Managing Influence (rs)

In the past week, I have thought a lot about influence. I have had conversations about influence as it pertains to leadership in the workplace. I also talked with a couple of moms on different occasions about the influence of other kids on theirs just because I was in the right place and willing to listen. The topic of influence must have been part of my “aura.” But the biggest questions regarding influence came to the surface as I was watching the documentaries about the Fyre Festival in 2017. Or, a better way of staying it is the “proposed but canceled because it wasn’t going to happen anyway Fyre Festival.”

Like most people, I heard about the festival (?) on social media because of the infamous cheese sandwich picture. I don’t have to show the picture here because most folks know exactly the cheese sandwich picture I’m talking about. I am a big fan of a good cheese coupled with the right bread for an amazing cheese sandwich but anyone could tell this wasn’t it. Even my amazing cheese sandwich wouldn’t have made the cut based on the promises the festival (?) organizers (?) made. Moving on…

The two different documentaries, currently available on Netflix and Hulu, give a lot of information on where this event went wrong. No judgment from me on those who paid to attend (A music fest in the Bahamas? I get it.). Nor do I judge the majority of folks who worked on the planning, organizing, setup, and other logistics of the festival (?). From my view, a lot of these folks were young or, like the workers in the Bahamas, in need of work and the money that was promised to them. On the other hand, I am judging the grown ass rapper who, I think, should have known better based on the fact he has been a part of events similar to the one he wanted to plan. And, I am also judging the shyster, con man, ne’er-do-well, ass who was a spoiled kid focused on getting his way for his own pleasure and pockets. Watching him reminded me so much of someone else getting attention for his desire for self-promotion based on a lot of untruths. I digress.

What stood out to me was the focus on the social influencers that kicked off the marketing promotion. As a marketer, I have to admit the original video was good. The video said a lot without saying a lot. And using names with social presence and influence to get people on board and buy was smart. But man should not live by social influencers alone.

I would love to know someone not influenced by social influencers in today’s society. I’m not one of those people. I have made a few purchases of things mentioned in an Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter post by someone with a lot of followers who will typically get that same item for free. Most were good purchases. Some were ok but I never bought them again. Those particular purchases also made me start looking at the influencers of those items very differently.

Look, for as long as there has been a medium, there has been a name to hawk a product. Radio and television audiences haven’t been as targeted and specific as social media. If you watched a television show, you may talk about it with friends but the brand couldn’t always be sure how much the ad resonated with the audience until puchases were made. Many ads were missed because of bathroom, kitchen, phone, or some other breaks at that time. But social followings are different. First, a follower is someone who has selected to follow a particular influencer. I can go to a top model’s IG and see exactly who is following him or her. As an advertiser and with some research, I can deduce quite a bit from a random sampling of those followers. I can then turn around and serve ads to many of those same folks. That’s marketing, advertising, and promotion, baby! But how do you manage the influencers?

I thought about this after buying an influencer’s influenced product that turned out to be just “meh” for me. I remembered a phrase that has given me some clarity when dealing with other people, comparison and folks that have tried to @ me about some things. The phrase is “consider the source.”

My first tip in managing the influence(rs) is to know the influencer. Who are they? What do they do as a profession? I’ve mentioned models so I can expect that influencer to show fashion, makeup, and shoes (so many shoes!). As names get bigger, the person gets more buzz, stars rise and so does the opportunity for brands to pay them (sometimes with stuff and other times with $$$) to promote their product. That’s the nature of the business. But knowing the influencer can help you have a better idea of what they my influence you regarding. Remember: social influencers also come in all shapes and sizes

The second tip is to know your interests. I previously mentioned I have bought some “meh” products. In retrospect, the reason they were “meh” was because they were not for me. I may have had some interest in an item but in the long run, the product didn’t truly align with me 100%. Live and learn is a good motto for me for this one. Our interests often change but following your core interests is the best foundation you can stand on.

The third tip is on the fringe of one and two but stands solidly on its own — RESEARCH. This one is a make or break for me. I enjoy research and it is necessary when I am spending money on a big ticket item. I will admit I can exhaust research and a search for more information before buying but that’s who I am. Once you have at least checked out more about the product and your are satisfied, go for it if it feels right. I don’t believe one influencer holds the holy grail and has all the information for one product or service. That would be insane. Try this readily accessible thing called Google. I am amazed at how few people actually look stuff up.

Trust will always be one of, if not the main, factor when considering recommendations from influencers. Do you trust your influencer will recommend a product the use and enjoy themselves? Let trust be your most important baramoter to help you manage your influencers.

What are your thoughts on influencers? Do you consider yourself influential regarding recommendations for products or services? What are some of your favorite influencers or products an influencer promoted? I’d love to hear from you.


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