Since the early days of social media, we have been trained and brainwashed that Influence and Influencers are important. This thinking was hijacked by the PR firms, because they were the first ducks to the social media waters, and their world revolved around finding, touching and reaching influencers for their clients. So, their voices disproportionally took over the topic of “social media influencers”, as they tacked-on “social” to “media influencers” to explain the new beast.
But do Influencers really matter?
It depends on who you are.
If you are a brand, yes it matters. But if you are a regular consumer, industry influencers matter less to you.
As a consumer on the social web, what you really care about is relationships with other people, and not with the so-called influencers specifically. We have confused “thought leadership” with influencers. Yes, there are Thought Leaders in several subjects, and there will always be. Social media gives them a platform. But that doesn’t make them social media influencers necessarily. And furthermore, you don’t have a relationship with them, so why should they matter to you?
Take any so-called social media influencers that you know of by name, and see if they have really influenced you, as an average consumer. The answer is probably not personally, but maybe in thought.
You want real influence? Start by developing a 1:1 relationship with those that you want to be influenced by or that you want to influence. The meaning of that influence will suddenly deepen and become more significant. Many of them will be people that you already know. Anthropologist Robin Dunbar stated that “we can only ever have 150 friends at most”, and he is probably right. No wonder, Path, the new social network limits your friends to 150 people. (side point digression: they were recently valued at $250 million)
You can use the social web and social discussions to develop or nurture these relationships, especially if you can have visibility about the 1:1 interactions with them over social networks and commenting spaces (hint: Engagio provides that visibility).
In the social web, everybody is an influencer. What matters to brands and their marketing approaches is not the same as what matters to individual consumers.
- Seeing Relationships from your Commenting Activity: The Social Interaction Graph (engag.io)
- The Rise of Digital Influence (sitecore.net)
- Is social media marketing central to managing online reputation? (marketing.yell.com)