Social Media, and in particular the “Social Media Influencer” phenomenon has generated many myths, lies, and half-truths, but lately, there are three huge ones that have been getting me annoyed.
Yes, yet again I am posting because I have a rant to get off my chest 😉
Influencer Marketing and Reciprocity
It’s funny how the internet fills a vacuum. And the internet doesn’t select the best or the truth, just what it finds.
Unfortunately, that means people get bad advice.
A while ago I ran a course called Authority Blogger. It was about building a business by sharing what you know, and what you can most help people with.
The people you help eventually form your community, and that community leads to you being supported in return.
Reciprocation in action.
While I can push myself to stand in front of an audience, I am reluctant to speak most of the time due to being shy. I am introverted. It makes me extremely uncomfortable to be in the spotlight so I focus on teaching what I have learned, and contribute by helping.
Do it right and you can earn a good income or even a full-time living. Darren and I wrote a book called ProBlogger. Similar kind of idea.
The best thing is you get rewarded for tangibly, and memorably helping people.
To me, that is being a real influencer.
Myth 1: “All You Need is a Ton of Followers”
You are NOT entitled to attention and rewards because of a vanity number attached to your name. Or because you have a blue check mark. Sorry if that is hard to hear.
Unfortunately, the definition of what people think an influencer is has warped quite a lot. Incredibly, people who have attracted a large following have become entitled, they think because they have a large following they should automatically get paid big bucks.
To the point where I have seen folks with a lot of Instagram followers crying that they are not making enough money, claiming that people who do are lying, or getting jealous of people with smaller communities (in terms of follower count) getting ahead of them.
Fame doesn’t necessarily mean influence. Being well-known doesn’t automatically lead to money.
Long-term readers will be able to recite this and it remains true today.
Know, Like and Trust.
Of these, “know” is the easiest. Being recognized is not what this is about, it is part of the puzzle and the weakest on its own.
Some people do like to associate with people with large follower counts believing that is a proxy for power. Don’t fall into this trap.
Being “popular” can be faked, and “visibility” is mistaken for popularity. You can purchase likes and followers easily. They are not genuine, of course, but it can fool those who are unaware or don’t care.
Like and trust is where the influence lies. They are powerful and fragile factors. You can spend a lifetime building trust and ruin it within seconds.
I am sure I don’t need to give you examples.
This is why I focus on helping people, being genuinely useful to people. Earn the trust. Show who you are so people can connect with you.
It is ok if people don’t connect with you also. People constantly tell me on YouTube that they can’t stand my accent. That’s ok (if a bit hurtful.) You can’t both be yourself and appeal to everyone. Choose to be you!
Myth 2: “Influence Can Be Bought”
“But Chris that sounds like a lot of time and a lot of work!”. Yep, sorry.
As I said previously, you can accelerate your visibility with money, outrageous acts, click-bait, and drama … but that alone isn’t going to achieve the trifecta of Know, Like, and Trust.
People often say to me “What about Mr Beast”? He gives away millions of dollars and is now one of the biggest names on YouTube.
What those folks fail to realize or remember is he didn’t spring from nowhere. He put in time and effort to analyze everything he could about the YouTube algorithm, his videos are entertaining, and he puts a huge amount of organization and care into making his content as good as possible.
His audience doesn’t just watch a viral video and go away, they come back loyally and take action when he asks them to.
Mr Beast isn’t huge because he gives away money, he can give away money because his channel is huge in the ways that count.
Myth 3: “All You Need is a Good Product” AKA “Social Media isn’t Marketing”
For the last few years, I have been mostly hanging out in the “maker” niche, and when my worlds collide there is a funny conversation that comes up in a variety of ways:
Them: “You do marketing? Huh, marketing is dead. We sold X without ANY marketing”
Me: “Really? Zero marketing?”
Them: “Nope, we just wrote about it on our site and social media, shared a copy or two with YouTubers, and I got interviewed on that podcast, that kind of thing”
Me: “… I mean …”
Them: “ZERO MARKETING”
Me: “… well done ;)”
Again, that idea of “exposure” being all you need, and mistaking that for being something apart from “marketing”.
Sorry to break this to you, but having the best widget in the world is not enough, even if you get thousands of people to hear about it.
Why? There is this thing called “Product-Market Fit” for one.
The world’s best snow blower is not going to get much traction in Florida.
OK, so you identify who your product will most appeal to. Now is that enough?
A small percentage might identify that your product suits them, but you will have a much easier time if you craft a compelling message.
Why should anyone take notice of you? What about your approach is better than what they have or competitors’ alternatives?
Of course, there are a bunch of people getting by on discounting, racing to the bottom of the price and value basement. Some can get away with being the cheapest because they have low overheads, they might get materials for free and not value their own time very highly.
Cheapest isn’t the best place to be for most of us.
Social Media Influencing Bottom Line
You are an influencer if when you suggest people do something (subscribe, purchase, etc), people do it.
I became one of the biggest affiliates for Glowforge not because I have a huge following, and quantity of content, or even because I rank well (I do rank well for the keyword, but that doesn’t tell the whole story, as I explained above).
It’s not about if you are highly visible, or have a big number of followers, that is good for the ego and bragging rights, but isn’t rewarding beyond that.
If you are hiring influencers, make sure you are getting influence for your money. Return on investment, not just “exposure”.
As I have said before, you can’t pay bills with exposure dollars.