10 Reasons Influencer Marketing Should Be Taught in Schools
Influencer marketing has taken the world by storm over the last decade with Internet personalities on YouTube rising to unprecedented heights that were previously reserved for clients of the William Morris Agency. Now anyone with talent and savvy marketing skills can amass a following and make a good living.
The bad news is that many students want to become influencers without truly understanding the work (and the opportunities) involved. In the following article, we make the case that it’s time for schools to do their part in showing the value of this career path, both on its own and in how it relates to other industries.
1. Influencer Marketing Requires Useful Technical Skills
It’s important to have a social media presence as an influencer. If you’re not on social media and interacting with your audience, then they’re going to think you’re not a real person or that you’re not accessible. If you’re not comfortable shooting video, find someone who is. While we’re still in the early days of video, it’s becoming more and more important.
If you’re comfortable shooting video, even if it’s just on your phone, it can be a great way to reach your audience. If you’re an influencer, you need to be well versed in technology. You shouldn’t only be able to describe the features of a product but be able to use the product yourself and be able to explain how it works.
2. It Requires Significant Soft Skills
Soft skills are things like communication, time management, and leadership skills. They’re the things that go beyond technical skills and have a lot to do with personal attributes. Soft skills are skills that are not related to your educational or professional background. Soft skills are skills that help you succeed personally and professionally. For example, communication skills, like being able to listen and communicate clearly, can be a big asset when it comes to networking.
The most important thing to remember when it comes to being an influencer is that you’re a real person. You’re not just a brand. You’re a real person that people can relate to. You can be funny, you can be silly and you can be your authentic self. Jumping in feet-first to influencer marketing will force you to hone those skills, and they will serve you well throughout life, even if you don’t make your living in the iMarketing space.
3. Influencer Marketing Engages Students
YouTube is one of the most popular social media platforms in the world and it’s a great place to find influencers. Some of the most popular YouTube influencers include beauty vloggers Tati Westbrook and James Charles, as well as vlogger and comedian Shane Dawson. Instagram is also a popular hub and TikTok has come on strong in the last two years.
People follow influencers, in part, because they want to emulate them. They are also inspired by them to some degree. Creating a class around influencer marketing means you’ll automatically engage your students in the source material. At first, it might not be for the best of reasons. Some of these people can do some pretty outrageous things to get noticed. (Looking at you, Paul Brothers.)
In time, however, students will be able to see the real work that goes on behind such massive followings. You won’t have to work hard to get their attention and steer them toward these conclusions from the outset.
4. And Grounds Them in Reality
Influencers have to start somewhere. Before they get to 1 million, 10 million, or 100 million followers, they have to start by finding those few people that are going to help them “go viral.” It’s seldom a rags-to-riches journey. It takes many weeks, months, or years, and, sometimes, many hundreds of pieces of content before more than a handful of followers notice.
As students dissect the rise of an influencer, they can see the hard work step-by-step. This helps them to set clear goals and objectives. It also helps them formulate action plans for accomplishing those goals and objectives.
5. Influencers Speak Their Language
The average age of influential people online, whether that’s bloggers, YouTubers, Instagrammers, or social media stars, is in the 20s and 30s. According to a study by Mediakix, the average age of an Instagram influencer is 26.8. Some with millions of followers are as young as 14 years old. These numbers are important because they show just why high school and college students connect so easily with these individuals.
They speak the same language. No, not English (though many do). We mean they share the same slang, the same pop culture references, the same rites of passage. Being able to show students how these young professionals are distinguishing themselves will give students templates for how to think outside the box, which can be hugely beneficial both now and in the future.
6. They Cause Students to Dream Bigger
Not every student has to be a YouTube personality with 100 million followers. That’s not the point of teaching influencer marketing in schools. The real point is to show these students how it’s possible, at a very early age, to find your passion and start building an action plan or strategy towards achieving it. If they see dreams through the eyes of people they can relate to, they’ll be more likely to forge their own.
7. Without Neglecting the Hard Work That Goes Along With It
So, how hard is it to start a YouTube channel? It’s not hard at all! You can easily set one up for free on YouTube and start uploading your video content. The key is to make sure you’re uploading regularly and that you have a plan for what you’re going to upload. When it comes to growing your audience, it’s important to remember that social media is all about being social.
You want to be engaging with people who are already talking about the topics you’re interested in, so start engaging with people by following them and replying to them. One of the biggest mistakes that people who are just starting out in social media make is to focus too much on trying to get people to like, share and comment on their posts.
We’ve shared these tidbits to point out that influencer marketing is really hard work. It takes talent. It takes an investment of time and a commitment to grinding when others are binge-watching HBO Max. This is a valuable lesson for students to learn, and it’s one we’re depriving them of every minute we act like the personalities and platforms they follow have no educational value.
8. Influencer Marketing Offers a Gateway Into Financial Literacy
Financial literacy is seldom taught with any organized pattern in schools. However, a class on influencer marketing would offer an accessible gathering point for initiating those discussions. By following the career paths of young influencers and their financial gains (and losses), you can engage students with some pretty healthy discussions about money. What it can do as well as its limitations, and how it will impact their lives as they get older!
9. All Skills Are Transferable
Transferable skills are skills that you can use in more than one industry. The more transferable your skills are, the more employable you’ll be. So if you’re looking to switch industries, you’ll be much better off if you have transferable skills. The best way to build transferable skills is to be a generalist.
Influencer marketing is a great way to teach you transferable skills. It’s a really fast-paced job so you’re constantly thinking on your feet and working with different people in different industries. You need to learn how to be flexible and adapt to the needs of different people. The skills needed to be a great influencer are the same as the skills needed for any other job: communication, marketing, sales, writing, and reading.
10. Influencer Marketing Causes More Students to Think About How They Brand Themselves
Students should stop thinking about themselves as job applicants. Instead, they should think about themselves as a brand. How they present that brand through their education and social media channels and real-world networks will ultimately determine their employ-ability. Influencers can show students how to craft their online and offline lives in a way that resonates with the people around them, regardless of whether they start their own commercial YouTube channel.
Influencer Marketing Is a Viable Career Path
Influencer marketing is here to stay, and it’s time for educators to start using them to connect with students on a deeper level. We think a curriculum that breaks down the benefits of influencer marketing is long past due. But what do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
[Featured Image by Pixabay]