So You Want to Be an Influencer

So You Want to be an influencer
Providing my insights at the Next Big Thing conference.

The first-ever Next Big Thing conference has wrapped up and it was an amazing day of inspiration, creativity and motivation. I had a great day learning from some of my local faves like Lisa and Ian Davies of the Uncommons, designer Lauren Popadiuk, photograher Lori Andrews and more.

I sat on a panel called “So You Want to be an Influencer” to talk about my tips for, well, being an influencer. It was a short 30 minute session which flew by so quickly. I got great feedback from attendees about what we shared such as not buying followers, engaging in real conversation with your followers and putting yourself out there. However, we couldn’t delve too deep in such a short session so I want to give you guys some further insights of what it means to be an influencer.

I want to be an influencer when I grow up!

First off, don’t start a blog or social platform with the sole intention of being an “influencer.” Do it for you! Fellow panelist Christopher Amat does just that sharing his photography on Instagram mainly for his own interests. It may seem selfish but it’s better to share what you are interested in rather than what you think followers may be interested in. Just be you!

Be patient

I have been blogging since 2009 and my influence has been years in the making. While it may seem like people become overnight social media sensations, the truth is that it takes time to build creditability and trust with a following. And I’m talking about real followers, not robots or bought accounts. It takes a lot of time and effort to accrue a following that will want to listen to you. Anything worth having takes effort and that goes for social media too.

Find your social media life balance

Having been in the social media game for a long time now, it’s all about finding the right balance between work, life, friendships, family and more. Unlike some of my fellow panelists, I work a traditional 9-5 office job doing marketing and communications. For me, there’s a natural synergy with social media so I find it’s easy to consider my social media flare as part of building skills for my communications career and vice versa. At one point in my life, I had considered quitting my day job to fully pursue a blogger career. But ultimately, it wasn’t the right fit for me. I have a truly fulfilling job that helps me pay the bills and I’m also able to continue blogging as a side hustle for personal creativity. Being an influencer helps me network, make relationships and contacts, build experience and skills that make me better at my job and gives me personal satisfaction as well. For me, being a full-time “influencer” felt like work to me and I didn’t like that. So I’ve found a balance that has been working pretty well for me for the last year. What works for me may not work for others so it’s all a matter of figuring out what is winning combination for you.

It’s all about quality over quantity

I mentioned this on stage, but I felt quite intimidated sitting on a panel with Christopher Amat, Haley Salomons and Paul Conrad Schneider. These three IG’ers have followings that are insanely huge compared to mine. Prior to the panel, I was sitting at just under 900 followers (thanks to everyone who has helped prop me up to over 900 now) which is kind of peanuts in the IG world. But it honestly is all about quality over quantity. It’s better to have a smaller engaged following that knows you, understands you and truly wants to follow you. So while I have a smaller number of followers, I still have a highly engaged ratio of followings on both my Twitter and Instagram. Because of this I am still able to work with brands, local businesses and other social media users to build and share influence.

What am I influencing exactly?

This was a great question that attendee @bob_mcinnis asked me after the panel. We talked a lot about how to influence, but what are we influencing and why are we doing this? For me, I am a born-and-raised Calgarian who has always been a big advocate for my city. Sharing local interests and opportunities was a natural fit for my blog and social media posts. When my popularity grew to the point where I had people listening to me, I wanted to use my online streams as a way to showcase the best that Calgary has to offer and support local businesses and entrepreneurs. However, I like to do this by incorporating in the experiences, products and real things that I like and enjoy in my own life and then documenting on my various platforms. I hope to be able to use my influence to promote some of my personal motivation with professional motivation especially for female readers. I want to show and enable social good to encourage people to be the best person they can be. I want followers to enjoy the city that they live in as much as I do.


Have more questions about building your influencer status? Post a comment below or send me a tweet or IG at @heyseto.


Irene Seto is a Calgary lifestyle influencer supporting local from all angles.

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