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So You Want to Be An Influencer

Wong Shu Lee  


  January 13, 2021

Back when we were kids, the popular occupations we wrote in the ambition survey are doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc. Fast forward to today, responses that you might get from a child or teenager most probably will be YouTuber, Instagrammer, or Live Streamer. In a study published in The Sun, three-quarters of Gen Z and Millennials surveyed chose to become a YouTuber as their most desired career. The same study also found the following statistics:


  • 1 in 3 aspire to be a YouTuber (34.2%)
  • 1 in 5 desire to be a blogger or vlogger (18.1%)
  • 1 in 6 would like to be a pop or movie star (16% and 15.7% respectively)
  • Between 1 in 7 to 9 for doctor/nurse (13.45%), TV host (12.45%), athlete or teacher (11.9%)
  • 1 in 15 aspire to be a lawyer (6.4%)


These results perhaps not so surprising given how attractive the world of social media influencing seems to be. It looks hassle-free, with freebies, travel and endless opportunities. 


So, what do social media influencers do? Social media influencers publish videos, images and motivational stories on social media channels such as Instagram and YouTube. Although everyone can publish contents on these channels, however, the presence of influencers (or better known as KOL—key opinion leader) is different to the average user. 


A KOL has a solid base of fans who follow his/her contents for entertainment or inspiration. Followers or fans can indicate their enjoyment and appreciation by liking, sharing and commenting on their favourite influencers’ contents, while influencers get paid through advertising. 


Is Social Media Influencer A Good Career Option? 


Although there are many well-known bloggers that published sponsored articles in the last two decades, the influencer marketing industry is booming in recent years. Nowadays, social media channels are the major entertainment source for many people, many brands have since shifted their advertisement from cable TV to social media. Thus, it’s safe to say that social media influencer is in-demand in the talent market. 


However, everything comes with a package of ‘advantage’ and ‘disadvantage’. While earning money by simply sharing your hobbies or life seems like a good deal, there are a number of things that you need to sacrifice to be a successful KOL. 


The Dark Side of Being an Influencer


What makes social media influencers different from traditional celebrities is that followers value the ability to get a close look at the personal lives of influencers. They enjoy following real and relatable people. That means influencers have to expose all details of their life via videos and pictures to stay connected with their followers. 


The number of people following and the number of likes and comments are currency in the social media world. In order to generate income through advertising deals, influencers need to constantly interact with their fans by asking for their views and recommendations as well as, crucially, thanking them and publishing content they ask to be posted. 


When you’re making a living by sharing contents on social media, you no longer have full autonomy in choosing what and when to post. Your topics and content will be determined by what the online audience and the sponsoring brand want to see, which often totally changing your initial objectives and creative direction. 


Besides, being a social media influencer means that you will need to deal with comments that sometimes unfriendly, or even hurtful. 


How to Be An Social Media Influencer


If you’re aspired to be a social media star, you can start by identifying your niche. Find something that you truly passionate about and start sharing your opinions and experiences with the format that you’re good at. Be consistent and be genuine. When you’re sharing your thoughts sincerely, you’ll build trust with your followers. When you advertise for a brand, your followers are more likely to check out the brand. This authenticity is the most precious value in influencer marketing. 


When your content attracts people to like and interact with you, brand owners and advertisers will slowly approach you for marketing deals. 


After all, there is no such thing as a free lunch. It’s impossible that you can be a successful influencer just by simply posting some random photos and videos. To kickstart, you can begin by generating content that is valuable and helpful to your audience. 


Alternatively, if you are not ready to be an influencer but still want to get involved in the influencer marketing ecosystem, you can explore career options like videographer, video editor, multimedia designer, digital marketing specialist, etc. 



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