What Is A Social Media Influencer?

Illustration by Damehi Laloo

Shalini Chopra is a fashion and luxury lifestyle influencer from Bangalore who has been blogging for the last 8 years. She started her social media accounts as a way to reach out to like-minded people when she moved to a new city and now has over 400,000 followers on Instagram. “I started as a hobby, however, took it as career since my heart lies in blogging and it is a good source of revenue as well,” Chopra says. Keeping relevant is always top priority but Shalini firmly believes that it is more important to be honest and maintain one’s own identity as it is easy to get lost in the crowd.

(c) Shalini Chopra

What is a social media influencer?

Social media influencers are people who have built a reputation for their knowledge and expertise on a particular topic and are mainly on social media. Social media influencers are now crucial in marketing campaigns with a report stating companies use 5 to 7 per cent of resources towards these campaigns. It is an extremely effective marketing technique and according to MarketingSherpa, a whopping 95 per cent of adults aging from 18 to 34 are more likely to follow a brand on some social media platform. The American reality-personality Kylie Jenner is reportedly the highest paid influencer making $1 million for every Instagram post followed closely by the pop-star Selena Gomez who is paid $800,000 for every post.

While those are astronomical figures indeed, at much lower levels here in India, the age of the social media influencer has dawned.

(c) Shreya Smita Bhuyan

A number of young people are also using the powers of social media to market themselves and build their brand. And for a few of them, the tag of social media influncer is starting to become a rather lucrative hustle.

Shreya Smita Bhuyan is a blogger with more that 19,000 followers on Instagram, a following that’s taken her a little more than a year-and-ahalf to garner. While Bhuyan’s MMBS studies are her main area of focus, that she has a social media following worth growing is a fact that is not lost on her. “Some of the ways that have worked for me the most include paid promotions on Instagram, cross-promotions via fellow influencers, of course hashtags on Instagram and most of all, meeting new people in real life via fashion events, meet-ups etc.”

Bhuyan does get paid to advertise products and services. She collaborates with brands and products that she says are her niche. “I see so many people these days jumping from fashion to food to technology and what not, but for me, it’s not about doing whatever comes along,” she explains. “My first priority is my followers so I want to only create content that my followers can relate to.

“I have rejected a number of collaborations ranging from life insurance to kids fashion to something related to smoking, but if it is something that does not fit my niche or something I wouldn’t promote in actual life, I’ll straightaway say no to it.”

(c) Drishti Gwalani

What about likes and follows and shares? How does one gauge them?

Bhuyan expalined that the likes and reach per post vary as Instagram is constantly changing its algorithm. “Sometimes posting at the same time would get me 26,000 reach, sometimes 14,000 and sometimes 7,000 but the current algorithm decreases post visibility and shows it to a smaller percentage of followers and that is when Instagram ads come into play.”

Being an influencer is not as easy as it looks on Instagram as there is a target that each one has to reach. Creating and editing content is also quite the cumbersome process. Companies and brands are strict about what they expect out of the posts they are paying for. While Bhuyan’s Instagram-influencer escapdes will probbaly take a backseat to her carrer in medicine, another influnecer Drishti Gwalani is hopeful she can make social media her life-long career.

Gwalani is a luxury brand management student and has 24,000 followers on Instagram. She sees social media as this extremely convenient tool to stay in touch and express opinions. Content is the most imporant thing in building a following. “Creating content relevant to each one of my followers and also giving my unbiased opinions on each product and brand maintains authenticity and helps my followers believe in me.”

(c) Gia Haobam

Gia Haobam is from Manipur describes herself as a fashion influencer. She has about 20,000 followers on Instagram. At a time which is described as the digital age, she sees no reason why she can’t make social media her full time job. “We live in a digital age where you can make a career being social but we need to plan, strategize and more importantly focus on execution and follow-through,” she says.

Do Influencers get paid well?

Haobam frankly says, “No free work for being creative.” And the creativity is apparent in the posts of influencers which take time to shoot and edit. It is much more than just taking pictures. It is curating a profile which will develop a brand around them.

Another influencer Sayani Roy has close to 50,000 followers on Instagram. The 28-year-old bridal make-up artist from West Bengal is of the impression that social media is a great platform for showcasing her passion for fashion, beauty and make-up. “I love to collaborate so that I get to work with different brands and people which will lead to increased exposure.”

(c) Sayani Roy

Social media is a brutal world where the competition is only getting tougher. Influencers have to make sure their content is captivating and relevant. They also have to deal with fiercely opinionated audiences but passion drives most influencers. We live in a world where the internet and social media dominate our daily lives so it comes as no surprise that young people are finding ways to monetise from it; being braver and bolder while venturing into alternative careers.






Author: Jessica Passah

Jessica Passah is a Staff Writer. She has a B.A in English Literature from Hans Raj College, New Delhi, and an M.A in Public Administration from the Indira Gandhi National Open University.

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