagram stories are usually staged down to the smallest detail and are presumably the end result of many experiments. YouTube videos are endlessly edited and cut, and are often clickbait-ey – for example, if preview videos or images are loaded with emojis to conceal the content. Successful self-marketing is also the reward for consistent self-presentation.

Nevertheless, most of these influencers still have an aura of authenticity, and command the attention of legions of followers. A common criticism of these “digital stars” is that, as role models (for young followers especially), their lives are presented too perfectly. However, this phenomenon is not really new; it has just shifted considerably from film and television to digital networks. What film stars from Hollywood were yesterday, YouTubers and Instagrammers are today: people whose success can be measured in numbers. Here are some examples of influencers that were turned into stars by their fans.

zoella

Zoe Elizabeth Sugg, more commonly known as “Zoella” is the star of the UK influencer scene. The jack-of-all-influencer-trades broke into the industry with her YouTube channel, featuring outfit videos, makeup tutorials, vlogs and any other kind of lifestyle content imaginable. It is also the most subscribed to influencer channel in the UK with a whopping 12 million subscribers. The 28 year old from Wiltshire began her journey to influencer fame with a blog called “Zoella” in 2008, whilst she was interning as an interior designers. Later that year, she made the transition from blogging to YouTube and the rest is history. Like all good influencers, she also has an Instagram account, currently boasting 10.7 million followers.

Zoe’s charming, bubbly personality and fashion-savvy style have made her a hit with her largely female audience, and she has capitalised on this popularity by releasing two novels, both ghostwritten to largely critical reviews. She has also features on a charity music single, and launched her own range of beauty and lifestyle products. Despite having faced some scandals and criticism during her time in the spotlight, she has also scooped up a number of awards including Teen Choice and Cosmopolitan Blog awards. She is currently in a relationship with fellow influencer and YouTuber Alfie Deyes.

#splashbotanics

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Zoe Sugg (@zoella) am

Alfie Deyes

Whilst to many people Alfie Deyes is best known as Zoe “Zoella” Sugg’s boyfriend from her videos, he himself has created an influencer career that should not be underestimated. Like Zoe, Deyes began his YouTube channel in 2009 under the name PointlessBlog. His YouTube channel features humorous videos and vlogs, and he frequently collaborates with his girlfriend, as well as numerous other high profile names in the online influencer world like Tyler Oakley, Grace Helbig and Tanya Burr. The 24 year old Londoner’s channel has 4.1 million subscribers. He also posts frequently on his Instagram account, and his Twitter page. Alfie’s Instagram includes stylized editorial style photos, candid shots and showcases his love for travel. His account currently stands at 4.5 million followers.

Like Zoe, Deyes has also signed book deals as a result of his channel’s success. In 2014 “The Pointless Book” was published, a non-fiction title that is part journal, part activity book. Despite heavy criticism, a sequel was published in 2015 with the title “My Pointless Book 2” and even a third installation was released in 2017. He has also dabbled in music and television throughout his career.

While it is obvious that “Zoella’s” online presence dwarves his, it is undeniable that the couple benefit from their public relationship by constantly appearing in each other’s content. It is this kind of voyeurism that also contributes to both their online popularity.

Estee Lalonde

Estee Lalonde is a happy-go-lucky Canadian born and raised blogger, currently residing in London. Starting off with a YouTube channel originally known as Essiebutton which she started in 2011, Lalonde has won over a following of 1.2 million followers with her informative, fun videos about fashion and beauty, as well as her funny, poignant vlogs and travel videos. Lalonde has perfected the girl-next-door persona, and having moved from Canada to the UK at 19 for love, there is a genuine relatability to her infectious smile that has helped her become one of the UK’s leading beauty gurus.

Whilst YouTube is Estee’s main social media channel, she is also active in Instagram with a carefully curated feed of candid shots, sponsored content and of course, a couple of selfies. The 28 year old from Ontario has also released a successful memoir called “Bloom”in 2016, and launched her first podcast, “The Heart of it” in 2017. She often collaborates with other YouTuber’s like Amelia Liana and has had a number of high profile endorsements from luxury brands like Lancome.

Feeling carefree and summery

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Estée Lalonde (@esteelalonde) am

Caspar Lee

Caspar Lee found influencer fame with his wildly popular YouTube channel ‘Caspar’. Regularly uploading content that includes comedy videos, daily vlogs, travel diaries and more, Lee has found a way to successfully market his hilarious sense of humour and his boyish good looks, raking in 7.5 million subscribers and over 850 million views. The 24 year old Londonder grew up in South Africa where he began his channel in 2011, before relocating to the UK in 2014.

Lee has also found a way to capitalize on his friendship with other British influencers, becoming close friends and often collaborating with Alfie Deyes and Joe Sugg. He has also collaborated with a number of high profile celebrities like Zac Efron and Channing Tatum for videos on his channel. Caspar’s social media portfolio also includes an Instagram page with 3.6 million followers, and a Twitter page with 6.1 million followers. This expertise in attracting and retaining an audience has led to him signing a contract with Influencer Ltd. (a UK marketing company) and appearing in numerous documentaries and music videos.

Training for our match against Belgium.

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Caspar Lee (@caspar_lee) am

dantdb

Daniel Middleton, commonly known as DM, hit the viral jackpot with his YouTube channel TheDiamondMinecart, which featured videos of his exploits playing the online game Minecraft. Middleton quickly gained popularity amongst the gaming community for his charismatic presenting style, and his gaming skills. Now known as DanTDM, Dan founded his channel in 2012 and now has over 19 million subscribers. After revealing his true identity in 2013, Dan also has a side channel MoreTDM which features daily life vlogs and personal videos.

Riding the wave of his YouTube fame, Dan has also released a graphic novel called Trayaurus and the Enchanted Crystal to decent reviews and excellent sales, topping the New York Times bestseller list. He is also regularly featured at Insomnio gaming festivals, and has been interviewed on numerous UK television programs. Dan has translated his YouTube success across to other platforms, with a Twitter page that has 1.5 million followers and an Instagram account with 2.9 million followers. Not your usual breed of obviously attractive, luxury lifestyle influencers, Dan has helped bring gaming into mainstream social media culture and has made being a nerd something to be proud of.

goals.

Ein Beitrag geteilt von DanTDM (@dantdm) am

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ksi

Olajide William “JJ” Olatunji, professionally known as KSI is a social media influencer from London. Racking up 18 million subscribers on his YouTube channel KSI, JJ creates comedy videos, travel videos aswell as music and boxing promotional videos. However, KSI began his YouTube career like Middleton, with gaming videos, particularly featuring FIFA and Grand Theft Auto. He and four other gamers created a group titled the “Ultimate Sidemen”, creating YouTube videos of their gameplay.

As previously mentioned JJ has also launched a somewhat successful music career, and many of his music videos can be found on his main YouTube channel, raking up tens of millions of views each. His 2016 EP Keep Up reached number 1 on the UK R&B Albums Chart. He has also attempted to pursue an amateur boxing career, mostly fighting against other YouTube personalities. In 2015, KSI released a memoir about his life online titled “KSI: I Am A Bellend”, and appeared in the film Laid in America in the same year.

Although KSI is a controversial figure in the online community, known for starting fights with other YouTubers and telling lies, he still maintains his incredible influencer status. His Instagram account currently stands at 5.7 million followers despite only having 94 posts and his Twitter account has 4.48 followers. He currently has a net worth of $4.5 million.

Alexa Chung

Although Alexa Chung has been in the public eye long before the term “influencer” became mainstream, her status as all-round British it-girl has naturally morphed her into one of the UK’s leading influencers. The 34 year old fashion writer and designer has also modelled and released two books during her career. Also famous for her high-profile relationship with Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner, Chung’s Instagram page channels her flawless fashion sense, candid photos, editorial shoots and carefully curated artwork - and is required-following for any stylish, cosmopolitan woman in the UK. With 3 million followers on Instagram and a further 1.5 on Twitter, her impressive reach has helped land her magazine columns, TV hosting gigs and release books It and It: Über Style. She regularly appears on best-dressed lists and is an inspiration for designers and lay people alike.

While Alexa found her fame before the dawn of Insta-celebrities, there is no doubt that her social media presence has contributed significantly to both her fame and her wallet – her net worth currently stands at $12 million.

Sup?

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Alexa (@alexachung) am

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