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With 15 years experience in the media, and as a leading parent blogger, Sophia Walker of Milk Drunk Diary shares her thoughts on what it takes to be a Social Media Superstar…

I joined the world of journalism and marketing back in the noughties – a time when Nokia’s ruled the world and ‘texting’ was the hip cool thing, everyone read ‘Heat Magazine’ and ‘Friends Reunited’ was as close as we came to social networking.

Needless to say, the industry has massively evolved in this time.

It was probably circa 2008 when the world ‘new media’ started to become a buzzword. Until brands realised it wasn’t a fad and rebranded it to ‘social media’ – no longer was it ‘new’… it was established and here to stay.

Today social media is currency. If you’re young and savvy with an opinion and iPhone, you can set yourself up as a ‘Vlogger’, broadcasting everything from the interesting to the inane, to a global audience. If you’re a wordsmith and have some technical prowess, then you can become a blogger as I did. Or if you’re more of a visual type, then you can create quite a following sharing your gallery on Instagram or Pinterest. There’s an outlet for everyone, these are just some of them.

So why are brands turning to social stars, over traditional outlets? Well, it’s a simple answer – influence and reach.

Traditionally, newspapers were one of the preferred outlets for marketers to reach an audience, but newspapers are dying. The Guardian, for instance, might have a daily readership of roughly 145,000, but the Mail Online has 2.3 million daily unique users.

Zoella (@Zoella), can reach 7.3 million followers on Twitter –seven times more than The Times. While Perez Hilton – the original blogger, has nearly 2 million likes on his Facebook page alone.

Social media is the buzz word of the century, and we the people are the stars.

So how do you become a social media superstar? Easy, right? No, not quite.

Since anyone can set up as a blogger, vlogger or online influencer, competition is huge – success is not instant.

But look at some of the success stories and they have a common thread – they all have a passion for a niche, they deliver rich content, and they speak to their audience as ‘one of them’. And most important of all – they’ve worked hard to get where they are.

Joe Wicks, The Body Coach – Mr ‘Lean in 15’ has built an empire on simple to follow exercise routines and healthy meals. He’s relatable, consistent and a regular Joe… so to speak!

Zoella again, a normal girl, sharing her tips and speaking to her audience, in a very similar way that Tanya Burr did.

So these are the lessons we can learn…

1. Have a Passion

Whatever you decide to write, blog or talk about – make sure you love it. You don’t have to be the world’s no. 1 authority on it, but without a passion, no-one’s going to buy into you.

2. Be relatable

Put it this way, if you’re a rich kid of Instagram posting stories from your Fiat Punto – it ain’t gonna work! You need to be ‘one’ of your audience. Deliciously Ella embodies the person her followers want to be. She’s all about clean living, organic products and a healthier lifestyle – something she knows her readers value. She is true to herself, her followers feel like she’s their friend. And that’s when you’re on to a winner.

3. Know your niche

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about blogging, it’s about knowing your audience, and I’ve found that Twitter is the perfect place to chat to and find out more about them. If you don’t mind getting technical, then download the Yoast widget or Jetpack to your blog to start finding out more about your audience – do they prefer certain posts, where do they live, who are they? This will all help refine who you are talking to. Twitter Analytics is also another great tool in understanding when your audience best respond to communication and what posts have been most successful. Facebook and Instagram also offer such insight. My blog Milk Drunk Diary started out as a family website for parents of all ages, I soon realised that it was trying to cover too much ground. I went back to my roots and stuck to what I know –being a new parent, and focusing on first-time parents. It has served me well, carving out a niche for myself and my readers.

4. Stick at it

Unless you’re extremely lucky, you won’t become famous overnight. Competition is tough and it’s a test of attrition. But stick with it. If you can create and share content for the sheer love of it, then that should be motivation enough – anything else is a perk.

5. Engage with your audience

And finally. To be a social media star, you have to be accessible, available and a ‘friend’ to your audience. Respond to messages you receive on Twitter. Share other posts you get on Facebook. Do ‘Snapchat’ and Instagram Live so your audience can see your life behind the scenes. But remember that this dialogue is not just one-way. Ask your readers their thoughts, get them to be involved, run polls and giveaways. But above all, be yourself.

Guest post by:

Sophia has worked in the media for 15 years and is the founder and editor of leading parent blog Milk Drunk Diary, follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @MilkDrunkDiary

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