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What do Influencers REALLY do?

Posted on 2019-04-26 02:00:00

Ever wondered how your favourite Instagram influencer makes money? We’ve got the answers.

“You need to really have a strong passion towards creating content as compared to just wanting to be famous.” -Emily Goh, Product Lead, Crunch by Nuffnang

Traditionally, influencers are known to be people who have the power to influence others. In today’s world however, an influencer, or more specifically a social media influencer, is someone who has developed a high level of credibility in an industry, have a high number of followers on their social media accounts, and are able to persuade or influence their followers to either buy, do or want something.

To give us an insight on influencers and what they really do, GRADUAN® spoke to Emily Goh, Product Lead of Crunch by Nuffnang, a community content platform under Nuffnang which is Malaysia’s leading content and influencer company that works closely with a number of high-profile Malaysian and international influencers including Audrey Ooi, Jane Chuck and Vivy Yusof. Nuffnang has also worked with household brands such as Unilever, Nestle, Samsung and Shopee to name a few.

Straight to the question that’s on everyone’s mind: How do influencers make a living? Emily establishes that not all influencers are doing this on a full-time basis; some have day jobs. She goes on to say, “Those who do this full time focus on creating original content, be it curating photos, videos or even long-form content; they spend a lot of time working to build their branding. This will help them grow their following and create more awareness of their brand to increase the opportunities.”

She adds, “Most influencers have a goal to start their own business. Some may build products like a clothing or makeup line, fitness or tech merchandise. Usually, the products they develop are according to their content, catering to their niche audience.” This goes to show that influencers aren’t just pretty faces who get paid for doing makeup reviews all day.

There are some influencers who are more popular than others, so we asked Emily what it takes for an influencer to be more marketable. The short answer is to “stand out from the crowd”.

“One of the common factors as to how an influencer stands out from the others is through their content. A generic-looking selfie with product placement no longer works as more and more people are able to duplicate that. An influencer needs to be a real content creator, looking to improve their craft in creating visuals or content that is unique and memorable while being relatable to their niche audience,” Emily explains.

The creativity of influencers in marketing brands has garnered international attention as seen in the launch of the Samsung Note 7 back in 2016 where Cyrene Q documented herself attending the launch, streaming it to her audience while giving them sneak peeks of the product. Cyrene’s marketing of the product has now become the subject of numerous marketing case studies.

Emily also advises influencers to not stray away from their usual branding, saying that influencers who stick to their branding “will help attract the brands that resonate with their tone and style, as well as the values they stand for.”

We asked Emily how brands choose the influencer to feature in their campaigns and she narrows down the selection process to three main criteria: “First, is the objective of their campaign. If they are looking to create brand awareness and buzz, they prefer using a higher number of influencers with a variety of followings (to fit their budget) to reach out to their respective audience. But if they are looking to influence purchase or create brand loyalists, they would prefer to work with a smaller number of influencers, and work with them for a longer period, so that the brand messaging and product frequency will influence their followers to purchase.

“Secondly, is if the influencer’s personal branding is in line with their own. Brands will work with influencers who share the same values with the brand and products. For example, a women’s sportswear brand will look for influencers who share their workout experience online (even before being engaged by the brand).

“The next is the number of reach. If the client is looking to reach a very mass audience, they will work with influencers with a very large following, such as local celebrities or Alpha influencers (usually with a following of more than 200,000 on a single platform).”

Now that we know how brands choose their influencers, how do we, the regular people on the Internet, become influencers? Emily believes authenticity, consistency and goal setting are the key principles in one’s quest to be an influencer. However, she warns that there’s no ‘one size fits all’ formula when it comes to becoming an influencer. She further explains the principle of authenticity saying, “People like to follow influencers they can relate to. Brands like to work with influencers who voice their values as they have a greater impact and connection with their followers.”

Emily adds, “Influencer marketing is ultimately building a very strong unique personal brand and curating content that is memorable. Just like everything else, the content pushed out must be consistent, and you need to really have a strong passion towards creating content as compared to just wanting to be famous.”

Emily then explains what it means to have a specific goal. Earlier, we mentioned that a lot of influencers don’t just review products on social media; they have bigger goals in mind whether it’s to create a business or be known as an expert in a certain field. It’s important to note that in order to be a successful influencer, there needs to be a long-term goal in mind. “Just growing your following and maintaining your feed to look aesthetic may not be sufficient if you plan to stand out in this industry,” Emily states.

There you have it folks, there’s so much more to becoming a successful influencer than just posting pretty pictures and having a few thousand followers!

Got a question or have something to share? Drop us an email at [email protected] and let us know!

Photo by Callie Morgan on Unsplash

By Ahmed Wafi

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