For lots of social media influencers, creating content isn’t just a hobby — it’s a profession. Whether an influencer is sharing cooking videos or pictures of their outfit-of-the-day, there’s often a lot of strategy that goes into posting something that appeases the algorithm and shows up in people’s feeds.
While you don’t need to know how to write code to post a photo, understanding some basic coding skills can help influencers who treat their platform like a business, explains Maya Bello, a full-stack software engineer who makes TikToks and YouTube videos about coding and working in tech.
There are so many types of influencers out there — from TikTok beauty gurus to computer science content creators — but they’re all essentially marketers who have “the power to affect the buying habits or quantifiable actions of others,” as WIRED put it.
Of course, coding has plenty of other benefits that have nothing to do with making money or marketing yourself. “I feel like learning how to code has given me a lot of problem-solving skills that I use in all areas of my life,” Maya says. “So, if I’m having a problem with a certain [social media] platform, I think about all the different ways I could solve that problem.”
Here are some specific technical skills that social media influencers might want to learn to grow their audience and make more engaging content.
Influencers have to pay attention to the number of followers they have or the amount of likes and comments that a certain post gets. These stats affect how much money an influencer makes on a sponsored post, and the size of brands that they can attract. “Understanding your analytics is extremely important,” Maya says.
Maya uses YouTube’s built-in analytics tool to track granular information (like what keywords people type in the search bar to find her videos) and audience retention (which is how long people watch a video before leaving the page). “From there, you can make informed decisions on the type of content you could make,” she says.
For example, Maya discovered through her analytics that people really like to watch “Day In The Life” videos, so she started making more. “I love making those videos, so that’s kind of a win-win,” she says.
Getting comfortable reading and interpreting data opens tons of possibilities. There’s a whole field called data science that involves translating data into information of value using probability and statistics, software engineering, and domain knowledge. If you’re curious, Codecademy has lots of beginner-friendly data science courses to explore, like Learn SQL or Learn R.
Or, if you’re ready to take your skills to the next level, our Data Science career path will teach you everything you need to know in order to get a data analyst or data scientist position, including how to use SQL to manipulate data and Python to make data visualizations.
Basic web development
Though influencers primarily use their social media profiles to promote themselves and share updates, lots of people also have a personal website, too. “Coding your own website could be fun,” Maya says.
Joanne Paquin is a social media associate at Codecademy, so she’s in charge of posting everything you see on Codecademy’s social media accounts. “Something I’ve found helpful is having some familiarity with HTML,” Joanne says.
For example, in other social media roles, Joanne recalls tweaking a website’s code in order to embed Facebook posts. “It was nice being able to make those adjustments without having to reach out to WordPress’ support center every time I wanted something to look a little bit different,” she says.
If you want to learn how to build a personal website, check out our pro skill path Build a Website with HTML, CSS, and Github Pages. Codecademy also has a Front-End Engineer career path that covers everything from how to build dynamic web apps to the fundamentals of UI/UX design, and gets you ready to apply for jobs.
No sweat if you’re not interested in coding a website from scratch; there are lots of drag-and-drop website builders that can do it for you, like Wix or Squarespace, Maya says. To master Wix and get hands-on practice making a resume website, try our course Create a Professional Website with Velo by Wix.
Beyond having an eye for the most flattering Instagram filter to use on a photo, social media influencers can benefit from learning design principles. On YouTube, for example, creators often use custom banners on their channels and video thumbnails, Maya says. It’s a small tweak that can “help curate a beautiful feed” that looks cohesive and professional, she says.
Joanne agrees that design is big in social media: “I took a graphic design class in college for fun, and it ended up being one of the most helpful courses for my career,” she says.
If you have an understanding of HTML and CSS, but want to beef up your design knowledge, check out our Learn Color Design course. You’ll get plenty of practice using CSS and learn important color theory and accessibility principles. Our new course Introduction to UI and UX Design is another great beginner-friendly option if you’d like to learn how user interface and user experience affect development.