Influencer - Critical summary review - Brittany Hennessy

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Influencer - critical summary review

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Marketing & Sales

This microbook is a summary/original review based on the book: Influencer: Building Your Personal Brand in the Age of Social Media

Available for: Read online, read in our mobile apps for iPhone/Android and send in PDF/EPUB/MOBI to Amazon Kindle.

ISBN: 0806538856

Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education

Critical summary review

Is being an influencer a real job? If you think it is not, it is probably because you believe that anyone can create hashtags and post pictures on social media. However, Brittany Hennessy, co-founder of the influencer education company ‘’Carbon August,’’ says it takes both science and art to become a full-time influencer. To break the common misconceptions about social media content creators, she reveals what it takes to succeed in the world of influencer marketing. So, get ready to learn how to create content, get a lot of followers, and keep them engaged. 

Who are influencers?

    Let’s start the whole story by defining what it means to be an influencer in today’s digital world. Hennessy says an influencer is a person who has power on digital channels. That means they have lots of followers who, as the name suggests, follow the influencer's recommendations on which products to buy. The influencer's ultimate goal is to attract businesses that would hire them to promote their brand online. Over time, with the rise of influencer marketing, the term gained a negative connotation, mostly because of the general misunderstanding of what influencer marketing is rather than its bad quality.

    As influencers necessarily have lots of followers, it happens that people confuse them with celebrities. For example, in one article, The New York Times referred to Kendall Jenner, Selena Gomez, and Gigi Hadid as influencers just because they have millions of followers. However, their jobs are, in Hennessy’s words, ‘’worlds away’’ from what influencers do. Celebrities become famous usually thanks to their talents, and people follow them because of their offline work. Influencers, however, create social media content (that is why they are also called content creators.) They take photos, make videos, and create posts. Their goal is to increase the audience and keep them engaged, and therefore, influencers (unlike celebrities,) need to know various marketing tactics. Hennessy writes, ‘’It pains me every time someone calls a celebrity an ‘influencer.’ Quite honestly, it shows a complete disregard for the very thing that makes a content creator an influencer.’’

    Now that we understand who influencers are, the next question to ask is: why would anyone want to become one? First, if you are an expert or have talents, you can promote your work among a high number of people. If you have your own business, social platforms help you advertise your products and services and acquire new customers. Nowadays, having an online presence has become an unavoidable part of any marketing plan. In fact, by creating online content, you might start making enough money to quit your regular job. 

Pick your name wisely

    The first step in becoming a content creator is choosing a name you will use on social platforms. Do not be impulsive and pick a name that you won’t regret in six months. It is good to make your name simple, and easy to remember. Drop numbers and leave underscores behind, and forget about this kind of spelling style: ‘’foreveerr.’’ 

Be consistent. If your website is, but your Instagram is @imaflyfashionistaaa, and your YouTube is @flyfashionista4lyfe_, audiences and brands alike won’t connect all your profiles. You can have a different name for your website, as long as your name is the same on all social platforms. 

Some influencers invent brands with their names like Heidi Nazarudin (@theambitionista) and Charlotte Groeneveld (@thefashionguitar.) Good examples of mashup names are @thriftsandthreads (Brittany Xavier) and @lipstickncurls (Jade Kendle.) You can include your real name, like Jessica Franklin (@heygorjess) and Alyssa Bossio (@effortlyss), or keep it simple like Iskra Lawrence (@iskra) and Rachel Martino (@rachmartino). 

Once you find your name, you should create profiles on social media platforms. Do you really need to be active on each one? No, but it is necessary to be present on the ‘’big four:’’ Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, because most influencer marketing campaigns take place on them. Even if you are not active on other platforms, secure your preferred username by keeping profiles on them. You may wonder why you need Facebook and Twitter. Brands usually share content on Facebook and Twitter, and if they cannot tag you, you lose an opportunity to gain new followers. 

    Next, create your blog - it is easy to set up and maintain. A blog is a great place to tell your own story and review products or services. Think about how often you read reviews on people’s blogs. Finally, your profiles on social media platforms can be deleted at any time without warning. This can never happen with a blog, because you have full control over it.

YouTube and Instagram - content creation guidelines 

    Once you come up with the name you will use on social media sites, it is time to start creating content. If you want to become a successful content creator, you should learn how to be ‘’great both in front of the camera and behind the keyboard,’’ says Hennessy. To be good at vlogging, you should master these techniques of video making: 

  1. Intro/Catchphrase. Your videos should always have an intro - it is usually theme music followed by “Hey guys, welcome to my channel.” Hennessy says intros set the tone for your channel and tell brands if your aesthetic and tone are in line with theirs. Keep the intro and catchphrase simple, chic, and brand-friendly.
  2. Thumbnails. When creating thumbnails, follow the same guidelines as in the case of intro and catchphrase. If you decide to put text on thumbnails, keep it minimal and easy to read.
  3. Trailer. This is the most important part of your YouTube channel. Use your trailer to convince viewers to subscribe and tell brands why they should hire you. Always remember to update your trailer - Hennessy says it is best if you do it quarterly. When making a trailer and other videos, look into the camera and speak directly to the viewer.

Most of the social-branded content takes place on Instagram: it is the ‘’Coca-Cola of influencer marketing,’’ says Hennessy. Here are some things to keep in mind when planning and organizing your Instagram feed (you can apply these concepts to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat, as well):

  1. Profile picture. This is not a place for your logo, #OOTD, or some random object. It should be a well-lit photo showing you from the shoulders up and smiling (with or without teeth.)
  2. Bios. Your biography on Instagram should follow this form: “Creator of XYZ, a beauty and style site. NYC-BASED influencer. [email protected].” Next to this, add your real name and blog/vlog or latest post in the link section.
  3. Tags. Use tags to mention brands that sponsor you, and be careful not to favor any particular brand. For example, you should never post a photo of ABC mascara saying it is the best mascara ever created because other brands might find themselves offended if you do not think their mascara is the best. 

Building your community

    Brands spend millions of dollars each year on advertisements that people predominantly block or overlook. For this reason, brands hire influencers to gain access to their audience who trust and listen to what the influencers say. Therefore, having a high number of followers is necessary for outstanding influencer marketing. Even if you create quality content, it is not valuable from an advertiser’s point of view if you do not have a significant number of followers who enjoy it. 

    For now, do not compare yourself with influencers with 500,000 or more followers. To become a full-time influencer, even a little over 100,000 should suffice. Here are some tactics to follow on your road to 100,000 followers on Instagram. 

  • Stage 0: Zero to 2,499 followers. At this stage, you will decide whether you have what it takes to be an influencer, including a commitment to create content regularly. Tell everyone you know - friends, family, co-workers - to start following you. Find internet communities you can join to increase the number of followers and get feedback on your content.
  • Stage 1: 2,500 to 4,999 followers. Time for using hashtags. Do not exaggerate, however - five to seven hashtags per post will do the job.
  • Stage 2: 5,000 to 9,999 followers. Start following people who create similar content, but have fewer followers than you and are likely to follow you back. Also, add a few people from Stage 3 to your network.
  • Stage 3. 10,000 to 24,999 followers. Nice work! The follower count of this range makes you a ‘’micro-influencer!’’ Keep up the good work - join communities, use hashtags, like, follow influencers smaller than you, and  add a few from Stage 4.
  • Stage 4: 25,000 to 49,999 followers. At this stage, you should find other influencers whose work you admire to collaborate with. It will introduce you to new audiences and help you gain more followers. An influencer icon Tania Sarin says connecting with other bloggers is necessary for aspiring content creators. ‘’Team up, and take over the world together.’’
  • Stage 5: 50,000 to 100,000 followers. Now you are ready to start contacting brands for campaigns. You can start with those that sell online only or don’t have hundreds of stores and need influencers to create content for them to post. 

Future goals

    In the influencer industry, Hennessy says you should always look for ways to get repeat business, secure long-term campaigns and ambassadorships. Ultimately, your goal should be to start your own business.

When working with influencers, Hennessy says she is satisfied when they do the required minimum: answer emails relatively quickly, create decent content on time, and are cooperative on a photoshoot. However, the influencers she books repeatedly are those that are ready to make an extra effort. For example, one of them sent Hennessy a letter to thank her for their collaboration. This gesture made Hennessy’s day and helped her decide who she would book for the next campaign. She says, ‘’If all other things are equal, I am pushing for the influencer who sent the thank-you note each and every time.’’

If one thank-you note increases your chances of getting hired, imagine the benefits you get when you provide advertisers with additional content they did not pay for. What does it mean to go the extra mile in this case? Hennessy says she will never forget when Sai De Silva (@scoutthecity) sent her a document called ‘’mood board’’ which showed her vision of the photo shoot. When the client saw Silva’s mood board they were amazed and immediately booked her for a future campaign. Therefore, think about your shooting beforehand. Brainstorm ideas for hair, makeup, clothing, location, and let your clients know about them.

    How about long-term partnerships? When is the best time to talk to an advertiser about it? The answer is - not long after your last campaign. Before giving them a proposal, explore the advertiser’s recent work and think about how you can contribute to their future projects. Provide them with details such as the number of blog/vlog or Instagram content pieces you would post if you make a deal. Let them know why they should hire you again. ‘’Give them everything but the price,’’ Hennessy advises. 

Final Notes

    Nowadays, the online community is so big that even high-quality content can pass unnoticed by the majority. To make your content stand out, gain influence over the audience, and attract brands, follow the tips Hennessy lays out in ‘’Influencer.’’

    Top fashion influencer Iskra Lawrence says anyone interested in online life should read this book. She writes, ‘’Sit down, and take notes because you're going to want to hear what Brittany has to say.’’ 

12min Tip

    Begin your influencer career by learning to use WordPress. It is the most popular platform for creating blogs.

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Who wrote the book?

Brittany Hennessy started her career as a nightlife blogger. Thanks to her knowledge of social media marketing, she later became a senior director of influencer strategy and talent partnerships at Hearst Magazines Digital Media and then associate director of social strategy & influence at Hor... (Read more)

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