Social media, as I have always said, is now a colossal part of everyday living in this modern day 21st century. Over 3 billion worldwide actively use social media daily. Locally we have almost 7 million active internet users & approximately 50% of them being active Facebook users. By the way, Facebook happens to be most commonly used social media platform in Zimbabwe. Locally there are quite a number of well-known people with huge social media followings. I will mention some them, take note though, I’m mentioning them on purpose because they are tied in to what I’ll discuss here in. Madam boss has over 153000 followers on Instagram & over 236000 page likes on Facebook. Acie Lumumba has over 27000 page likes on his The Lumumba Files page. Anyways, let’s look at some things:

Where The Money Comes From

Large social media followings now lure various types of brands in businesses. The key word is marketing; once someone has a huge following you become a target for brands looking to market their stuff. It’s called influencer marketing or social media influencing and I kid you not it has now become the in-thing. This entails a brand approaching or you approaching them and striking a contract where they pay you to tap into your social media influence by advertising for them.  This is the single most effective way of making money from your huge social media following.

Social Media Influencing Is Now King

Globally, at least 90% of marketing now done by brands is majorly focused on influencer marketing. It is actually postulated that the social media influencing type of marketing will be an at least US$10 billion industry by 2020. This means there is a lot of money lying in wait for people who can effectively leverage on their having social media influence. Around 4 years ago that industry was approximately half a billion in value – so it’s growing exponentially. A lot of brands are keen on paying big just to harness your huge influence on social media.

How Does It Work Then?

As I pointed our earlier, it’s either the brands approach you or vice versa. Let me point out that the term huge in “huge social media following” is quite relative. What do I mean? Anything upwards of 1000 followers can be considered huge depending on what various brands might be after. In fact some surveys have actually shown that followings in the range of 1000 to 100000 followers tend to result in more conversions. They say that such followings are characterised by tightly-knit homogenous groups which are easy to rally behind and support a brand recommended to them by their influencer. Anyways, I had to point that out for a reason since most people might shy away thinking they don’t have followings that constitute a “huge following”.

There are many ways in which the actual money-making framework is built. Some do sponsored promotions; this is whereby an influencer posts content on their social media platform advertising a brand. This means they get paid by the brand owners to do that – one can get paid even thousands of dollars just for a single post. The other way is brand ambassadorship; this is whereby the influencer is not paid post by post but rather enters an agreement where a fixed amount is paid either weekly, monthly etc. The agreement will be having term duration and in that period they will be using their social media platform and influence to advertise the brand.

Some Local Examples

Earlier on I mentioned Madam Boss & Acie Lumumba right. If you go on their platforms you’ll get a feel of how one can make money from a huge social media following. Madam Boss can do whole posts just advertising a brand (for instance, advertising NetOne packages). She is actually their brand ambassador but at times she can just advertise various types of other brands (not necessarily a paid brand ambassadorship). Acie on the other hand does things a bit differently; he produces on-demand content in the form of drive interviews with prominent people (The Lumumba Files Drive). He then incorporates snippets, during the videos, of brand adverts like for instance Nash Paints or Premier Auto (which he gets paid for). To date his most viewed video garnered more than 100 000 views.

From these examples you can actually get a clear picture of how you can make money from your social media following. You don’t have to necessarily copy the above models (which you still can), but don’t limit yourself – be creative and think outside the box.

Some Important Pointers

The Right Platform

Surveys that have been carried out have shown that at least 80% of social media influencers consider Instagram as the king platform of social media influencing. Locally though, it’s not necessarily the case since more people are active on Facebook. My point is that you have to be careful on which platform to use that will yield good results. The trick is to diversify (use several platforms) but with a bias towards one particular platform that is common i.e. Facebook in the local context.

Engagements Are The Holy Grail

Brands consider high engagements as the key KPI in measuring your social media influence. So it’s not just about having a huge following but more importantly it’s about having high levels of engagements with the followers. That is why boosting posts can’t be overemphasized as it increases your reach. Therefore brands basically look out for numbers & engagement levels.

In closing, you must carefully consider offers that come your way. Whatever the brand is it must align with your personal brand (remember you are a brand in that you have a huge following). The last thing you need is to have your following dwindling due to followers’ displeasure at brands you’re associating with. Last thing, have properly drafted & signed contracts, get fair money for your value – be vigilant!