It's 2 p.m., and there is a momentary break in the light rain that has been persistent throughout the day. I'm overlooking the world's busiest intersection--Shibuya crossing, Tokyo--where three million people cross the street hourly in a mad scramble to get from one side to the other. Below me, I see camera crews placed among the square, filming the chaos for their various outlets.
As the light changes, a man rushes out into the center of the street and does some impromptu acrobatics before the crowd envelops him. A quick scan, and I locate the inevitable camera filming him, too. No one seems bothered by his antics--perhaps because others have also stopped in the middle of the street, filming themselves at the famous landmark. When the light changes again, the acrobat runs out again, repeating his maneuver. He'll continue doing this until he gets the perfect "candid" shot.
This type of interaction is commonplace now, as we've entered the age of the microinfluencer. Rather than spending large amounts on ad campaigns to build their brands' following, companies can find content creators around the world--with high-quality cameras--who have their own. Using sites like Tribe, Hype, and Unboxed, you can find people willing to create the right post for you at any budget.
And with increased choices in social networks, want-to-be PewDiePies--the most-subscribed and highest-earning YouTuber of all-time--can take their pick of platform and niche and start creating the content needed to build their own followings, lured by the idea of instant fame and fortune.
Or, that's how it is supposed to work.
Unfortunately, for the majority of people, they're in for disappointment. 96.5 percent of all YouTubers make less than $13,000 a year from their channel--even those who have over 1 million views per month. As an individual brand, unless you're dedicated full-time to a content strategy, you don't have any hope of making any real impact.
It's similar for other platforms--on Instagram, for example, people who manage the gargantuan feat of 100,000 followers can charge aligned brands up to $1,000 per post. On Twitch, you can charge subscription fees for your channel once you've reached 50 followers--although only 1 percent of Twitch streamers have achieved partner status to make any significant amount.
This means that for companies just starting out in their marketing strategy, there's almost no point attempting to build a following on your own channel--no one will see it. Instead, focus your budget and effort on someone who has made this their full-time job.
As a brand or influencer, here's how you ensure that you're getting the most out of your social strategy.
1. Be Valuable
To ensure you'll provide enough value for other people to spend their time with you, you need to have something to say that people can't get anywhere else--which means that you need to find something that only you can provide.
Focus on the things that come easily to you that other people find difficult, and then create content around that. For example, if you're an excellent programmer, create a Twitch channel for live coding that has dedicated times for people to tune in and learn how to code with you.
2. Be Consistent
While you're building a following, you need to provide people with enough content to keep them interested and engaged. The easiest way to do this is to keep to a posting calendar, with certain types of posts always on specific days and/or times.
This is especially important on platforms like Instagram and Facebook, where the initial post engagement helps boost your all-time views.
3. Be Patient
As mentioned above, it takes a lot of viewers and content before you can start to expect to earn any real income or conversions. PewDiePie took years before he was earning a significant income. Gary Vaynerchuck spent years building content before he expanded his empire. Ninja is the top earner on the new-ish platform Twitch, and he's earned a reportedly $500,000--but no one else has come close.
There is definitely money to be made in the realm of the influencer.
However, if your business plan is just "Become a YouTube Star," I suggest you start working on your resume.