And how it affects the strategies we create.
Listen to me riff above or read below …
I've been thinking a lot about social media influence, social media influencers and this space that has evolved over the last few years. It's become big business, as an industry it is said to be worth $15 billion with more and more agencies springing up to connect brands with Influencers. And yet it's also, in my opinion, creating quite a lot of confusion for people who are coming to social media to use it to promote a project or a small business. Perhaps as a coach or an author, who are influencers, influencing through a book, rather than a digital platform. Though in today's age, the two go hand in hand, in order to be a successful author, really you need to have a successful social media platform in order to get a book deal.
Being a social media Influencer comes with a lot of responsibility. It can come with a lot of stress and anxiety around keeping up, keeping up with algorithms, keeping up with producing and posting content regularly. I remember reading about a Twitch streamer, a gaming platform, who didn't post for a few days because they were ill and they lost millions of followers because they weren't posting. That kind of pressure, particularly on those who get to that level, is huge. I also think there's a lot of pressure on those who are coming new to the space. It can feel very overwhelming, this thought of being successful on social media, where you are expected to have these tens to hundreds of thousands of followers.
And as per my last article where I talked about emotional contagion through social networks, we're all influencing each other on a day to day basis, unconsciously a lot of the time. So this is a stretchy subject and it's something I've been musing over…
What is influence on social media?
And how does it affect the strategies that we create and make when showing up in the space?
I consult in lots of different businesses and I am often sat at a crossroads from a strategy perspective depending on what it is the client really wants to achieve, and what they're able to give in order to achieve that.
An Influencer is considered to be someone with 50,000+ followers. I’m not sure if it's possible for one person to be able to build, grow and maintain a platform of that size without a team. I think it's a choice that people have to then make. I think where you are the kind of business where you're doing things yourself and you want to use social media as a way to engage and share with people, then I think we need to be looking at different strategies and platforms too.
Looking at TikTok and particularly the conversation around TikTok, because it’s exploded so much in the last few years. I’ve written about this recently in ‘TikTok. I hope not’, it’s not a platform I want to endorse or get involved with. For people who are wanting to reach bigger and bigger audiences, of course it is of interest. It doesn't align with my values and even working in Instagram, because I’ve got so much experience with it, I can still see that real connections and genuine, positive influence can be had in that space. Maybe that’s true of TikTok too, but I can’t go there.
I definitely have question marks around Meta too. There was a post I saw this week by The Ethical Move who said they were reimagining their Instagram strategy. It was a Town Square to Living Room strategy, and if you follow my work, you will know I talk a lot about taking people from the Town Square of social media to the Living Room of other digital spaces, whether that's a membership platform or something like Substack.
What does it really take to be a social media Influencer?
Is it just about numbers? With my clients, I try to make sure that we are providing soulful influence. That we're providing influence from the heart in these spaces. With one client, we have a strategy of service. The content we post is intentional and in service to the audience. I have another client where our strategy and intention is about having ‘an experience for the soul' through the content, so that everything is imbued with that energy.
You can look at social media influence in lots of different ways.
I have another client that I'm coaching, she's really stepping into her power and finding her voice around issues of now and of today. To create influence in order to support people in these times.
We are often influencing simply just by being… And so the idea of influence is fluid and it something that can also be manipulated online.
Many people are being censored on social media these days, where posting things that are not in alignment with say what the government wants. Russell Brand recently had videos taken down by YouTube and has started daily live streams on Rumble as a result. There's been an internet safety bill that the UK government have been passing recently, which says that anyone who doesn't agree with what the government is saying can be censored. So what sort of influence is that that, when the governments are having a difference of opinion silenced in these spaces?
So you can start to see all these nuanced levels that we are coming into and this idea of influence when we think about social media. There is much for me to ponder and explore with you here, and I hope to speak more into it over the coming months, because I think it is important.
There's social media influencer marketing; which is influencing people to buy products. And that's been born of bloggers and YouTubers and Instagrammers who came to the space to share their passions around certain topics, to share their lives with others, like mummy bloggers…. And as their audiences built, they saw that had an opportunity to then recommend products to in exchange for money or things. So it's like the marketing and advertising world shifted into this Influencer space. But then it becomes difficult to know what to trust because if all of these people are being paid to promote these products, is that a genuine recommendation? Is that false influence? I have run micro-influencer and influencer campaigns that thrive on authenticity, yet are they truly authentic?
We also have people that are building audiences and building platforms to promote ideas, to promote ways of being, to promote living with soul and living in service. Like my client Diana Cooper, her whole reason for wanting to grow a big audience is to be able to share the information and messages that she has come through from her connection with spirit to in order to help people as we move through these times.
Yet being a social media influencer, in whatever form, when it's such a dynamic space, it can create a lot of stress and anxiety. When I think about the clients that come to me, I think some important questions to ask are: Do you want to grow a social media audience to have a positive influence on humanity? Are you trying to build an audience from a numbers perspective to build advertising, budgets, sales?
Often in the author space I sit in, it's a combination of the two. So what do we do?
I think we have to make choices about the platforms that we want to be on. If you want to be a social media influencer, even as an author who's promoting their own ideas and their own products and their own things, if you want to grow into hundreds of thousands, to millions of followers, then you have to have a very different strategy.
I don't think it is possible in this day and age to run a huge account without having support. Whether that's the support of someone like me or whether it's the support of a virtual assistant or a team, a videographer, someone who's helping you with scheduling etc. There's so many pieces to it.
However, if you are a solopreneur or you are a coach, a consultant who has a smaller reach, who who doesn't need to reach tens or hundreds of thousands of people, that actually just want to use it as a communication tool to connect with a working community, with colleagues and clients and connections. Then having a slower strategy, perhaps utilising different platforms, in different spaces such as Substack, such as a mailing list can be a way to go. It will be a slower process because you've not got the energy of multiple pieces of content per day, or are creating content for the algorithms, let's say. And it becomes more of a bridging, at a slower pace, building Influence outside of the Town Square space.
This has to come down to personal choice, plus resources available in terms of time, money, energy, all of those things.
So the question that I will leave you with is…
What does it mean to you to be a social media influencer?
Let me know in the comments below.
Do you think the topic of influence on social media is important? If you are interested in me delving into this topic and it’s many nuances more, I would love to hear it.
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