Social Media Micro Influencer – 5 things I have learnt about being an Instagram Micro Influencer
Updated: Feb 5
Social Media Micro Influencer – 5 things I have learnt about being an interiors and lifestyle Instagram micro influencer.
In October 2018 I was persuaded by a friend and hugely successful Instagram influencer that I too could turn my passion for interiors, photography, writing and Instagram into a career rather than an enjoyable pastime. I felt reserved and sceptical at first but soon came around to my friend’s way of thinking and openly welcomed a new career path which would be both enjoyable and ultimately profitable.
My initial reservations regarding becoming a social media influencer questioned the morals and ethics of this un-moderated career path. Media coverage of social media influencers is often scathing, fuelled by high profile celebrities who use their position to falsely and dishonestly promote brands. It’s been a challenge which has played havoc with my conscience. The daily responsibility weighs heavy on my shoulders but I made a personal pledge to remain true and honest to myself whilst still delivering the best visibly appealing and honest content I can for the brands I work with and my followers.
I have learnt a lot in just over a year and there’s nothing quite like putting what I’ve read or been told into practice. Instagram Influencer - it’s a new and uncharted job title for me and there’s a certain amount of finding my feet and defining my own job description as I go along – ‘flying by the seat of my pants’ springs to mind.
As a social media Instagram influencer there are three questions which I am asked most often;
1. What is a social media influencer?
In a nut shell an influencer has many social media followers, has established online credibility and also maintains a high engagement rate. An influencer uses their position to highlight brands products and services to their followers in exchange for payment.
2. How do I become an influencer?
My advice is do as I did – read as many ‘how to become an influencer’ blogs as you can find and chat to other influencers. I also offer 1-2-1 coaching and would be happy to help you start or develop your Instagram influencer journey drawing on my own personal experience.
3. Do you get sent free products?
Yes and no. Yes, I have received gifts through the post but there’s always a cost. Nothing in life is free. I’ll pick up this topic again later as one of my 5 things I have learnt about being an interiors and lifestyle Instagram micro influencer.
Below are 5 things I have learnt about being an interiors and lifestyle Instagram micro influencer which I worked out for myself;
1. Maintain authenticity and credibility
My followers trust me and my opinion. I do not want to abuse that trust.
As a newbie influencer I initially wanted to undertake as many paid assignments as possible. As Tom Cruise once said in the film Jerry Maguire – ‘show me the money’. It soon became apparent however how uncomfortable I feel when I am asked to work with a brand who I myself don’t know, trust or believe in. This feeling makes me feel sick in the pit of my stomach.
I now regularly turn away opportunities for paid influencer work, preferring to spend my time working with clients with whom I truly feel aligned. Equally, if it’s a product I haven’t experienced previously I insist on time to use it, evaluate and form my own opinion. It’s important to know what I’m talking about – my followers deserve that. Nothing makes me happier than receiving a happy and thankful message from a follower who has made a purchase after seeing something I showed on my feed.
As I’m writing I have just received a collaboration opportunity to work with a very well known budget high street home wares brand. I have immediately and politely declined this opportunity. It is not a brand I ever shop with and it would be false for me to pretend that I do. This collaboration is not right for me, my followers or the brand.
2. My social media account is my brand
Don’t be bullied by a brand to post something you don’t feel comfortable with.
Most brands want to work with an influencer because they recognise a synergy. I love a client brief which instructs me to use my creative individuality. Occasionally however a brand client may want to use my account merely as a billboard for their own brand identity. On these occasions I stand firm and aim to educate the brand – my followers want to see my brand image and that is what is key to their brand campaign. As yet I haven’t reached this point but if they were insistent on their approach I would walk away rather than compromise my own brand image.
Recently a brand asked me to resubmit an image as they felt it was too dark and they didn’t feel that their product was the main focus of the post. They requested a light and bright flat-lay. I nearly cried at the thought. It took some time to work through with the brand client but they eventually agreed with my thought process and conceded. It turned out to be one of the most successful posts of their entire campaign.
3. There is no such thing as a freebie
A gift from a brand is a business transaction. When a brand offers to send a gift they invariably want something in return.
Who doesn’t love receiving a gift in the post? It’s always flattering when a brand asks if they can send a gift. You may be surprised then to read that I often say no. I view all gifts as a different form of payment. If the gift is a product which I am genuinely interested in I always clarify the client’s expectations before saying yes.
One of the very first gifts I received was an eye opener; it was greatly appreciated but low value. In my naivety I hadn’t confirmed with this small brand their expectations and despite mentioning the brand in my stories and on my Instagram feed they contacted me to express their disappointment. They wanted hundreds of pounds worth of promotion for the cost of a low value gift. I learnt a very valuable lesson very early on and one which I don’t care to repeat.
4. Formalise the client/influencer agreement
A formal contract may not be needed but a gentleman’s handshake is never enough.
Most influencer jobs are very clear cut – a professional brand asks the influencer to complete an assignment, the influencer complete the assignment and the client pays the influencer with money or in kind. Occasionally however the brand /influencer relationship may be a little hazy. After a bad experience I am less inclined to enter into less professional gentleman’s handshake agreements for fear of getting burnt.
Last year I approached a brand and asked if they would like an ongoing collaborative relationship. It was a product I used and loved and therefore collaboration made perfect sense. I was thrilled to forged ahead with a casual agreement; a straight exchange of product for content. I gladly waxed lyrical about the product and produced copious content. With a gentleman’s handshake agreement in place I was utterly taken aback when I contacted the brand for the next product payment-in-kind. The brand moved the goalposts now wanting both payment and content. It was possibly my greatest disappointment and upset to date on this Instagram journey. I had delivered thousands of pounds worth of content for a pittance. I was devastated but a valuable lesson was learnt; be professional, only work with professional brands, be wary of payments in kind and always document a business agreement.
5. Don’t be lazy - treat every job as though you’re being paid thousands
No matter what I’m being paid or which brand I’m working with I always go above and beyond.
Whatever I do I like to give it my best shot and influencing is no exception. I am a firm believer that if something is worth doing it is worth doing well.
I used to look brand campaigns and question why I had spent hours working on a post when another influencer had obviously snapped a shot in a matter of minutes. Initially it galled me to think we were getting paid the same fee yet my post was far more polished and ultimately a more successful post delivering greater results for the client. My conclusion is that my professionalism and commitment will shine through and over time I am collating a portfolio of successful brand campaigns which I can be proud of and showcase me at my best. My hope is that I will develop ongoing relationships with brands.
As my social media influencer journey continues I intend to remain true to myself; delivering high quality, honest and reliable content and am looking forward to all my followers and more joining me on the journey.
If you would like some 1-2-1 influencer coaching with me either face to face, by telephone or Skype please do get in touch.