When Alyssa Bossio graduated from Binghamton University, she moved to Manhattan to launch a social-media career. Yet instead of pursuing a traditional job, she worked at developing her lifestyle brand Instagram account, @Effortlyss, which currently has 1.3 million followers.
“I started building my brand six years ago when Instagram wasn’t very popular yet,” the 24-year-old Chelsea resident says.
During her senior year, Bossio began earning $20 a post from sponsored content. “I realized this could actually be something.”
Turns out, she was right. These social-media mavens, known as “influencers,” are changing the game in marketing practices.
Jason Shuman, chief of staff for Julius, an influencer-marketing platform based in the Flatiron District, explains that “a social-media influencer is someone who has established credibility and a following in a specific industry and uses social media to persuade others through their authenticity and reach to a large audience.”
That said, the career path is still in its infancy.
“We are very much at the first inning of a nine-inning game,” says Shuman. “Mobile-phone cameras are improving, social-media sites are getting more addictive and brands are recognizing that influencer marketing is going to continue to play an integral role in their strategies.”
Bossio partners with brands like American Express, Macy’s and Bose, posting lifestyle and travel photos to “inspire people to pursue their passion.”
Inspiration gets bank: Top influencers with more than a million followers can charge between $3,000 to $30,000 per post, she says. Additional income streams include commission from affiliate links, selling products and offering e-courses
DUMBO-based Sai De Silva started blogging three years ago at ScoutTheCity.com (her Instagram handle is @scoutfashion), distinguishing her brand.
“I blog about a fashionable family journey [with her young daughter London Scout], which sets us apart from everyone else,” she says.
Previously, De Silva sold jewelry online and blogged for nine months before pursuing it full-time. She says it’s a lot of hard work and recommends keeping your day job in the beginning.
“I work 10 to 12 hours a day, even on weekends. Sometimes you won’t see a dime for years, especially the first year. You have to pay your dues, establish yourself and build your brand.”
Essentially, commanding influence becomes a round-the-clock gig. Shuman says, “You need to walk the walk on a topic — as well as talk the talk — every day and practically at every moment. It is more than just a job. It’s an extension of your lifestyle. Influencers are always ‘on’; there is no distinction between work life and personal life — and that is the point.”
The business aspect also includes negotiating deals and signing contracts, potentially working with an agent, and even using “squad goals” — sharing the aspirational goals of you and your friends — to drive traffic.
“I socialized with other followers and bloggers,” says De Silva. “We teamed up to leverage one another’s followers.”
Then in 2015 her blog went viral. “We had a lot of interest from brands. I decided to give it a shot.”
Gennaro Pecchia, co-founder of MenWhoDine.com, got a boost when Lady Gaga retweeted his coverage from the opening of her parents’ restaurant, Joanne Trattoria, on the Upper West Side.
“That really exploded,” he says. “We got so many followers, they started calling us ‘Men Who Dine Monsters’! That spurred into different things, and we got a lot more invites. We didn’t have to sneak in.”
The foodie from Fort Lee, NJ, works as an arts administrator by day and also moonlights as a brand ambassador for chef Angelo Sosa’s AOSbySOSA aprons.
“It’s not just about food porn,” says Pecchia. “Our thing is more about educating the public on where to go that’s good, whether it’s cooking school or a place to visit on vacation.”
Gail Z. Martin, author of “The Essential Social Media Marketing Handbook” (Career Press, out now), says these influencers are making the right moves by posting regularly, authentically and interacting pleasantly with followers.
She explains, “Your brand is what makes you memorable to other people, the piece of mental ‘real estate’ in their memory. Building true status takes time and hard work.”
Adds Shuman, “Whatever your strength, do that passionately and constantly. Own a space and commit to it. Don’t feel the need to be perfect and polished. In fact, people prefer selfies.”