I recently read a post online that talked about being a social media influencer. Specifically how everyone with an Instagram account is a ‘micro-influencer’. This isn’t anymore true than you being a car salesperson because you like your car.
The problem is, what defines a social media influencer?
At what point does a person go from ‘another social account’ to ‘influencer’ and what level do they fit in?
According to pixlee.com, a social media influencer is a
“user on social media who has established credibility in a specific industry. A social media influencer has access to a large audience and can persuade others by virtue of their authenticity and reach.”
So what is a ‘large audience’?
Globally, regionally and locally, ‘audience size’ has different definitions. And over time, the definition has changed as more and more people have jumped on social media. It’s all about numbers really.
A few years ago, 10,000 followers/subscribers was considered a ‘large audience’ because back then, only a few people were on social media as an influencer. Now in 2017, 1 million is large and 10 million+ is big.
We can look at YouTube as a way to define influencer size in part thanks to their rewards program.
YouTube send gifts to YouTuber’s who pass milestones. Currently there are 3(ish) rewards YouTube hands out.
100,000 subscribers – Silver Play Button
After your channel legitimately passes 100,000 subscribes, YouTube will send you a Silver play button mounted on a frame.
1,000,000 subscribers – Gold Play Button
After you’re channel legitimately passes 1,000,000 subscribes, YouTube will send you a Gold play button mounted on a frame.
10,000,000 subscribers – Diamond Play Button
If you’re channel legitimately passes 10,000,000 subscribes, YouTube will send you a Diamond play button in a cushioned box.
50,000,000 subscribers – Ruby Play Button
It’s unsure what this is and if it’s an actual thing. Only 1 channel has received the Ruby play button. PewDiePie surpassed 50 million subscribers and received his Ruby Play Button in the shape of his channel logo. Since only 1 person has received this and it’s not an official YouTube creator reward, it’s unclear if this is a thing and what it will be or if YouTube were just being nice.
But it’s the size of these rewards that show how the influencer definition has changed over time. In the beginning, the frames and buttons were quite big.
In 2012, YouTube introduced the silver play button to reward users. That was quickly surpassed by the gold play button and just 3 years after launching the silver button, YouTube introduced the Diamond Play Button.
Then YouTube started making the silver and gold buttons smaller because of how many people were receiving them.
Side note: This change seems to have made ‘original’ play buttons more special than the current ones.
Currently YouTube is the only social media platform that has a rewards platform for it’s users as well as a readily available monetisation program to earn money on ads displayed on your video.
Just define an Influencer already!?
Ok! An influencer is someone who’s following is significantly higher than the amount they follow. As well as having a certain percentage of engagement on individual posts and posting content that is enticing. This engagement level is relative to the users follower count.
I am going to focus global influencer numbers because they are kind of easy to define compared to regional and local influencer levels. That’s because, regional and local numbers change based on various factors including population.
A ‘Micro-Influencer’ which is why I started this post is loosely anyone with 10,000-30,000 followers/subscribers.
It’s important to remember that being an influencer isn’t just about numbers alone. As pixlee.com said, its about establishing credibility as well. Here’s a rough look at different influencer levels from what I’ve seen around social media.
- Small-Influencer: 30,000 – 100,000 followers.
- Influencer: 100,000 – 1,000,000 followers.
- Large Influencer: 1,000,000 – 10,000,00 followers
- Big Influencer: 10,000,000+ followers
Where does this put my account?
Sadly, probably nowhere. That sounds harsh and it probably is but it’s also reality. Just because you have a lot of followers doesn’t mean you’re instantly a global ‘influencer’.
As I said earlier, an influencer has credibility, active engagement and a large following which makes them enticing to brands and businesses. At the end of the day, an influencer is a job title meaning you get paid for what you post. That might sound fun but it also means that you are working and running a business. If you’re getting something in return (other than a shout out) on a regular basis then that’s influencing. If you are able to live full time of influencing, that makes you a social media influencer.
However as I also mentioned earlier, I’m talking globally, so this doesn’t mean you aren’t at a local or regional influencer level.
This also doesn’t mean you’re not on you’re way to being an influencer. Being an influencer doesn’t happen overnight (unless you get lucky) and it doesn’t just happen. It takes hard work, constant posting, engagement and passion. Reward comes from perseverance and passion and throughout this whole process it’s important to stay true to yourself if you want to become a social media influencer.
I’ve seen some social media accounts with 10,000-100,000 followers that aren’t influencers but have amassed a large following. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I’ve seen accounts with 10,000-100,000 followers that are doing brand deals and are trying to influencer their viewers.
Ultimately, don’t push it. Social Media is about presentation, mutual engagement and genuine interest, if you push to hard or appear to be arrogant you’ll quickly lose your influence status as people stop engaging.