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What is an influencer? You’ve heard the word and probably noticed that there seem to be a lot of them, with many becoming very well known. But you could also be an influencer and not even know it.

Say you’ve started posting videos on YouTube because you enjoy doing home repairs and showing other people how to do them too. Viewers have started subscribing to your YouTube channel and even sharing your videos because the home repair tips you’re giving them are helpful and educational. Or maybe your gorgeous Instagram travel posts have attracted a few thousand followers who are fellow travel enthusiasts. Congratulations, you’re an influencer!

Different Types of Influencers

Not all influencers are alike. The different types of influencers include celebrity and power influencers, macro and micro influencers, industry experts, analysts, journalists, and bloggers.

Influencers’ audiences vary depending on their niches. Followers can be any age or gender, of any kind of background and live anywhere in the world. The thing they have in common is an interest in the influencer’s subject.

The young foodie wearing a floppy hat and taking photos of her avocado toast to post on Instagram may have a vastly different following than the boomer economic analyst who blogs on her website about the Federal Reserve and banks. However, both are influencers, and there might even be some crossover with their followers.

Micro influencers reach a very defined segment of followers. They have fewer followers than macro influencers, sometimes as few as 5,000, but they have a very high level of engagement with them. Brands sometimes work with a group of micro influencers to reach followers with very specific interests.

A macro influencer usually has more than 100,000 followers, reaching a more general audience, while a power influencer typically has more than 300,000 followers. Some of the top celebrity influencers — think soccer star David Beckham, singer Beyonce Knowles and actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson — have grown followings that range from 50 million to 118 million.

Industry analysts and experts are influencers who usually have well-established reputations in specific fields. Journalists have influence because they are trusted to report the news. Bloggers who create content that is valuable to followers usually focus on specific topics that they know well and gain credibility over time.

Which Influencers Do Brands Want to Work With?

Depending on what a brand is selling and the audience they want to reach, their choice of influencers can vary. If they want to reach high-net-worth individuals to sell expensive financial products, then choose an influencer like the economic analyst rather than the food blogger. But if a brand is launching flavored vodkas, a lifestyle influencer like the food blogger is a great fit.

Top 10 Tips to Grow Your Following as an Influencer

Influencers use posts on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, as well as podcasts, videos on YouTube, and blogs on websites to grow their followings. If you’re wondering how to organically grow your influencer following, then consider these tried and tested methods.

1. Find and define your niche as an influencer.

Your niche should be something you’re passionate about (and good at). For instance, if you have a green thumb, love flowers, and people are always impressed by your garden, or if you’re a landscaper who loves to teach others how to do what you do, then posting how-to gardening or landscaping videos on YouTube are great ways to attract a following.

2. Use the right hashtags and make the most of social media platform features.

People use hashtags to find content on social media that interests them, which could lead them to become followers. Research post volumes for hashtags, and analyze your results from using specific hashtags. Take the time to explore the social media platforms you use to find features that can boost your numbers. Use special platform features like Instagram Stories to grow your following. Instagram Stories are only up for 24 hours, make it easy to navigate from story to story, and don’t feature comments or likes.

3. Hustle.

It does take work to grow your following. And not all of that work involves sitting behind your computer. Make sure to get out there and meet people at relevant events to network and grow your following, find out about experiences and products you can cover to keep your content fresh and interesting, and learn from other influencers.

4. Make the most of your Instagram bio.

When people see your Instagram bio for the first time, they usually decide within seconds if they want to follow you. Your Instagram bio can be a valuable nugget of information that engages potential followers by telling them exactly what your focus is as succinctly as possible. Include the info that is most important to making the right first impression.

5. Post high-quality photos.

Nothing demonstrates that you don’t care about followers and aren’t making much of an effort like photos that are of poor quality. If you just slap anything up because you’re on a schedule, don’t expect your following to grow. Post visually appealing photos that look natural, are engaging and depict the kinds of experiences your followers are interested in.

6. Be authentic.

Grow an influencer following by letting your personality shine through in your posts. Communicate in your own voice, and express your creativity naturally when you post about your experiences and adventures. Posts that seem overly staged or inauthentic can cause followers to lose trust in you and leave. If you’re working with a brand and it looks like you’re giving their product a hard sell, your followers can easily get turned off and leave in droves.

7. Engage with your followers.

Respond thoughtfully to your followers’ comments and questions to make them feel engaged and part of the story — and to show you care about and appreciate them. It’s also a great way to learn about the types of content they’re looking for and to make changes that will attract even more followers.

8. Establish a schedule and post consistently.

As a busy influencer, you’ll find that time can really run away from you. Because there’s so much to do, it’s important to set up a regular schedule of times to post and to stick to it to grow your influencer following. Showing up on a consistent basis goes a long way toward building trust with an audience.

9. Grow your influencer following honestly and organically.

Don’t be tempted to buy followers. A big bump in fake followers isn’t worth it and is noticeable for all the wrong reasons. Brands, followers and other influencers are becoming increasingly savvy about detecting fake followers. Follower fraud is one way to seriously damage your reputation as an influencer and make brands and real followers flee from your platforms.

10. Be patient.

As with just about anything that’s worth having, it doesn’t come to you overnight. Time is crucial to growing your following as an influencer. It takes time to build an engaging body of valuable content and create a trustworthy image with your followers, so commit to the long haul, and don’t give up when you don’t see immediate results.