The Difference between Popularity and Influence in Social Media

popularity-influence-social-mediaAre you gaining influence or popularity among your user base? Is there a difference and if so, does it matter?

Far too frequently, brands fall into the trap of thinking that the only thing that matters is the number of visitors they attract, which is not necessarily the case. You could easily have more visitors than your competitor but your competitor could be more influential. How is that possible? Suppose you have a larger number of visitors than your competitor, but most of your traffic is generated by search engines. That is not a bad thing, of course, as it is a significant goal. With that said, if your competitor receives less traffic, but their visitors are regular and more invested, they could easily have more influence.

It should always be kept in mind that a large number of visitors can sometimes stem from a significant number of one-time visitors. Of course, all visitors begin as first-time visitors, but if a user only visits your landing page and then quickly moves on, never to return, you are not gaining anything from them. You have no real opportunity to build influence with one-time visitors. With regular visitors, you are able to cultivate a true relationship. Over time, those visitors become invested in your brand and truly care about what you have to say. For this reason, it is vital to consider whether your viewership is based more on one-time visitors or on return visitors who are truly invested in what you have to say.

Measuring Your Influence

So, if it is more important to have influence with your audience than to be popular, how do you go about measuring influence? While it can admittedly be difficult to measure influence as compared to popularity, there are a few metrics that can guide you in determining your brand’s level of influence. Begin by evaluating your number of return visitors as compared to your number of one-time visitors. Drive-by visitors, those visitors who only visit your website once and then move on, do not really count toward your influence score.

What You Can Do to Build Influence?

Ultimately, influence comes down to authority. The more confident a visitor feels about what you have to say, the more likely he or she is to visit again. The more a visitor frequents your social profile or website, the more they will begin to trust your brand. The more trust you are able to establish with that visitor, the more likely he or she is to make a purchase. Sound marketing has always been built on establishing trust between brands and consumers. The only difference today is the way in which brands proceed in building that trust.

Social media marketing and content marketing are both powerful methods that make it much easier for brands to reach their target customers today. Both also present excellent opportunities for developing the all-important level of influence that drives trust and eventually sales.

Influencer marketing is currently one of the biggest phenomenons in marketing today. Based on the concept of partnering with brand ambassadors and social content creators, influencer marketing gives you the opportunity to leverage the power of influential leaders on such social networks as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. TapInfluence reports that brands are now pouring millions of dollars into the influencer marketing industry. While a brand endorser or social media influencer could easily be a celebrity, an increasing number of brands are now focusing on tapping into the influence held by everyday consumers, as well. This can prove to be particularly important when it comes to “mommy” bloggers who can often have a significant impact. They make blog from their kitchen table or living room sofa, but do not discount the influence that many of these bloggers can have.

The Benefits of Influencer Marketing

Bringing a brand advocate onboard can provide a great number of benefits, including the ability to humanize your product or service. E-commerce is great, but consumers can sometimes feel as though they are making a purchase from a faceless entity. A recommendation from an influential blogger or social media leader can help to change that. As brand advocates support your products or services across their blog or social media page, they are actually affirming your brand’s value and helping to build trust.

Of course, as the old cliché goes, there is no free lunch. Brand advocates do not typically endorse products or services without any expectation of remuneration. How you elect to compensate a brand advocate may often depend upon the size of their audience, but the most common methods include a discount, free gift, or a voucher.

Not sure how to go about attracting prospective brand advocates? This can depend based on the social media platform you are targeting, but in most instances, it is important to begin by finding potential influencers and then following them first. Engage them by liking and commenting on their posts. Sharing and re-tweeting the content from influencers can help, as well.

This type of marketing can also have a trickledown effect as your loyal customers share the word about your brand. In the old days, we often referred to this as word-of-mouth marketing. While generations past might have recommended products to their families and neighbors while chatting over coffee, today’s consumers do so through social media. In order to take advantage of today’s digital form of word-of-mouth-marketing, it is important to make sure that all of your content and even your product pages are as shareable as possible. Do not overlook the opportunity to include sharing icons for all major platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Both popularity and influence have their place in today’s world of marketing. The key is to make certain that you do no confuse the two. By tapping into the power of influential advocates and learning how to build your brand’s own level of influence, you can ensure you stay ahead of the competition. 

About Brett Relander

Brett is a Digital Marketing Consultant and Founder with specialties in mobile marketing (apps & sites) and social media marketing. He is a featured contributor to Entrepreneur.com and SocialMediaToday.com as well as a speaker and small business advocate.