Being popular isn’t the same as being influential

There appears to be a misconception that busyness means business. People, brands and even agencies mistake a sizeable following as an indication of influence.

But it’s quite irrelevant.

Window shoppers don't equate with customers. As any fashion store manager will tell you; it's how much money customers actually spend in the store that's crucial not how many people visit! 

Similarly, influence is determined by the influencers impact on their followers spending habits - the number of followers is not actually representative of influence.

Followers can be faked or bought. Followers may be just dispassionate observers, casual bystanders; not involved with the influencer. All it takes is for one person to notice a post, for a repost or a re-tweet to cause a social media chain reaction. It doesn't take much to increase ones following, in fact it can happen overnight.

But even though overnight success may boost ones online popularity within that period, it doesn't mean that the success will follow them through and it most definitely does not mean that they will have an influence on their followers’ consumer decisions. 

Size of following only matters if followers are actually consuming the content and engaging with it.

Let’s take two scenarios, a girl posts a picture of a necklace to her 20,000 followers of which 20 end up buying that same necklace. Whilst another blogger, a self proclaimed necklace enthusiast posts a picture of the same necklace to her 5,000 followers and 100 of them buy it.

Who is more influential?

It doesn't take Einstein to figure, that the girl in the second scenario, has a greater influence with her audience. Successfully compelling 100 of her followers to make a purchase. Brands would and should want to work with the second girl, but in contrast brands are recruiting their influencers today always mostly for the greater following.

 

What does real influence depend on?


CONTENT: QUALITY OVER QUANTITY

Just because “influencers” see followers, doesn't mean that “followers” notice, “influencers”!

Followers respond to good, engaging, appealing and compelling content. How influencers present a brand’s product, how they portray, caption and describe it, makes all the difference.

It’s not how many posts they do a week, but how good their posts are! Working with fewer brands but sticking to them makes them more committed, trustworthy and authentic. 

 

ENGAGEMENT

The difference between popularity and influence is quite like those American high school films. Popularity represented by that cool girl who has a clique built upon fake relationships, the one who would do anything for attention, and will be sure to receive it.

On the other hand, the unpopular girl, the reserved one with a small circle of friends but bursting in authenticity and a real, long-lasting connectedness is a lot more influential. Why? Because the unpopular girl respects and engages with her circle, her voice is relatable, appreciated and heard.

The popular girl surely is dazzling, amusing, entertaining and admired by passersby, but that’s as far as it goes. Being popular doesn’t make her influential, she doesn’t hold the same level of resonance and relevance that a niche expert with a smaller following would have.

 

How to measure influence?

How you determine popularity is easy,  influence on the other hand is quite tricky.

True influence, isn't something you can measure in one glance; you need to dig deeper, influence is more dynamic.

In simple terms influence is the number of people’s actions changed to be skewed towards those of the influencer. So there are certain actions of an audience which can be measured to give an indication of influence.

 

BLOG

A blogger’s influence can be measured by the number returning visitors. If readers are coming back it means that they appreciate and are invested in the content. Curious to read about what the blogger posts next. Over time bloggers cultivate a true, trusting relationship with their returning readers and subscribers who become influenced by them.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA

Whether it’s measuring ones influence on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook; it’s a balance between the number of followers and the number of likes, reposts, re-tweets and shares. Sharing content means that it’s important and interesting enough to be shared to their own circle.

Influence is a pro-active rather than a passive concept and so is much more valuable to have, challenging to cultivate and difficult to measure!