While we talk about many different online marketing types on the Influencer Marketing Hub, the site's core is influencer marketing, as its name suggests. That does bring up the issue of when you can consider yourself an influencer. One factor is the number of followers or subscribers you have to your account – although we stress that many other factors make somebody an influencer.
Although typical follower or subscriber numbers differ by the social network, there are still approximate milestone figures that indicate that you have reached a level of success. However, we do stress the importance of only having genuine followers/subscribers. We have previously written about Why Buying Instagram Followers is a Really Bad Idea, and the same argument applies to all the other social networks.
Building your follower or subscriber numbers (genuinely) is a real achievement. It is a sign that you have some skill, popularity, and the ability to generate an audience of people who find your content interesting, informative, or entertaining. It is also an indication that you are doing things right and should continue to produce content in the way you are currently doing. If you struggle to build up a follower base, perhaps you need to reexamine your social media approach, read through more articles on this site, and change your content and its promotion accordingly.
Social Media Followers Badge (FREE Tool for Social Media Influencers):
Our Social Media Followers Badge Generator
Do you think you are performing well on TikTok, Instagram, or YouTube? We now have a tool that will generate a social media achievement badge that you can use to prove to your friends, followers, subscribers, or indeed anybody you want your success.
While these numbers are sometimes called vanity stats, why worry? Take any credit where it is due. Also, high follower/subscriber numbers unlock particular milestones on some of these networks, so it makes sense to emphasize your success when you have it.
Why Does Social Media Success Matter?
The answer to this question depends on whether you are running an individual or business account. Businesses run social accounts for totally different reasons than everyday people do.
Suppose you (as a person) don't have a social account nowadays. In that case, many people consider you an old "fuddy duddy" – someone who is "fussy while old-fashioned, traditionalist, conformist, or conservative, sometimes almost to the point of eccentricity or geekiness" according to Wikipedia.
Even many older people have ventured onto social media, Facebook in particular, initially to contact their grandchildren and then for genuine social reasons. Similarly, YouTube appeals to a wide variety of people who enjoy watching videos, perhaps of special events, or topics that particularly interest them. Sometimes the most unlikely people watch YouTube. For example, keen fishermen may watch YouTube videos to learn new casting techniques. Even hunters and trampers, lovers of the "great outdoors," watch YouTube to find new places to visit.
Social media offers a way to network with people anywhere and develop a presence. It has also provided opportunities to catch up with people you might have lost contact with in the past, for example, old school friends.
It's important to remember the full title – "social media network." All these help you network with people somehow, even if you live thousands or even millions of miles away from them.
Each of the social networks has developed a point of difference from its competitors. The three we cover with our tool are all visual in some way. TikTok specializes in short videos, YouTube in longer videos, and Instagram photography and other images. Sure, they overlap to an extent, but each has devoted most of their development budgets to improving their core capabilities. Other social networks also specialize, e.g., Facebook focuses on mixing text and images, Twitter concentrates on short, pithy thoughts, and LinkedIn has a strong business bias. In many of these networks, you can join groups or conversations on specific topics that interest you, contributing as you see fit.
Social media success is different for business, however. Many firms now recognize the amount of time their potential customers spend on social media. And it makes sense that they spend their marketing budget where their customers are. It can also be easier to monitor success with much social media marketing compared with more traditional methods. In many cases, businesses can use social media in two ways. They can make posts, just like any other user (or pay influencers to do so if preferred). Alternatively, they can advertise on most social networks, and in the process, be highly selective about who they want to see their ads.
Even if you can't sell your product directly on social media, it gives you an immense opportunity to create brand awareness and possibly drive traffic back to your company's site.
Signs of Success on TikTok
It's vital to remember that follower numbers alone are not the essential indication of your success and visibility on the platform. Later has looked in detail at how the TikTok algorithm works. Ideally, you want your videos to appear on as many people's For You pages as possible.
TikTok has announced the following factors affect their choice of videos for "For You" pages:
- User interactions, e.g., videos people like and share, accounts they follow, the content they post, comments they make
- Video information, e.g., details like captions, sounds, and hashtags
- Device and account settings, e.g., language preferences, countries, and device types
This means that every user faces a different combination of videos in their "For You" feed.
Follower numbers are not one of TikTok's factors for choosing "For You" videos. They genuinely try to find videos that will interest each individual user.
However, if you have more followers, you're likely to receive more views for your videos. Not because they appear in more people's "For You" feeds, but simply because they obviously appear in more people's "Following" feeds.
And, despite follower numbers not having a significant impact on TikTok's algorithm, marketers still look closely at them. You are far more likely to earn a living as a TikTok influencer with 100,000 followers than you would be with 10,000 followers.
Signs of Success on Instagram
As with all of these platforms, you need engaged followers to be successful on Instagram. Fake followers are of no value to you whatsoever. As with TikTok, Instagram's algorithm easily finds and weeds out fake accounts and bots. Therefore, you need to work on engaging with the followers that you do have. This will, in turn, likely lead to you gaining more followers. In turn, the more followers you have, the greater the opportunities you have to engage with them.
Instagram is one of those networks that benefit from specialization. Decide on a niche and stick to sharing images relating to it. In turn, engage with other accounts in your topic. You will never gain huge genuine follower numbers and taste success as a generalist on Instagram. Create and share (or pay influencers to share) the types of content your followers want.
One essential thing you will have to do if you want to succeed on Instagram is to change from a Personal account to either a Business or Creator account. For a start, you need to do this to give you access to Instagram Insights – analytics for your Instagram account that breakdown your performance.
One important follower number statistic relates to Instagram Stories. You need at least 10,000 followers to add links to your Instagram Stories with an Instagram Business profile.
Instagram also initially required you to have 10,000 followers if you wanted a Creator profile, although they appear to have relaxed that rule recently. Creator accounts give even more detailed analytics than Business accounts.
Instagram describes Creator accounts as being more suitable for public figures, content producers, artists, and influencers. They describe Business accounts as being suited to retailers, local businesses, brands, organizations, and service providers.
Signs of Success on YouTube
YouTube operates differently from most of the other social networks. You create channels – just like an on-demand television channel. People who particularly like a YouTube channel want to see future videos shared on it and subscribe to that channel.
Nowadays, YouTube doesn't publicly disclose exact subscriber numbers. For example, while it shows each new subscriber, if you have fewer than 1,000 subscribers, you have to gain ten new subscribers for it to display for channels with between 1,000 and 9,999 subscribers. This pattern continues as your channels grow, maxing out at showing only 1,000,000 increases to accounts with more than 100,000,000 or more subscribers.
Like Instagram and TikTok, YouTube removes closed or spam accounts from their statistics, including those accounts terminated for breaking YouTube's rules.
To officially earn money on YouTube, you need the network to accept you into the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). It gives creators greater access to YouTube resources and features. To be eligible to join the YPP, you need to meet the following criteria:
- Follow all the YouTube monetization policies
- Live in a country or region where the YouTube Partner Program is available.
- Have more than 4,000 valid public watch hours in the last 12 months.
- Have more than 1,000 subscribers.
- Have a linked AdSense account.
Requirement 4 is essential here – you need to obtain 1,000 followers before you can even consider monetizing your channel. YouTube says the watch hour and subscriber number requirements are there to give context. When you reach this threshold, it usually means that you have more content. The threshold helps them make a more informed decision about whether your channel meets their policies and guidelines. YouTube reserves the right to remove monetization from inactive channels, not uploading or posting Community posts for six months or more.
What Makes You an Influencer?
One of our earliest posts (which we regularly update) is What is an Influencer? While this is generic and not specific to any particular social network, it gives a good guide to the different types of influencers you will find.
One way to measure influence is by follower size. Unfortunately, there are no official standards for follower numbers, so you may come across different definitions elsewhere. Also, although we use the term "followers," here, some platforms, like YouTube, use other names, like "subscribers."
From largest to smallest, the main types of influencers are:
- Mega-Influencers - people with a vast number of followers on their social networks, often with more than 1 million followers on at least one social platform.
- Macro-Influencers - people with followers in the range between 40,000 and 1 million followers on a social network
- Micro-Influencers - ordinary everyday people who have become known for their knowledge about some specialist niche. Although views differ, micro-influencers tend to have between 1,000 and 40,000 followers on a single social platform.
- Nano-Influencers - These people have a small number of followers but tend to be experts in an obscure or highly specialized field. They have fewer than 1,000 followers who are keen and interested followers on a niche topic.
If you wish to become an influencer on TikTok, Instagram, or YouTube, you should make reaching the above numbers a goal.