Want to be a social media influencer?

LOS ANGELES 23-year-old Eddie Infante started posting comedy videos on TikTok after graduating from college. Its content seems effortless – jokes about dating as a young gay man in Southern California and plenty of food articles, including his popular “What I Eat in a Day” series. These videos always start with iced coffee in a donut chain.

But what seems improvised was strategic. When he first launched his channel in 2020, Infante was lining up behind the wheel of his local Dunkin ‘at 7:45 a.m. so he could film, edit and post his food reviews early enough. to create user pages for you, just as they get up for their own morning coffee. The Long Beach-based influencer, who has 23,000 followers on TikTok, said he’s been sticking to that schedule for months.

Building a brand, cultivating an following and maintaining a consistent level of production takes time, energy and a “willingness to push,” Infante said.

When he launched his channel, Infante was still working full-time in influencer marketing for an agency based in Costa Mesa, California.

“So at the same time, I was growing little by little, I was doing my own thing,” he said. “During the break, I saw what I could quickly film, post, and then get back to work.”

A digital content creator or influencer is someone whose online videos, photos or podcasts are followed, listened to, and approved by a large audience. They tend to specialize in one topic – beauty, lifestyle, pop culture, and food are some of the most popular – but you’ll find influencers of all kinds.

Anyone with a social media account can try to join the ranks of influencers and help define the Next Big Thing. But gaining an audience requires a strong work ethic, resources, and creativity, along with uncontrollable factors like luck, the right timing, and the help of the mysterious algorithms of social media platforms.

Q. What kind of content should you create?

A. Find your niche and be authentic, advises Infante.

Maintaining your authenticity, he said, is more important than the money a brand gives you. He acknowledged that not all influencers operate under the same guiding principles, but cautioned against being drawn to the promise of income in exchange for your audience’s trust.

Soy Nguyen, known as foodwithsoy for its more than 558,000 followers on TikTok, said brand awareness is the key to a successful feed. Empowerment and positivity are at the heart of her brand’s message, and she creates content with that in mind.

There are videos – videos where she sips spicy ramen or street tacos with mind-numbing salsa – that she knows will constantly get a lot of views, and others, like her series “eat with me the Sunday ”, which she does not do for the hits but because they represent her brand and the message of positivity that she wants to spread.

Melody Cheng, Helen Wu and Janet Wang, co-founders of the “Asian Boss Girl” podcast, worked in corporate America for over 10 years and had hours of stories to tell about workplace drama and their lives. as Asian American women.

Vulnerability and compassion are two traits that Cheng says will make your content more appealing to your audience and therefore strengthen your interaction. Authenticity, she said, does not necessarily manifest itself in high quality production or in being “the best of the best”. Being the best at what you do is more than enough.

Also, while a platform can be all the rage at one point, don’t force yourself to create things that you aren’t comfortable with. The embarrassment and discomfort will appear on the screen, Cheng said. You can use some platforms just for fun, Wu said, and others for business.

Q. How do the platforms work?

A. Each social media platform uses algorithms to select and promote a fraction of the content posted there to a wider audience. This is how platforms present users with content creators that they had not yet discovered. But like the man behind the curtain in “The Wizard of Oz”, the code behind the algorithms is hidden, how they work is a mystery to the public.

Here is some of what we know. The algorithms are designed to fill user feeds with content interesting enough to keep them on the site for as long as possible. To do this, the algorithms take into account what users reveal about themselves in their profiles and behavior on the site, including what content they have interacted with and what content similar users have found most engaging.

But the algorithms for each platform are different. That means it takes a lot of trial and error to figure out what works for your content, according to Infante.

Despite the secrecy and unpredictability of algorithms, there are things you can do to harness their power.

Nguyen said that strong content is the most important and the more consistent your interactions, the more likely you are to be part of the flow of content that the platform’s algorithm widely promotes.

Taking a look at what’s in your own feed, Infante said, is a good way to gauge what’s going to resonate. Examining hashtags, songs, dances, or trending topics can help prime the pump for your content’s success.

Consistent and frequent thematic posts on the brand with calls for users to interact in the comments, Infante said, are good guiding principles when it comes to creating your content.

Q. How do people make money with this?

A. The key is to amass a significant number of subscribers or followers. With billions of people obsessively viewing social media, the potential audience is huge. But so is the competition for attention.

The more frequently a platform’s algorithm retrieves your content, the more views you will get and the more your audience will grow. The more your audience grows, the more money you can make from advertisers, sponsors and other sources. But you have to attract thousands of dedicated followers in order to earn meaningful income.

On TikTok, the Creator Fund pays people who post popular videos based on the number of views and followers they have. To be eligible for the fund, you must be at least 18 years old and have 10,000 subscribers, and your videos must have attracted at least 100,000 views in the previous 30 days.

For creators like Infante who are just starting to find success, that means you can go months without getting paid. The amount you get paid depends on several factors. Glassdoor estimates that influencers can earn between $ 29,000 and $ 141,000 per year.

Those with a larger audience can generate income in other ways. For the “Asian Boss Girl” podcast team, their main sources of income are advertisers and merchandising.

When it comes to working with corporate sponsors, Infante cautioned: Know your worth and always ask questions.

He said consider how much time, energy and money you put into producing your content. Online calculators can give you a rough estimate of how much you could – and should – charge per post.

Infante explained that some companies send out free products just to get the promotion they can, while others want something specific in return. Always make sure you know their expectations before you say yes to anyone. Think of an agreement with a corporate sponsor as an hourly wage. Are you getting paid enough for the work you do? If the answer is no, he said, move on.

Q. What are you getting into?

A. Maintaining a brand as a social media influencer is not a regular 9 to 5 job. Depending on the size of your audience and the type of content you are producing, you can spend two hours a day like Phillip Miner, a queer art curator, eight like Ngyuen to create and assemble material.

But this line of work is not for everyone. Miner said that if you’re looking to really ‘make it big,’ continuing the life of a social media influencer can leave you ‘miserable and unsatisfied.’ Do it for yourself, he said, and know that the road to success is not easy.

Protecting your sanity, Infante said, is more important than any platform growth you might have. Nguyen advised against getting into the game with people in the comments and keeping the boundaries between work and personal life so as not to be consumed by bad actors spewing negativity and hate.

And if you can grow your audience, Nguyen said, really sit down and assess your “why”. A larger audience also means more people will interact with you, positively or negatively. She also suggests having an ultimate goal in mind to keep you grounded and guided in your creative process.

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