You’re an avid user with a large social media following. You’ve got a YouTube presence with plenty of subscribers. You prefer certain brands and perhaps those brands, or others like them, send you products, hoping you’ll endorse them through your social channels or on video. Congrats! You’re an influencer. It’s a fun and rewarding side hobby that some have even turned into a career.
The biggest influencers on places like Twitter and Instagram have hundreds of thousands of followers. They’re tastemakers, they shape the direction of fashion, pop culture and music trends. In short, influencers have a lot of powerful, but as Spider-Man said, with great power comes great responsibility.
Being an influencer can be a lot of fun and comes with a lot of perks, but there are pitfalls too, some of which can torpedo your influencer standing before it even gets started. Though you’re also supporting other brands as an influencer, you yourself are a brand, and cultivating that brand is equally important. Here are five mistakes to avoid as a social media influencer.
Being a bigot on social media or your video channel is the quickest way to lose all credibility among the influencer world, get dropped from endorsement deals, and prevent you from receiving any more product to review. Don’t do it. Even if you personally hold those beliefs, keep them to yourself and out of public view at all costs. Better yet, don’t hold those views at all. Even if you don’t say bigoted words, your actions can be interpreted that way, so check yourself. This is especially important when traveling in another country as it’s very easy to be insensitive to another culture. Research is key here!
If you’re a massive influencer for an up-and-coming fashion brand, to the point where they depend on you and others like you to succeed, don’t trash-talk them on social media. Give them a professional critique on your channel, but slagging them off on your accounts is unprofessional and related brands will take notice of this behavior. Also, when being an influencer, don’t disparage competing products, as it’s a safe bet you’ll be reviewing that competing brand down the road. You can’t possibly be objective if you’ve trashed them as a competitor in the past. It’s possible to be a positive influence and not a negative one. Also, consider that mega-popular influencers can kill a small brand dead with one wayward tweet.
As an addendum to the above tip, if your influencer account gets into a Twitter fight with a person or brand, shut it down, apologize and consider deleting the tweets. You’re not here to argue with people, but to showcase the things that you like and that make you happy. Social media arguments get you unwanted attention and hurt your brand.
If a brand has provided you free review product, if you’re using a referral code to drive sales to a brand and income to yourself, if a brand is sponsoring you directly by paying you, please disclose all such relationships as part of your role as an influencer. It’s important to benefit as an influencer, especially if you want to make it a career, but disclosing any sort of relationship is important for objectivity. That said, it is still possible to be a fair, objective influencer even if receiving something in return, as long as compensation is provided without an expectation of unfiltered positivity. In other words, if a brand offers something, they shouldn’t expect anything in return except fairness.
Although the way that you as an influencer build your brand is through personal interaction, socializing on social media, and letting your personality shine through, it might be best not to get too personal on your influencer accounts. If you go out on weekends and are liable to drunk tweet or drunk Instagram, you can wreck your reputation among brands. If you go through a visible, public breakup, you can shed followers by the dozens and hamper your influencer efforts. If you have an active social life, if your life has drama, or you’re just naturally outspoken, consider keeping your business on one account and your personal life on a different one.
Also, consider using a pseudonym or brand name as an influencer, so that inquisitive folk can’t link your professional life and personal life together and get you in trouble. Influencer brand names are fun and easier to remember than real names anyway.
You’re a professionally-minded, fair and objective social media influencer today, but what were you like when you first got on social media? Did you like tweeting off-color jokes? Posting inappropriate pictures? Retweeting drama? This kind of thing can and will be used against you as your popularity grows. People will try and get you fired, so manage your past by scrubbing it all before that happens. You don’t want your persona during your immature days to be used as a bludgeon against your current, grown-up self. Your influencer identity should start right now. There are tools out there that will erase social media histories past a certain point; consider only letting your last few months of social posts exist. Try Twitter Archive Eraser for one solution.
Managing your brand allows you to manage other brands as a social media influencer more effectively, and will get you more likes, follows and retweets as your influence grows. Avoid the above pitfalls and you’ll have less stress and more fun along the way. It’s about getting out of your own way and letting your tastes and influence shine through, and not distracting garbage. Above all, enjoy Yourself!
By Steve Horton