Erika Rabara prefers not to call herself an influencer, especially outside client meetings. Not that she’s ashamed of it; she’s actually quite proud of what she does. “It’s just that when people hear ‘influencer,’ they think it’s so easy when it’s really not,” she said. “I take my job seriously. I don’t promote just any brand; only brands my fans will like,” Erika adds.
In this era of fluff and clickbaits, Erika’s Instagram feed is a sight for sore eyes. Instead of the expected social media profile-turned-catalogue of brands, Erika’s is filled with stories about her life. When she does post about brands, she weaves them into those everyday stories, making a hashtag here and brand mention there somewhat forgivable.
When Erika completed her medical technology degree recently, for instance, she shared a studio-shot portrait, a pose in her graduation gown outside the venue, and a photo of herself and boyfriend John Manalo. But the astute entrepreneur also used the occasion to run a product giveaway campaign for the clothing store where she got the dress she wore at the ceremony.
Whatever Erika is doing is probably working, as brands, local and otherwise, are now falling in line to work with her for campaigns, often alongside her celebrity boyfriend. Asked how she got to where she’s at now, this social media star who started out on Tumblr can only think of one answer: “When I endorse brands, I try my best to make the content organic, genuine, personal.”
It’s easy to forget that Erika is only 19 when she gives insightful advice like that on influencer marketing. That precociousness is tempered, however, by the giggle she gives out when probed further about how she amassed a following of some 280,000 on Instagram alone. “Maybe the romantic posts by John helped?” she offers. John has some 170,000 followers on the platform.
She also suspects that her audience followed her from Tumblr and were pleased to finally see the face behind the poems they’ve been reposting on the microblogging site. Erika gave them more reasons to stay on, of course: pretty photos from her trips, quick reviews of the new food joint around the corner, and random sparks of inspiration on how to spend their weekends.
“If you continue doing what you love and when you continue posting stuff that you think people will like, followers will come,” Erika explains, proudly adding that she’s never had to buy followers just to boost numbers. When asked to post about a brand, Erika asks: “What can we do so that our followers don’t really feel like we’re selling stuff?”
Erika does not harbor the illusion that her followers don’t know she’s being paid to post about products. She’s probably right. Research suggests that half of social media users assume influencers get paid for talking about brands. She understands, however, that her followers keep her on their feed because they trust her. The young influencer is careful not to break that trust.
“Your followers are your real clients,” Erika Rabara told The Crafters in an interview. “It’s true that the brands are the ones who pay you, but they come to you because of your audience. So don’t give your audience anything that’s not good,” she added. Besides, your audience will call you out for it. A good question to ask before posting is ‘Will I get bashed for this?’, Erika quipped.
Behind the virtual glitz and glamor of social media fame, Erika knows that being an influencer is a job and that the brands who work with her need results. “If we’re endorsing, what we’re assuring you is that people will talk about you. You’ll get awareness and engagement,” she said. Erika owns a business account on Instagram, and is ready to share figures when needed.
She’s also ready, however, to negotiate her way out of a campaign brief that’s likely to hurt her credibility. “I’ve had to tell a few clients that they have to listen to us because this is our line of work,” Erika said. “We know what our audience wants,” she added, with passion that proves that whatever her thoughts are on the term influencer, Erika Rabara sure knows influencer marketing.
To work with Erika Rabara on influencer marketing campaigns, visit the GetCraft Marketplace.