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How to be an influencer

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Aqeelah Harron-Ally gives advice on staying relevant and keeping abreast of digital trends under lockdown

WE ARE spending most of our time indoors, our social lives have grind to a halt and we can only dream about shopping sprees.

You might have noticed that social media platforms, especially Instagram, now feature more throwback images and silly challenges than ever before. People are starting to “recycle” content from shoots they’ve done in the past.

Instagrammers have had to get creative to keep their profiles active.

This is especially tricky for influencers who rely on social media platforms to generate income.

Content creator, digital entrepreneur and influencer Aqeelah Harron-Ally, who has 10 years’ experience as a top fashion, beauty and travel influencer, has launched her first e-book, titled Booked. Busy. Verified.

In her book, she covers everything from how to pitch to brands for paid collaborations, how to shoot better images and videos, how to be a better writer, how to adopt healthy mindsets for social media, and how to think, act and work like a business.

Harron-Ally shares a few tips and offers advice on how to become a successful influencer as well as the inspiration for her book.

What makes an influencer stand out from the crowd?

It’s not about having the best clothes or the fanciest equipment or about looking a certain way. It’s about creating quality content that either helps or entertains your audience, ie adds value. With brands; they’re more interested to know that you’re professional and have your digital brand together, than that you have a big following.

What’s the most important advice you can offer those wanting to become an influencer?

Ask yourself why you want to do it and how you want to affect the lives of your audience by adding value. You have to be incredibly honest here. Make it your mission statement, and return to that manifesto every time you’re in doubt or want to start a new chapter for your brand. It will keep you on track with your goals and your community.

What makes your brand unique?

I think it’s the fact that I can do and offer so much, in different mediums across varied platforms. I’m one of the few who still has a website with so many useful written articles, a YouTube channel, a high-quality Instagram account and an online store with digital products. I’m also booked as a model and events’ host at times. I share all of my secrets and methods to success, step by step; most people don’t.

How did you work your way up to becoming the successful influencer you are today?

Consistency, relatability, adding value to my audience with useful information and pushing for high-quality content has been key.

What inspired you to write this book?

I actually started doing blogging workshops years ago, and they always sold out and received great reviews. Then so many people wanted to know how to grow in the digital space and amplify it into a business. I also had a lot of new influencers or aspiring YouTubers etc messaging me for help.

The eBook was inspired by what people asked the most, and also by the mistakes I see even the biggest influencers making every day. I see so much potential in so many people online and in many young brands, but they don’t know how to harness the power of the digital world.

Taking into account our current situation, lockdown and social distancing, how can a person wanting to get into the business create content?

Ask yourself what do other people in lockdown want to see/read right now? Do they need movie recommendations? Tips to keep kids entertained? Recipes? Are they looking for funny videos? Start there and your audience will be happy.

Our lives and the economy are unlikely to “go back to normal” any time soon. How do you think it will affect using social media as a business platform? Has the pandemic had any effect on the business yet? If so, how?

It’s definitely had an effect in some areas. I’ve had an international work trip cancelled and other campaign work postponed. However, sales of my digital products have gone up and brands are getting creative in the way they relate to their audiences now that they can’t sell. You’re finding brands booking influencers to do IG live takeovers and sponsoring “Stay at Home” content. 

With the decrease in needs for certain products, we see a rise in others, for example personal care products and food.

It’s actually a great time to spend on sponsored posts now if your product is an essential item. Screen time has gone up and there has been roughly a 20% increase in engagement across all social media platforms.

With fashion, travel and non-essential items I think budgets will be low, but for brands to get back up on their feet marketing spend is still going to be important in order to stand out. That’s where content creators come in. Things will definitely be different and weird at first, but I think we will adapt.