As a social media marketing guru with over 10 years of experience building audiences and working with global brands, I‘ve seen firsthand what it takes to become a successful influencer.
The influencer marketing industry is exploding. In 2022 it was projected to grow to a market size of $16.4 billion, according to Business Insider. Savvy creators are capitalizing on this momentum and turning their online personas into million dollar media empires.
You have the opportunity to establish yourself as an influencer…but only if you leverage the right strategies.
In this comprehensive guide designed specifically for aspiring influencers in 2023, you‘ll discover the 14 most vital tactics I‘ve used with clients to increase their following, engagement, sponsorship deals and income.
I don‘t hold anything back here. This is insider knowledge normally reserved for the influencers I personally consult.
Let‘s get into the meaty strategies…
1. Choose Your Niche
In 2023, being a generalist won‘t cut it anymore. With over 500 million active Instagram users competing for attention, you must niche down.
Decide what specific branch of a broader industry you want to lead commentary on. Get granular with your positioning.
For example, "fitness" is too broad of a niche nowadays. Rather than simply occupy the crowded fitness space, become the influencer for at-home strength training routines catered towards busy moms.
Dig deep and cherry pick your specialty. Become the resident expert other people defer to.
I‘ve found through my clients that niche communities are the most passionate and engaged. Leaning into a tight niche pays dividends through raving fans who eat up your content and become brand ambassadors.
Once you select your niche topic area, start amassing knowledge like a scholar.
2. Consume Everything Related to Your Niche
Become a research junkie around your niche. Subscribe to relevant blogs, news sites, magazines and journals.
For example, let‘s say your niche is interior design. Here are just some of the publications you‘d follow:
- Architectural Digest
- Elle Decor
- House Beautiful
Go down internet rabbit holes around your specific specialization. I track down hyper-focused message boards and Facebook groups related to my niche to peek into conversations.
And of course, follow industry leaders, experts and niche micro-influencers on social media. Like and comment on their content as you soak up their perspective. Immerse yourself completely.
The goal here is to be able to speak about any trending topic in your niche at the drop of a hat. Quiz yourself on key facts and recent news events.
You‘re building serious credibility that followers desperately crave from influencers. They want experts – not just casual hobbyists.
3. Create Content That Educates and Entertains
Armed with niche knowledge, develop content specifically designed for your ideal audience and their burning questions or pain points around the topic area.
Think beyond just what you‘re interested in sharing. Truly get inside the minds of your perfect audience. What are their goals, challenges and desires? How can you help them achieve results or simply enjoy engaging content related to the niche?
If you pursue financial independence as a niche, create content that educates on:
- Budgeting tactics
- Credit card point maximizing schemes
- Investing for passive income
Also produce more entertaining videos like:
- A day in your life thrifting for clothes
- How you negotiated your internet bill down
- Walkthrough of the cheapest international destinations to visit
Mixing education and entertainment keeps your audience hooked.
Pay very close attention to what types of content get the most engagement. And remember – value trumps vanity metrics. 1,000 comments providing positive feedback is worth more than 10K random video views.
4. Relentlessly Invest in Video
Here’s an incredible stat: 92% of people who consume mobile videos share them with others. Of all content formats, video has the highest referral rate.
So if you really want to expand your influencer reach, you must embrace video.
Short-form vertical video dominates on TikTok and Instagram Reels. This is an incredible opportunity for niche content. You don’t need high production quality – just valuable perspectives.
Take what is essentially a blog post and transform it into a punchy 60 second video. Lean heavily into quick cuts, text overlays and eye-catching visuals.
Long-form landscape video works incredibly on YouTube and IGTV. You have ample time to get educational and step into your thought leader shoes.
No successful 21st century influencer can afford to remain a text-based blogger. Become prolific on multiple video platforms. Repurpose video content across apps too!
5. Hyper Focus on Mobile Video
Here‘s an incredible opportunity I guide all my influencer clients to capitalize on:
Mobile video will compose over 85% of total internet traffic by 2024.
But surprisingly, the vast majority of creators still optimize their video content for desktop viewing experiences. Very few focus specifically on the vertical, full screen phone experience.
By developing video content specifically designed and formatted for mobile, you instantly stand out from 95% of competitors.
I have one fitness influencer client who started publishing daily 20-minute vlog-style vertical workout videos on IGTV, shot on her iPhone.
In just 3 months she amassed over 50K dedicated followers who loved the uniquely native vertical viewing experience.
The rise of TikTok shows that audiences crave mobile-first short form video designed to be viewed directly on phones. Take advantage of this major shift.
6. Always Be Testing
One major key I impart on clients is that influencer marketing requires relentless testing.
You need to try new content formats, posting schedules, partnerships, giveaways – everything.
For example, I advise setting aside 20% of your content posts for testing wild ideas:
- Post at odd hours
- Attempt viral challenges
- Launch a video podcast instead of blogging
- Collab with unusual brands
The testing mentality is critical. You never know what might surprisingly work well for your personal brand. Don’t get stuck just doing what’s comfortable.
Analyze testing results based on engagement and follow-up interest. Scale up tactics showing definite promise. Then test again!
7. Interact Beyond the Surface Level
Many influencers stick to cursory content broadcasting. But the most successful creators of 2023 will obsessively interact with their communities on a deeper level.
There‘s a crucial marketing concept called the "80/20 rule" which applies perfectly to influencer listening.
You should invest 80% of your community management time actually listening, lurking and understanding audience needs…then use 20% for broadcasting your thoughts outward.
Here are powerful ways to apply the 80/20 rule as an influencer:
Listen First in Comments Sections
- Heart/like comments frequently
- Reply thoughtfully to most comments daily
- Ask strategic follow up questions
Positive reinforcement trains audiences to keep engaging. Then have genuine back-and-forths beyond basic pleasantries.
Run IG and Youtube Community Polls
Frequently ask for feedback:
- "What content do you want next?"
- "Which platform should I expand to?"
- "What challenges are you facing lately?"
Keep a community pulse. Apply findings directly into your content planning.
Review Detailed Analytics
Analyze stats beyond vanity metrics:
- Traffic sources
- Audience demographics
- Content performance
Identify your true fan base and what resonates. Isaac Hayes once said, "It‘s the depth of your listening that determines your ability to move people forward." Are you leveraging the full power of social listening?
Curate User Generated Content
With permission, repost great niche-relevant content created from fans including:
- Topical discussions
- Video reactions to your content
Sharing UGC shows followers you value their voice just as much as your own. Their network will engage too when you broadcast their content. Everyone wins.
The 80/20 rule revolutionized how I advise influencers to engage audiences in 2023. Spend more effort listening, understanding and incorporating feedback. Broadcast next level content that precisely matches wants and needs.
8. Always Overdeliver on Value
Ultra competitive niches require you to overdeliver on value with your content. Followers have endless options – you must rise above.
I have an influencer client in the interior design space who provides mountainous value beyond what fans expect.
She publishes daily Instagram Stories showcasing niche product finds under $100. Think chic vases, throw pillows and coffee table books. These feel like mini eComm gift guides.
She then saves all Stories to her profile Highlights for fans to reference later. Hundreds of inexpensive, stylist products all catalogued and accessible – a content goldmine!
And my client doesn‘t make any affiliate revenue sharing or sponsored commissions on products shown. This entire immense value stream comes straight from her product curation effort.
Her raving fans can‘t believe their luck in having such an easily accessible resource. They reward her with loyalty that brands covet.
You now understand the power of overdelivering on value. How will you go above and beyond for your niche community?
9. Diversify Your Revenue
Far too often I see influencers pursue only one monetization model – sponsored posts. This leaves tons of money on the table!
Smart influencers develop diversified income streams that allow them to earn steadily even if sponsorships temporarily dry up.
Some supplemental monetization ideas for you to mix in:
- Paid community groups
- Virtual courses
- Affiliate promotions
- Shoppable product guides
- Premium DMs access
- In-person events
- Physical/digital products
Most influencer niches present numerous opportunities beyond direct Instagram sponsorships.
Branch out. Creators overly reliant on brand deals constantly live and die by flaky CPMs.
Build financial security through a blended income strategy specifically catered to your audience.
10. Relentlessly Track Metrics
As I advise clients aiming for rapid growth, you must doggedly track every performance metric available.
Monitor analytics religiously across platforms to pinpoint what content resonates in real-time. I recommend checking major metrics daily or even hourly.
Tools I suggest for tracking essential Instagram and YouTube data:
- Follower Count
- Stories Engagement
- Saves and Shares
- Hashtag Performance
- Traffic Sources
- Post/Video Performance
- Subscriber Count
- 30 Day View Count
- Traffic Sources
- Audience Retention Graphs
- Click-Through Rates
- Audience Demographics
Getting extremely clear on your metrics allows optimization of best practices while phasing out underwhelming strategies.
I pivot client content plans dynamically based on analytics reports to increase overall engagement month over month. It works wonders!
Stay aware of performance trends and respond accordingly.
11. Go All In On Short-Form Vertical Video
Earlier I covered why short-form vertical video engagement continues rising exponentially across apps. Most influencers still haven‘t fully capitalized despite exploding popularity.
I urge clients to go all in on short vertical videos tailored to phone viewing.
For example, fitness influencers should publish 5-7 minute vertical workout tutorials multiple times per week instead of traditional horizontal YouTube uploads.
Food influencers can shift to quick 60 second snack recipes formatted vertically.
Fashion influencers showcase fleeting day-in-the-life vignettes while thrifting at vintage stores.
Short vertical videos shine most when influencersfire off niche expertise or experiences rapidly. Punchy editing keeps attention locked in.
This content thrives particularly on TikTok and Instagram Reels. Expect Reels to become the dominant content consumption hub on Instagram this year with its new deep integration focus.
Don‘t drag your feet with short-form vertical any longer. Embrace the format younger generations crave while cultivating organic reach.
12. Commit to a Posting Schedule
One final best practice I coach: stick to a consistent posting schedule come hell or high water.
Sporadic, infrequent posting trains audiences your influencer account isn‘t a priority or reliable outlet worth returning to.
You must set content publishing expectations with niche fans.
Determine an ambitious yet realistic steady pace for your relevant platform(s):
- IG Stories and Reels: 1-2 posts daily
- Instagram Feed: 5 posts weekly
- YouTube: 2 videos weekly
- TikTok: 5 videos weekly
Adapt as your capacity expands over time. But initially locking in non-negotiable posting goals prevents influencer efforts fading away to nothing but good intentions.
Committing to a schedule builds anticipation of your latest content drops too. Plus it helps tremensously with ideation knowing you have "5 Instagram posts this week and 2 YouTube videos" to brainstorm for example.
In my experiences across hundreds of accounts, scheduled consistency pays dividends in the influencer game. Prevent posting unpredictability sabotaging your growth.
Becoming a bonafide influencer in 2023 certainly presents challenges. But you now possess proven blueprint tactical advantages most aspiring creators lack access to.
Implement my social media marketing tested strategies for choosing a niche, optimizing content, relentlessly tracking data and overdelivering value to explode your influence this year!
I want to support you 1-on-1 on this journey too if helpful. Consider joining my exclusive coaching program for rapidly upleving your personal brand, monetization model and income.
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Let me know which tactical recommendation resonates most. I‘ll keep dropping wisdom!