In the age of online influencers, coins and dollars can easily be traded for attention and trust. So can spa hotel packages, event tickets, extravagant outfits, and vacations. It’s hard to name an item that you wouldn’t be able to purchase with influence currency. Of course, if you have enough of it.
So what’s your account balance? How many people would pay attention to what you have to say? If you are starting as an entrepreneur, there’ll come a day you’d wish you started working for your influence currency sooner.
If you are already on an entrepreneurial path, here are a few low-investment high-payout ideas you can start practicing today:
1. Keep your accounts aligned
You likely have a few pieces of “online real estate” – a profile in one of the social networks, or maybe a few, maybe a website, definitely an email address. Note that for your business, you likely don’t need to be a part of every social media network. Each industry has 1 or 2 key channels where your target audience spends time.
While each social network carries its own style (#DollyPartonChallenge proved it once again), those accounts you keep to maintain must be aligned. Visitors need to see it’s the same person. If possible, avoid nicknames. If you use your first and second name, make sure usage is consistent across all platforms. Try to use recent pictures and stick to photos of you -not your pet.
The time it takes: 15 minutes. You just need to do it once.
2. Interact with people in your industry you don’t yet know
It’s about starting a conversation and about giving attention before you ask for attention. Follow a few hashtags related to your industry, subscribe to a few YouTube channels if you haven’t already. But when you are there, don’t just silently consume. Start interacting with those in your industry even if you don’t know them in person. Let them know when they’ve done a good job, ask questions. If you know something they haven’t mentioned, it’s a great place to share in a friendly manner.
It’s pretty much like making friends, but online. You say something nice and funny, they say something nice back and before you know it, you are already hanging out. No service selling likes, comments or engagement boosts would sell you that – real connection. Every brand starts with early adopters, and the best way to earn them is through personal interaction.
The time it takes: 5-10 min a day.
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people.” – Dale Carnegie
3. Start sharing about your entrepreneurial journey
It may seem that everybody under the sun is on social media and now it’s too late to start building a brand. In fact, research by Nielsen Norman group shows that dynamic between different social platforms is quite similar: there are 90 passive consumers to 10 contributors, only one of which is a heavy contributor.
I personally find this statistic quite inspiring. Most of the people you see on your social media feed daily represent just 1% of the network’s humongous database. Surely, there is a place for you too.
Another common objection has to do with the level of production complexity. Maybe you are not too comfortable in front of the camera? Maybe you don’t have pictures of yourself that look “good enough?” What objection are you placing in front of yourself?
Gary Vee who teaches “how to create 64 content pieces in a day” urges creators to avoid complicating the process. In a nutshell, it means that if you are thinking “I’ll start when so and so happens” you are overcomplicating it. Think of the easiest format for you. You may record a quick story at the end of a workday, use time in public transport to put your business learnings in writing every once in a while, write a medium post or go live on one of the platforms.
Find your format and stick with it. Later, you may add beautiful visuals, well-edited storylines or even a video production team. Right now, you are doing it to let those early adopters (see above) stay up-to-date with you and your business. They don’t need those updates to be perfect. They just need the information to be available.
The time it takes: from 30 seconds to 10 minutes
4. Practice giving when you don’t expect to get anything in return
What are the brands, events and people in your life that you absolutely love? I love sharing about a local charity in Bali that I got introduced to on my last visit. I love hearing and sharing about the projects my friends are doing, and yes, I’ve also tagged a certain ice-cream shop way more than once on my social media.
Sure, influencers are paid to review things and places and you might not be there yet. It does not mean you should avoid doing that until someone starts offering money for your opinion. Love something? Talk about it and tag them. It might be that place where you buy doughnuts in the morning or a great podcast you enjoy listening to. They may reciprocate, and if it’s a big brand you may get a boost.
One of my clients has an Instagram account which is about 100 times the size of mine. Every time my company delivers a great result for them, I share it on my Insta-story (see point 3). She never fails to share it back and apart from those extra views that come from her repost, I just get that warm fuzzy feeling inside.
However, don’t get discouraged if you don’t get a mention in return. Sharing what you love helps your followers see you as a well-rounded, real person. Remember, people connect with real people, not polished images.
The time it takes: from 30 seconds to 10 minutes.
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” – Winston S. Churchill
5. Make partnerships or join engagement groups
Most social networks seem to be going through similar growth curves. At first, there is a lot of organic engagement, new people are jumping in every day, those who “get it” quickly reach a large number of followers (currently Tik Tok is going through this stage). As the network matures, it introduces changes which make the organic reach more difficult, and eventually inviting users to pay for a chance to be seen by more followers. Instagram’s 2016 algorithm update is an example of such change when the chronological feed was replaced by the feed that favors posts with the highest engagement.
If you are on one of the older platforms, like Facebook, Youtube or Instagram, you might want to look into engagement pods. Usually, those look like group chats, where every participant informs others about a new post she made. Rules of those chats suggest that you will engage with posts made by others, and they will support your posts.
You can google “engagement groups” or “engagement pods” or just partner up with a few friends and agree to support each other. This little trick signals an algorithm to show your post to more people. I would advise choosing smaller groups (15-20 people maximum), otherwise, it might take a while to give proper attention to every participant.
The time it takes: about 5 minutes, depending on the number of participants in the group.