Column: So You Want to Be an Influencer? Here's How to Make Sure You're Reaching the Broadest Audience Possible
We sit on the edge of a new and exciting era for digital content creators. The real-world fight for social justice is changing the online and social media landscape, ushering in a broad cultural transformation that is long overdue. The antiquated practice of targeting a narrow and homogenous audience — similar in aspects like race, color, and physical appearance — isn't going to produce the desired upticks in viewers. In fact, it will more likely work against your growth.
For creators looking to succeed in this new world, the focus must shift from reflecting sameness to celebrating differences. Any meaningful growth strategy needs to center on honoring who we really are as a nation: a sea of unique, interconnected individuals coming from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds, life experiences and perspectives.
To some, this may feel like an unrecognizable environment in which the rules of the game are suddenly unfamiliar. (That's a good thing. Such discomfort often leads to the best kind of growth, both as a person and a brand).
Before crafting new content or campaigns, creators and agencies must make a habit of asking three crucial questions:
- Am I creating content for a diverse audience? Examine your current audience and ask: "who is missing?" During the last several months, we have seen a great awakening among influencers to the prospect that not only feeds, but entire campaigns have lacked color. By choosing to follow and actively promote other creators of color, along with BIPOC-owned businesses, brands and individuals can automatically expand what might be an otherwise limited audience.
- Am I using common themes across platforms? Content syndication is key to growing an audience base. Still, many creators make the all-too-common mistake of posting content that is too different across each platform. This approach wastes valuable time, requiring that you reinvent the wheel to reach viewers. Yet, it's also a mistake to simply post the same thing across multiple channels and platforms. Instead, take the content or idea and create slightly different versions tailored to each platform and particular audience. For example, while filming for a YouTube fashion haul that can be many minutes long, shoot shorter cuts that work for TikTok, Reels, or Triller. From that, pull stills and 15-second cuts for Instagram's feed and Stories.
- What can I launch offline to magnify my persona online? Building an online presence is about creating and nurturing a community. When brands and individuals develop real-life products or initiatives, they naturally attract more advocates to their community, thereby growing their online presence. As an example, our team at G&B recently released the Normalize Equality Initiative, a tangible guide to help influencers, brands, and agencies inspire audiences with a content approach that promotes inclusivity and diversity. This initiative allows us to fulfill our agency goals of educating and empowering people to create content that reflects equality, along with individuality. It also serves to communicate who we are, as a brand, to audiences and agencies - it's a real-world statement that "this is what we care about;" "this is the sort of inclusive, collaborative culture we hope to help create for our industry."
As we navigate this new online landscape together, we will inevitably encounter challenges, setbacks and mistakes. The point is not to achieve perfection but rather to make a meaningful effort and, when we fall down, to get back up and keep going. If we — as an industry, individual influencers, brands, and agencies — seek to continuously learn, grow, and respond to real-world changes, we can't help but make powerful progress with plenty of successes along the way.
Kyle Hjelmeseth is the founder and president of G&B talent management agency, a company rooted in a diversity of voices, colors, genders, ages and interest.
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