So a week has passed since I made the decision to become on online influencer and signed up for Tomoson.  Aside from learning that people who do online reviews to get free stuff are called “online influencers” and not “reviewers who want free stuff”, here are the three biggest lessons I have learned so far:

  1. You can’t influence if you don’t have an audience, and to gain an audience you need several social media channels.
  2. There are several ways of building up your social media channels, and the low-hanging fruits are Twitter and Instagram
  3. You might have to “pay to play” in the beginning if you want to get any offers from Tomoson

Gaining an audience

No one is going to give you any “offers” for free stuff if you have zero influence, and the way you prove that you have influence is by having followers on social media.  The media channels that probably matter most by way of influence are a blog and YouTube because those are the channels that enable bona fide reviews.

However, gaining blog and YouTube subscribers is no easy proposition, and it takes time and quality content.  So doing that first isn’t likely your best option.

Facebook is the most popular social media channel and you likely already have several hundred followers.  The problem—if you are like me—is that you don’t want to spam your families and friends with product promotions.  One way to utilize Facebook without bothering your loved ones is to see up a Facebook page specifically for your reviews.

I did this by creating the page  The only problem with going this route is the same issue you have with gaining a blog and YouTube following—it doesn’t happen automatically or easily.  Getting others to “like” your Facebook page takes some work (and is a topic for another day).  So that leaves the low-hanging fruit…

Getting Followers on Twitter and Instagram

I believe the two social media platforms that have the easiest road to quickly gaining an audience are Twitter and Instagram.   There are basically three kinds of followers you can acquire on these two platforms, and the type of follower corresponds with the amount of work needed to get them.

  1. Quality followers. These are people who follow you because they are legitimate fans or friends who want to engage with you because you provide some value to them.  In the influencing world these are followers who want to read your reviews because they are potential customers for the products.  Obviously the acquisition of such followers only comes after you’ve established that you can bring the goods… so it’s not really an option in the beginning.  The good news is that “if you build it they will come.”  So eventually, if you do good reviews and post good content on your blog, these quality followers will find you.
  2. Quick and Dirty. This is the road I chose for week one.  The easiest followers to acquire in Twitter and Instagram are those that “follow back.”  So you simply search for accounts with some of the following keywords: Follow Back, 100% follow back, Follow4Follow.  Then, from those accounts look for people who actually follow back (have roughly the same number of followers as people they are following).  Once you’ve identified those simply follow everyone they are following.  I walk you through this in the video below (forgive the poor quality… this is my first video on this channel).

  1. Scams and paying for followers. Of course if you google “how to get 10k followers on Twitter” you’ll be redirected to all sorts of miracle programs that can do this for you instantly.  Don’t waste your time with these.  If they promise to do it for “free” then they will likely require you complete a survey.  That survey will likely require you to divulge a lot of personal information, purchase some sort of product, get on dozens of mailing lists, or all of the above.  There’s also a decent chance you’ll click on something that will give you a computer virus.  Just don’t go to these sites—it’s not worth the risk.  There are sites where you can pay for subscribers.

The subscribers you might gain by paying will likely be similar to the quick and dirty ones described earlier.  And this might work, but I’ll never know because I’m not willing to pay for crappy subscribers.  Just put in a couple hours on option #2 and you should be fine.

Applying for “Deals” instead of “Freebies”

Finally, I have no empirical proof for this but my experience (all one week of it) is that no one will give you a free offer if you have little to no following, especially in the channels that matter (blog and YouTube).  You need a track record, so apply for some of the deals.  That means you’ll need to fork over a little dough early on so that you have something to review.  In my first week I probably applied for 100+ from three of the categories of campaigns available (easy approvals, freebies, deals) and twenty or so in the paid category.

In my first week as an influencer I got three offers, all from the “Deals” category.  The good news is that these are good products and they cost very little ($8.40 for an activity tracker, 80 cents for an insect repellant thing, and 60 cents for some sweet ski goggles).  So I’m spending under ten dollars to get my first three reviews (all of which should get posted next week).  Not too bad for one week, no following, and no experience.

What about you?  Has your experience with Tomoson been different?  Do you have any strategies for gaining a quick following in social media?  Please comment in the comment section below.  And if you found this blog post to be helpful please sign up for the Reviews of Cool Stuff Newsletter (below), like the Facebook page, and/or follow me on Twitter or Instagram (you’ll be a “quality” follower).