Leadership

How to build a huge social media following—from an Instagram star who built a billion-dollar brand

Huda Kattan is a self-made millionaire and founder of the billion-dollar cosmetics brand Huda Beauty. With a fan base of more than two million subscribers on YouTube and 28 million followers on Instagram, she's one of the top influencers on the web.

But Kattan didn't grow this fan base overnight, she tells CNBC Make It. For those who are looking to build their own distinctive brands that draw millions of followers, Kattan says you need to ask yourself a few key questions.

Question #1: Who do you want to be?

Kattan didn't always know the answer to that question. In fact, she never imagined she'd run a beauty brand. After college, she worked in fields such as PR and recruitment before she found her true passion by launching the Huda Beauty blog in 2010.

Even then, she still didn't immediately see herself as a businesswoman and wasn't sure at first how to make her beauty vision stand apart.

Reflecting on what made her unique and what brought her fulfillment was key. "I realized that I needed to create something, an image of myself, that had never been [created] before and that's incredibly hard because it basically means you're pioneering," she says.

Question #2: What is your mission?

Once you establish who you want to be, you can focus on how to serve an audience. She suggests that you consider your demographic and what it needs as well as what you want to achieve in the long term.

In crafting her brand, Kattan eventually realized that her mission was to inspire. While Kattan's business has snagged a billion-dollar valuation from Forbes, she's most proud of how her followers have started ventures of their own and followed her example. Those followers are "going to give a piece of themselves to the world," she said in Harper's Bazaar Arabia. "That's what I would love to show people how to do."

Last year, Kattan created HB Angels, an investment fund to help further serve her followers and help new entrepreneurs get their start. "I realized that my purpose really is to inspire people," she said this summer. "It has nothing to do with money. It has nothing to do with anything material. It's really to prove to people that the little guy can make it."

Question #3: Does this match my values?

As your brand grows and is offered new opportunities, ask yourself if those opportunities reflect your mission and your identity. "It's really hard sometimes to do that," says Kattan. "It's really easy to get sidetracked."

Still, keeping focused on your identity and your mission will ensure you feel fulfilled and that you're still serving your values as well as the followers who've helped drive your success.

"The more focused you are, the more powerful you will be in the long run," she says.

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