What Is a Social Influencer?

Social influencer taking photo of food for social media

Do you find it difficult to go longer than a few hours without checking your social media feeds? Are you constantly thinking of ways to turn recent events into snappy tweets and posts? You may have what it takes to become a social influencer.

What is a social influencer? Quite simply, a social influencer, or social media influencer, is someone who has a reputation of authority or expertise in a particular area and who uses that authority to engage with large numbers of social media followers. A social influencer can contract with various companies to promote their goods and services to these followers.

Essentially, a social influencer is a 21st-century advertising guru. If you want to learn how to become a social influencer, continue exploring this career guide blog, and then research your social media degree options.

What Is a Social Influencer: An Overview

Social media may still be fairly young, but the concept of social influencers is not. In fact, it predates computers. One early example of the use of social influence to sell products dates back to 1765.

In that year, British entrepreneur Josiah Wedgwood was looking for a way to convince customers to purchase his sets of fine china rather than those of his competitors. He created a special china set for Queen Charlotte, who was King George III’s wife. Queen Charlotte clearly adored the set because she designated Wedgwood as the “Potter to Her Majesty,” and the line of china became known as “Queensware.”1

Naturally, Wedgwood sought to capitalize on the royal stamp of approval by publishing advertisements aimed at aristocrats and those with high society aspirations. He also named some of his china pieces after various members of the royal family. To this day, the Wedgwood name is still considered a luxury brand, and customers are, therefore, generally willing to pay more for these china sets.1

This example demonstrates the power of social influencers. When someone as important as the Queen of England endorses a product, the endorsed brand is instantly elevated in prestige. This increased prestige leads to greater sales and more loyal customers.

The methods of brand endorsement have changed significantly over the years, but the concept remains the same. Today, social influencers are generally those who fit the following characteristics:

  • Someone who holds a position of authority or credibility (in other words, someone who has an established personal brand)
  • Someone who actively posts engaging, entertaining, and/or informative content in a niche area
  • Someone who has attracted a fairly sizable following of fans on social media
  • Someone who can leverage their authority to influence their followers’ purchasing decisions

It’s important to stress that the power of a social influencer stems from their ability to cultivate relationships. A social influencer must build trust with their audience, and they must paint themselves as someone whom their audience would aspire to emulate.

As such, a social influencer cannot simply post advertisements all day long. Rather, to attract and retain a following, an effective social influencer must provide their audience with a variety of quality content. Some of that content can consist of promotional material for specific brands, but an audience can quickly become disillusioned and disengaged if 100% of an influencer’s content is promotional.

How to Become a Social Influencer

The process of how to become a social influencer can sometimes be lengthy. It can take time to build up a core following of devoted fans and then to cultivate relationships with companies that pay you to endorse their products. If you’ve decided to earn a social media degree, you will begin working to build your personal brand while you are still in school.

Every social media influencer’s path is different. In general, however, you can follow these steps to become a social influencer:

  1. Choose a niche: All effective social influencers must have a niche area in which they build their authority, reputation, and expertise. For example, you may decide to focus on food and restaurant reviews. Skin care and beauty products, outdoor recreation, physical fitness, and DIY crafts are other possibilities. It’s important to be authentic in your posts; therefore, choose a niche that fits your passions and that you won’t eventually find boring.
  2. Determine your demographic: Once you’ve chosen your niche, you can choose the type of audience to which you intend to appeal. For example, if your niche is beauty products, you might target women ages 18 to 26.
  3. Select your channel: Social influencers generally choose one main social media channel, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube. You may be active on multiple platforms, but you should concentrate the majority of your posting efforts on your main channel. Select a main channel that appeals to your target demographic and makes sense for your niche.
  4. Develop an editorial calendar: An editorial calendar is essentially a schedule of the content that you plan to post online. It’s important to post to your platform on a predictable schedule. For example, your editorial calendar might include Instagram posts five times per week and a YouTube video once per week.
  5. Encourage traffic and cultivate followers: You can use the strategies of various social media platforms to encourage users to follow you and engage with your posts. For example, use relevant hashtags, make your content shareable, and encourage users to post their own comments.
  6. Encourage brands to reach out: Write a short bio that labels you as an influencer who actively welcomes brand collaborations. Include your contact information on your social media profiles to make it easy for brands to reach out.

Earning Your Social Media Degree to Become a Social Influencer

Not all social influencers have a social media degree. Therefore, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Social Media can definitely give you an edge in this highly competitive marketplace. Remember that successful social influencers do not simply post advertisements; rather, they must create high-quality content that entertains and engages their audience.

A social media degree will help you acquire the core competencies necessary to build and maintain a large following of fans. You’ll learn to cultivate relationships with both followers and clients, and you’ll learn to construct well-designed content that appeals to a wide audience. You can generally expect to study topics including the following:

  • The cultivation and curation of social media communities
  • The creation of content for specific industries, such as sports and entertainment
  • The development of comprehensive social media strategies and campaigns for specific audiences
  • The use of industry standard tools for developing and evaluating social media campaigns, including the use of social media data analytics
  • Reputation management for brands, including strategic channel monitoring and content creation

As you work through your studies, you can begin practicing what you’ve learned in the real world. Create a social media account, choose a niche and begin posting high-quality content designed to attract followers.

Whether you want to become a social influencer, a social media manager or a similar professional, you can begin your journey toward a rewarding career at Grand Canyon University. GCU’s cutting-edge Bachelor of Arts in Social Media degree program delves deeply into critical subject areas, including strategic planning, reputation management, advertising copywriting, and social media for specific industries, such as sports and entertainment. Graduates will emerge with strong competencies in creativity, communication, leadership and global awareness.

To learn more about this degree and our other modern programs, click on the Request Info button at the top of your screen.

1Retrieved from NPR, Planet Money, How to Get a Celebrity Endorsement From the Queen of England in September 2021

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.