What Does it Mean to Be an Influencer on Social Media?

A social media influencer is basically anyone that’s built an audience online. From foodies to fashion divas and those that just want to connect with their fans during the minutia of life, being an influencer means sharing a bit of yourself and the things you like to do with people that want to hear from you.

Some influencers are bonafide celebrities in their own right, such as much of the Kardashian-Jenner clan, or they might even be sports stars or entertainers such as Cristiano Ronaldo, The Rock or Kevin Hart, but you don’t need to have an audience in the hundreds of millions to be a social media influencer. In fact, you can be an influencer with only dozens of followers, as long as your followers look to you as some kind of authority. 

What Is a Social Media Influencer?

For the most part, social media influencers are content creators that have a social media following. They share quality content online that informs, entertains or inspires their audience, connecting them with their fans on a regular basis. 

As opposed to traditional celebrities that will share, support and discuss their work periodically, influencers are always creating, posting and interacting with their audiences. They start conversations, set trends and drive interest with their fanbases, and sometimes they’ll even work with brands to promote products or services.

Where Did “Influencer” Come From?

Surprisingly enough, the word influencer dates back to the 17th century. But for today’s influencers, it’s still an apt description. Ultimately, influencers influence their audiences and the culture of social media online. However, leveraging someone’s likeness to sell an idea, product or service is nothing new — but the democratization is.

On today’s social media platforms, anyone can build and nurture their own audience at a size and engagement level that works for them. They might not be spokespeople for large brands or social movements, but they do speak for themselves and their audience, which can create a powerful connection between the social media influencer and their fans.

What Makes a Social Media Influencer?

While there are many types of social media influencers out there, what makes a social media influencer is typically their personalities and their audiences. By exposing and sharing who they are and what makes them tick, internet influencers are able to connect with their followers via a direct line of communication that can drive engagement and social conversations. 

There may not be any hard rules as to what an influencer is, but most are judged based on the size of their audience and their engagement levels, particularly in influencer marketing circles. Some influencers are micro-influencers, or those with audiences between 10,000 and 50,000, while others are macro-influencers, or those with large audiences between 500,000 and 1 million.

There are also nano-influencers (1k to 10k followers), mid-tier influencers (50k to 500k), mega-influencers (1m to 5m) and celebrities (more than 5m followers). But the secret of influencers is that you can be a successful influencer regardless of the size of your audience. As long as you’re creating content that your audience loves, that’s the mark of a great influencer.

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