Akash Mehta, Digital Project Manager in charge of Earned Media worldwide for Christian Dior, tells us how he balances his high powered, full time job with being an influencer - and why he won't give one up for the other.
The word influencer is a relatively new term, but in the last year or so, influencers have taken the digital landscape by storm. Companies are beginning to realise the true power of social media ‘celebrities’, and are therefore setting more and more budget aside solely for influencer marketing. But their influence is multi-faceted; companies are looking to hire these influencers not just for advertising reasons, but also to help the business better understand the digital world.
'Top' influencers, considered the true celebrities of social media, usually have over a million followers -
whereas mid tail influencers are the ‘rising stars’. Mid tail influencers are not only usually more informed of trends than ‘celebrity’ influencers, they are also more accessible to brands. Micro influencers, at the bottom of the ladder, have a relatively low reach but highly engaged audience. They may have fewer followers, but micro-influencers have cultivated a level of trust with their community and tend to invest a higher level of passion and creativity in their content.
Personally, I would classify myself as a mid tail influencer as I have just around 300,000 followers on my Instagram @mehta_a. My speciality would definitely be travel, but I do enjoy sharing the odd fashion, food and fitness post. However, despite my relatively large following, I’ve never dedicated any time solely to my social media. Business has always been the greatest passion of mine and my social media success was a happy accident. My music career in 2012 trickled down to my Instagram, the following from which continued to grow when I decided to blog. Lots of mini-coincidences have given me my following, and whilst I’m grateful for these experiences, I’d never make being an influencer my full time job.
Earning a lot of money and travelling around the world for free would seem like a no brainer. And whilst this may be true for others; I’ve always wanted to stay true to myself. Fame has never interested me, and I’m not sure it ever will. Apart from my charity goals, my main ambition has always been to work my way up within a luxury goods conglomerate. Today at 23 years old, as Digital Project Manager in charge of Earned Media worldwide for Christian Dior Paris, my dream has come true. Previously, I was Social Media and Digital Manager for UK and EMEA at Estee Lauder Companies, and prior to that I worked at Burberry in Bought Media. Despite the fact I graduated in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, I chased my dream in marketing, and the risk paid off.
At this point in my career, I feel I have some advice to share. Here are my five simple tactics to balance your professional and ‘social media’ life.
Make good usage of your free time: Plan content in advance. When you take trips on the weekend, bring products you want to shoot, plan your outfits and make a list of places you’d like to take pictures. Don’t post during the trip, instead, enjoy your time away from social media, and edit and post when you return.
Seek out product collaborations: Always seek product collaborations. Whalar is the perfect agency for this; you can partake in a variety of campaigns with reasonable deadlines. These type of collaborations don’t usually require travel, so you won’t need to ask your boss for days off, meaning you can still be an influencer whilst maintaining a full time job.
Keep your friends and ‘influencer’ friends separate: Personally I don’t have many ‘influencer’ friends. All my trips are with my real friends and I love it that way. It really helps balance my personal life and social media life, as it’s very exhausting mixing both (especially if you work full time and have already such little personal time available). The most satisfying feeling comes from those dinners or night outs without the constant need to take photos.
Keep your phone off your desk at work: When you’re at work, really separate yourself from your social media platforms. Sometimes, I put my phone on airplane mode or even better; in my bag. You need to give your 100% whilst at work (and you don’t want to see photos of other influencers jet setting around the world with different brands while you are filling in excel spreadsheets, trust me!)
Leverage your insights: Use your social media knowledge to bring new ideas to the table at your job. Get involved with social media decisions, become pivotal in any influencer activity and present ideas you’ve seen other brands do that you’ve previously worked with.
In summary, the biggest piece of advice I can give to anyone in a similar position to mine is to continue what you’re doing. Instagram and social media are not eternal and there’s always something new round the corner. And if being an influencer is your full time profession then continue with that route; remember, you can always go back into the working world whenever you see fit. The best part is that the influencer knowledge you are accumulating now will be invaluable to any product or service-based company in the future.
You can find out more about Akash Mehta by following his Instagram page, @mehta_a