With careers built on the back of mutual adoration, you’d think being an Instagram “influencer” is a walk in the park: but maintaining an authentic persona is more work than you think.
Influencers – as they are widely referred to within marketing agencies – are people who have amassed large online followings largely by posing on beaches in bikinis.
Of course not every influencer has built their Instagram platform on the back of a six-pack and a picturesque beach background, but anecdotal evidence shows that revealing a little skin tends to boost likes more often than not.
Detch Singh is the CEO of Hypetap, an organisation that connects branded agencies to social media influencers, and oversees an “influencer campaign” from start to finish.
Singh refutes the idea that the world of influencing is all about looking good, arguing that authenticity – whatever form it comes in – is far more marketable.
“There’s so much more to the influencing market than beaches and bikinis. We lean on a whole range of influencer categories from food and drinks to lifestyle,” Singh told 9Finance.
“The relatability factor that these influencers have with their audience is key, and audiences are becoming savvier and smarter – simply, if I’s not authentic we’d rather not do it.”
Singh says it isn’t just the size of one’s audience (for context, American musician Selena Gomez has 133 million followers) that deems how profitable an influencer is.
“There’s a whole range of methods we use to decide who is an influencer, and we take a really deep dive into the data and the real engagement of their audience to see if they’re authentic,” said Singh.
“This includes everything from followers to authentic followers to likes and comments, to the content of those comments.
“It’s no longer simply about audience size – sheer number of followers on Instagram doesn’t necessarily make an influencer a good fit.”
Take Instagram success story Kayla Itsines.
Itsines is a personal trainer from Adelaide who rose to prominence after posting the transformation pictures of her clients on the social media platform.
Today she boasts an Instagram fanbase of 8.8 million followers, and is worth an estimated $46 million.
Itsines’ authenticity – which fans can pick up on through daily personal updates and videos – makes her one of the most marketable influencers of all time.
Put simply, if she were to endorse a fitness product like a skipping rope or a foam roller, she would have a larger consumer base at her command than any TV commercial in the country.
Singh says the most successful influencers no longer rely on their aesthetic talents as the market becomes saturated with ridiculously good-looking people.
When asked whether being an “influencer” is now a legitimate career choice, Singh is certain: creating social media content requires the effort and dedication of a full-time job.
“I think so,” laughed Singh.
“There are some influencers who do straight post-for-pay but those who are successful and build real careers are actually really clever content creators who know their audience.”
While Singh refused to give 9Finance a definite level of followers needed to become an influencer, he did suggest that your audience would need to be large enough to fill a cricket ground.
“We like to say you can’t put a figure on these things and really audience engagement is key,” said Singh.
“But a rough estimate would be 10,000 plus followers with at least 3 or 4 percent engagement is a good start.”