Startup Thinking in Your Influencer Business
During pitches from a start-up founder, I often ask the question, “What makes you the right person to build this company?”. During a pitch a few years ago, I had a founder give a unique answer to the question, ”I just needed a job.” While that was refreshingly honest, it was also an answer that left me a little hollow as a potential investor. There was no talk of solving a problem, speaking to a customer base, or even maximizing profit. Needless to say, the startup didn’t get my money.
Thinking about this post made me think about influencers I have interacted with and some of the mentality that I think makes the best ones successful.
Maybe they think it’s an easy way to make a lot of money, and they’ve heard that anyone can do it. Or maybe they actually do have a talent for talking in front of a camera, and are able to produce really interesting content. Either way, it’s usually not enough to generate the attention required to become successful. So how do influencers who are making it big through influencer deals with brands actually do it?
Gaining influence on social media takes more than good content. It also requires a business-minded approach; more specifically, a startup business mindset.
Startups disrupt entrenched ways of thinking and doing business for entire industries (Forbes). They don’t follow a typical business model, but instead, come up with new and creative ways to offer products and services to consumers. The company, Peloton, was a startup that figured out how to provide the live, group fitness experience to consumers in the comfort of their own homes, and on their own schedules.
The dedication it takes for a startup to be successful in selling their innovative concepts can be compared to influencers, who have built a reputation for their expertise on a specific topic, and have generated a large following of people who are likely to make purchasing decisions based on what he or she is promoting on platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat or YouTube.
Here are three main traits of a successful startup team, which an influencer should also share:
1) An Obsessive Passion About Your Idea.
Startup teams know that even the best concept can fail if they aren’t willing to do everything they can to support it. This passion is what’s going to motivate a startup to continue pushing through initial failures, and pressing on to figure out the right formula that earns successful outcomes.
If you’re going to be an influencer, you need to be just as passionate. Leading with obsessive passion is what’s going to help you define who you are online. Portraying this authenticity and confidence as you talk about your topic, or post your content, builds trust among your audience and attracts the right followers and prospective marketers to your business.
Marketers of major industries will confirm. According to PRNEWS, the NFL’s manager of influencer & entertainment marketing, Jesse May, stated that one of the four factors he considers when deciding what sort of influencer to work with is, depending on the scope of the project, “Is it something they are passionate about?” He also noted the importance of seeing genuine interaction and likes between influencers and their following.
2) Be Willing to Commit the Time.
Startups usually require the team to work more hours than they would in a regular business model because they are continuously reworking the blueprints of their new idea.
For an influencer, not only does this require you to take the time to ensure you know everything about your space, but to also be able to pivot to what works better for your influencer business.
You will need to create, and most likely, re-create a plan that builds your online presence on the platforms that drive the most success for you and your content. It can take time to increase your odds of being found online, so think about how every post will enable your audience to find you on social media platforms, blogs and Google search.
According to Influencer Marketing Hub, the social media influencer statistics for 2021 show that TikTok is slowing making its way up, with 45 percent of marketers now using it for influencer marketing purposes. In addition, YouTube is currently the world’s second most visited website just after Google. So if you’re solely relying on Instagram photos to keep your audience engaged, you may want to think about if you can invest extra time to provide consistent content on other platforms, especially if your content could be better showcased with how-to videos and tutorials.
3) Be Unique Within a Large Market.
Startups need to make sure there are enough people who want their product or service. Influencers should be just as aware of the amount of opportunity that exists, and how to best navigate to the top of the leaderboard of that market.
According to Ion, nearly 80 percent of beauty brands launch influencer marketing initiatives and 76 percent of those brands target millennials. So while there’s a large market there, influencers who focus on this industry must be aggressive and quickly learn from their mistakes to be competitive. Your content may have been interesting, but did it speak directly enough to the millennial audience? This research is crucial in your planning, and will assist you in establishing a unique tone to stand out to your target audience.
In addition, influencers may succumb to pressure to post anything just to be present, but this mistake could lead to a decrease in audience engagement. Quickly realizing you need to be as relevant as possible every time you share or post is necessary to gain back your audience’s trust before they tune out completely.
If an influencer can bring obsessive passion, an intense time commitment and uniqueness to his or her content every time, they just might have the perseverance to ride the highs and lows that startups experience, especially in the beginning.
These traits can help an influencer:
1) Gain and keep their audience’s trust
2) Learn from mistakes and remain flexible to changing course
3) Stand out among competitors in a large market
It may not be the easy road, but it’s the right track for the serious startup influencer