These days, it seems like everyone with a smartphone and a Wi-Fi connection is trying to make it big as an online influencer. They say the more the merrier, but how many followers do you actually need to be considered a real influencer? Is it 1,000, 10,000, or a million followers?
Well, let’s just say that the answer isn’t quite so simple. So buckle up and get ready for me to drop some truths about what it takes to become an influencer in today’s competitive digital landscape.
What is an influencer? Social media influencers defined
In the world of social media, being an influencer has become a coveted status symbol. They are the true powerhouses in today’s digital marketing realm. But what all does it take to become a social media influencer?
Picture this: a charismatic, trend-setting maven with the ability to captivate audiences and inspire them with her unique style, knowledge, and experiences. That right there is an Influencer if I ever saw one!
These incredible humans have an unmatched flair for creating engaging content that resonates with their loyal followers. With their jaw dropping food science facts, yoga routines, instant pot magic, smoothie recipes, and cooking expertise, influencers have become the go-to gurus for all things fabulous.
Put another way, true Influencers possess the Midas touch when it comes to social media marketing, effortlessly transforming their platforms into
marketing gold virtual communities that thrive on their every word.
Whether it’s rocking the latest fashion trends, providing insightful advice, or reviewing products with unapologetic honesty, influencers are the ultimate tastemakers, enchanting us with their authentic voices and leaving a lasting impact on our lives.
What does it take to be an influencer as a real job?
Being a digital influencer is no easy feat! It takes determination, creativity, and an unwavering commitment to one’s personal brand (read about the article I wrote about the 12 best influencer habits to create to be successful). These remarkable women are savvy strategists, meticulously curating their online presence to build a loyal and engaged audience.
Armed with a magnetic personality, they are natural-born storytellers, effortlessly weaving narratives that connect with their followers on a deeply personal level. Their unique perspectives and genuine interactions foster a sense of trust and authenticity, making their followers feel like cherished friends rather than distant admirers.
From sharing their wellness journeys to advocating for social causes close to their hearts, I think the best kind of influencers are trailblazers, using their platforms to create positive change and empower their communities. In this digital age, where connections transcend borders, influencers are the muses who inspire us to embrace our true selves, live boldly, and chase our wildest dreams.
If you were born with the ability to change someone’s perspective or emotions, never waste that gift. It is one of the most powerful gifts God can give – the ability to influence. – Shannon L. Adler
What qualifies you as an influencer?
Is there a specific, pre-determined number of followers that, once you reach it, you’re officially an Influencer with a capital “I”? No. But keep reading, okay?
Contrary to what you may assume, a large following or even a high engagement rate doesn’t necessarily automatically mean you’re an influencer. Conversely a smaller follower count doesn’t mean you’re not an Instagram influencer. Hear me out on this!
Influencers are people you look to for something – be it a wardrobe recommendation because you wear the same size, a trip itinerary for a destination you want to visit, or a health recommendation because you’re both going thru menopause — and that something is their expertise.
That’s all well and good, but what does an influencer do?
They create stellar, engaging content, whether through sponsored posts or not, across their various social media platforms. This content might be taking you along on their recent road trip thru Texas, showing you a new product they recommend for curly hair, or demonstrating how to make the best birria tacos.
Content creators know what’s what about a certain topic, & they speak to their target audience to either help with brand awareness, share a discount code, or educate you on the ins and oats of that one new product you’ve been meaning to try.
It’s safe to assume that the content creator you’re following has received free products from the brand they’re talking about. Some of them may have even purchased the products themselves and are simply sharing their thoughts because they genuinely want to. Additionally, many of the popular influencers you follow have likely been paid to create sponsored content and participate in affiliate marketing.
Ideally, the content they create is part of a broader marketing strategy that helps them grow their following and establish themselves as experts in their field. But, I digress.
How many followers do you need to be paid on Instagram?
Imagine yourself in a dimly lit room filled with self-proclaimed influencers, nervously sipping their artisanal coffees while exchanging follower counts like secret passwords.
So, how many followers are needed to be an influencer? If you’re hoping for a simple numerical answer here, sorry to burst your bubble.
PRO TIP : There’s no magical threshold engraved in gold where fame suddenly strikes.
Becoming a social media influencer is a journey with a slow burn. First, you need to establish yourself as an authority on something — anything! — then find your following and work on refining your personal brand.
But then, how do Influencers make money?
To be clear, no one gets paid directly by Instagram. That’s not how this world of Influencer Marketing works. Influencers who get hired as brand ambassadors in influencer campaigns — that’s where the money is. This may come about organically, with brands reaching out to you. But, more often than not, you’ll be pitching yourself.
The way it works is a brand or agency hires the social media influencer to create content, then post it to their social media channels as sponsored content. In exchange, the brand pays the influencer.
Now, how much Influencers get paid depends on a whole lot of things — i.e. the full scope of work, what type of usage the influencer gave to the brand, the exclusivity involved, etc. — but at a high level, that’s how an influencer makes money off of Instagram or any social media platform.
Why engagement matters for Influencers
Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves for the ultimate influencer truth bomb – engagement reigns supreme! In fact, I’d consider your engagement stats to be the Holy Grail of influencer marketing.
It’s not just about how many people scroll past your posts; it’s about those who genuinely engage with your posts by commenting, sharing, and forming meaningful connections with you.
After all, it’s far better to have fewer people following you with tons of likes, shares, saves & comments than it is to have a larger audience but fewer people actually engaging with your content.
Think about the different influencers you follow. Some of them might have a smaller following (we’ll discuss the different tiers of influencers in a bit) and perhaps you even know them personally or they’re local to your area. Then there are the mega influencers like Taylor Swift, Beyonce and Ariana Madix who have over a million followers!
We all know that those celebrity accounts hardly respond to comments or engage with their fans. Their DMs are often turned off, and getting a response from them is like winning the golden ticket from Willy Wonka. So yeah, they might have a massive number of followers, but their engagement rates are pretty low. They’re playing in the big leagues, leveraging their fame for online success.
Pro tip : You determine the engagement rate by counting up the # of likes and comments on a post and dividing it by the number of followers then multiplying by 100.
Of course if you’re Taylor Swift you don’t care about engagement because, well, you’re Taylor Swift. But if you’re you or me, you do care about engagement because it’s something an influencer marketing agency will care about.
It’s one reason, among many, that will help to influence them (see what I did there 😉) to hire you for influencer marketing campaigns. Engagement and high-quality content are the two biggest factors in determining which Influencer is chosen for a social media marketing campaign.
What’s more important: Quality or Quantity?
Ah, the eternal struggle between quality and quantity! In the realm of influencer-dom, it’s all about finding that elusive equilibrium between both worlds.
Sure, having thousands (or millions) of followers may make you look influential at first glance. But remember, dear reader, true influence thrives on engaging content that resonates with your audience – not just the superficial numbers.
Strong communicators increase their influence because they are intentional and focused with their language. – Dianna Boohe
So, is your ability to get paid as an influencer tied to the number of followers you have? Yes, to a degree. Do the number of followers determine if you’re a bona fide influencer or not? No.
Each brand has their own parameters on what they’re looking for — the particular niche or type of content, they want to focus on, the different platforms they want to have content on, the type of media they need, and so on.
Brands are eager to partner with you because they recognize the value you bring to your audience. It’s evident why your audience connects with the content you create, and how you’ve carved out a unique niche, establishing yourself as an expert in your field.
Here’s the thing: You can have just 10 followers and still be a meaningful influencer to those 10 individuals. On the other hand, you can have a whopping 567,987 followers on TikTok and still not be considered an influencer because you haven’t provided any specific or clear value to your audience. You feel me?
The influence you exert is through your own life, and what you’ve become yourself. – Eleanor Roosevelt
So, can I be an influencer with 200 followers?
Yes, you sure can so long as you provide value to your audience, know what you’re talking about, and people keep coming back for more of it!
Getting to know your Influencer tiers
There are generally four different types of influencer tiers, all determined by follower count.
- Mega Influencers (a.k.a. Celebrity Influencers): 1M+ followers
- Macro Influencers: 100k – 1 million followers
- Micro Influencers: 10k-100k followers
- Nano Influencers: 1-10k followers
Why Are Brands Interested In Hiring Nano Influencers?
Remember the math we talked about earlier for calculating your engagement rate? Well, here’s an interesting observation: Nano influencers, who have less than 10k followers, are almost always responsive to comments (I know I personally respond every single time), and we’re guilty of replying to DMs too! We’re deeply involved in our brand and content, often taking charge of creating and posting, as well as engaging with our audience. That means we’re tuned in to what our audience wants and needs.
As a result, smaller influencers like nano influencers often have a better grasp of what resonates with their audience when it comes to partnering with big brands. They may have smaller budgets per collaboration, but they can offer a better return on investment for the brand’s money. That’s why they’re such a hit with brands! It’s truly remarkable how these small-scale influencers go from zero to hero, making waves in their respective niches.
Micro-Influencers Save the Day
While society often fixates on influencers who have reached astronomical follower counts resembling phone numbers from another galaxy (*cough* Kardashian clan *cough*), let us not forget the power wielded by micro-influencers!
These everyday superheroes possess smaller yet highly engaged communities that hang onto their every word. Trust me when I say that 1,000 true fans are worth way more than a million apathetic ones. The sweet spot where authenticity meets influence without sacrificing relatability.
PRO TIP : A Pinch of Authenticity – Imagine being trapped in a never-ending loop of perfect selfies and sponsored posts – sounds terrifyingly monotonous, doesn’t it? Well then, sprinkle some authenticity into your content cocktail! Being genuine is key; show your real-life struggles alongside success stories because real people connect with other real people.
How many followers do you need to be an influencer FAQs
How much does Instagram pay for 1K followers?
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but let me set the record straight: Instagram doesn’t pay anyone for followers, regardless of the number. However, in the past, Instagram has paid influencers for views on their reels.
But we all know Instagram — it changes its mind more often than Lisa Rinna changes her wigs! Meta and all the other social media giants are constantly switching things up and keeping us on our toes. We’re all well aware of that, right? Right.
How do social media influencers get that many followers?
Social media influencers earn their followers through various methods.
One way is by actively engaging on different platforms. Have you ever noticed that when you leave a comment on someone else’s page, you might gain a few new followers on your own page? Or perhaps you’ve liked someone else’s comment on a social media post, clicked over to their page, and decided to follow them? It’s as simple as that!
Another way influencers gain followers is by establishing themselves as knowledgeable experts in a particular topic. Whether it’s mommyhood, budget travel, plant-based family dinners, or 145 ways to style black pants, they demonstrate their expertise and become a trusted source of information.
Think about those Instagram accounts that you always check when you open the app, just to see if they’ve posted something new. It’s their effective and educational posts that captivate you. You know you’ll get something helpful, be inspired, or learn something new from their content. This not only keeps their existing followers engaged but also attracts new followers who are drawn to their valuable content.
Can you be an influencer with 10k followers?
Yup, sure can. Just remember, serve up your audience with something helpful and valuable. Give them a reason to keep coming back to you. Solve the issues and problems that they have. If you’re just doing random dances or posting pictures of yourself with minimal captions, you may have 10k followers but not be an influencer.