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How To Stand Out As An Influencer

Effective leadership today relies more than ever on influencing others — impacting their ideas, opinions and actions. But with the market so saturated with pretty people telling you what smoothie to drink, outfit to wear and app to download, being an influencer kinda got complicated.

So, where does that leave you? While there’s no “mould” to fit or “template” to fill in, remaining authentic is important. Tap into your unique selling point and you can set yourself apart from the crowd…

Yep – being precisely who you are, at your highest level, is your ticket to the things you want most in your life.

Jacaranda FM’s Elma Smit is the boss babe at the sports desk on Jacaranda FM’s Breakfast with Martin Bester, weekdays between 6 and 9 am. Elma will be releasing a book called “Become An Influencer” – on shelves this September! Here are her tips on how to use your authenticity to stand out as an influencer:

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I started out in community radio when I was still in high school (2004!)& radio has been an enduring passion ever since! That’s why I’m proud to be flying the flag for women in the Sports Presenter category of the @SARadioAwards this year – particularly since this is the first time I’ve entered! Thank you to @JacaBreakfast @jacarandafm for the opportunity to be part of a #winning team! Besides “Station of the Year”, Breakfast with @martin.bester scored 9 nominations, including “Best Breakfast Show”. @megsymitch got a nod for content producer of the year and the team earned loads of nominations for awesome events, promotions and community projects on Good Morning Angels as well. 💜 I’m particularly proud of one Good Morning Angels project I got to help set up with @PicotandMoss @TagHeuer @stefant15 @sarugbylegends @diannebroodryk in aid of the very promising young Nande Maduna from Kempton Park Hoër @kempies_kempies ! Congrats to our other Jacaranda teammates @alexjayza @rian.vanheerden @ncadaniels & @kenzymohapi on your nominations! And a very special congratulations to my fellow nominees in the sports category @skytshabalala @jeremyharris55 @ntsako_mkhari_ & @feinbergnick !

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1/ Give your followers your most precious commodity: your attention.

Imagine yourself walking past a bunch of people crowded around something on the pavement (especially if you don’t know what it is)… Chances are, you’ll crane your neck to get a glimpse or ask a bystander what’s going on.

This is no different from how social media works. Hashtags and trending topics work. But this is only half of the equation: it’s a transactional relationship that needs to start with you.

So pay attention – your followers will tell you what content they like. Give it to them, and keep the relationship humming along nicely.

2/ Banish algorithm anxiety

How? By setting a pace that you can sustain and serve wholeheartedly. “Decide which expectations you can keep meeting while being generous, honest and productive at the same time. Liesl Laurie is one example of an influencer who works on big campaigns regularly, but doesn’t prioritise social media every day,” says Elma.

Liesl often doesn’t post over a weekend or for a day or two. “I really only look at which day is best for me to post,” says Liesl.

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3/ The lightsaber of social media is the hashtag, but wield it responsibly.

When it comes to hashtags, many people achieve exactly the opposite of what they want. You can tell, just by looking at how they use them.

“Yes, the inclusion of hashtags will lead to more people who don’t already follow you seeing your posts. It could even deliver you some new followers, but if you’re just including irrelevant hashtags thinking it’ll be a shortcut to more followers, you’ll irritate those you already have and no new follower will gain value from what you’re putting out there,” says Elma.

As with anything on social media, if you’re unsure, stay out of it or educate yourself – quickly.  

4/ Note what works (and what doesn’t) on each platform

If you want to spread your influencer business across a variety of platforms, you need to be clear on the differences. Even when it’s the very same user that follows you on all platforms, know that people open different apps for different reasons. Make sure you’re packaging the kind of content they’ve come to each platform for.

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5/ Decide exactly how much you’re going to share with your followers.

Let’s say you run a travel-themed influencer account and you happen to get engaged somewhere special – a post sharing this detail will elicit more engagement. Win-win, yes?

Well, say you go through a low moment in life, like a divorce… If you’re sharing this stuff, you’ll need to be prepared for a fair whack of scrutiny, judgment and even criticism around how that shows up (or doesn’t) in your content.

“Not because there is an objectively right or wrong way of telling your story, but because you created the perception that your follower is welcome in your personal life,” says Elma.

“You should expect them to feel hurt when you shut that door in their face. Worse still, if you let people in – they might also criticise you for capitalising on something they find shameful,” she says.

Hurt followers tend to express this sentiment in a variety of ways, most of which won’t aid your healing or boost your influencer business. Just sayin’.

6/ Most importantly, figure out your “unique selling point

There is one simple departure point if you’re trying to figure out how to stand out in an increasingly competitive and crowded influencer market. What is at the crossroads of your offering, and how it makes people feel?

“Your content needs to consistently reinforce your ‘unique selling point’, also known as a ‘unique selling proposition’ or simply your USP,” says Elma. “This isn’t something influencers came up with or even something we can credit traditional media with. It’s basically a concept as old as commerce itself and it is equally useful across all entrepreneurial pursuits.” So use you. And soar!

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