Why All Social Media Influencers Aren’t Influential

Makenna Johnson
By Makenna Johnson

There are several contributing factors that make a social media influencer an effective figure within their niche. Whether their specialty is in health and wellness, fashion, travel or even the foodie space, influencers are viewed as thought leaders within their community and someone their audience seeks for insight and information. These public figures hold an influence over their community of followers, and impact the way their audience perceives a brand’s products and services.

With that being said, there are also several users that appear to be influencers across their social media platforms, who in fact, don’t hold any influence over their audience at all. The contributing factors that can make an influencer an impactful figure, can also in turn make an influencer, or someone perceived to be as an influencer, ineffective within their space.

Related: Getting Started with Social Media Influencer Outreach

The question then becomes, why aren’t all social media influencers influential figures? What makes one influencer succeed within their niche and others drown in their attempts? How do brands identify which social figures hold valuable influence over their community?

There is no mathematical formula to all of this. There is not one set of rules that, once followed, make an influencer an impactful resource across social media with an impressive influence over their audience. The trick is in the little things.

Things such as the strength of their following, the relevance of their content to a specific niche, the engagement and conversations they participate in, and the quality of the content they put forward. Let’s break it down and shed some light on the overarching truth of why all some social media influencers aren’t, in fact, influential figures.

Fake Following

As the trend of social influencers gain more popularity across social media, so does the aspiration of their followers to become influencers themselves. Most users believe that the more followers they have, the more successful their brand appears to be.

But, just like the age old saying states, quality is more impactful than quantity. An influencer could have millions of followers, but only a handful of users that check that influencer’s account regularly or have any interest in what that influencer posts.

Related: How to Create an Influencer Campaign That Generates More Than Likes

An issue that brands have experienced is choosing to partner with influencers on a social media marketing campaign, who have purchased their followers rather than earned their following organically. Although a large following appears to be more desirable, social media influence is more than a popularity contest.

The larger the following influencer’s have, the more they risk their engagement rates significantly decreasing. Say for instance an influencer has 70,000 followers, but averages a mere 100-200 likes per post. What does this tell us? This tells us that there is only a small number of users that are engaging with their content, and we may assume that the rest of their following consists of fake accounts.

Social users need to shift their focus to quality over quantity. Prior to creating a partnership for an influencer marketing strategy, brands typically look at an influencer’s average engagement rates to evaluate the influence they hold. Having a significantly low like-to-follow ratio is an easy way to detect whether that user is influential within its space or not.

Irrelevant Content

Every social media influencer should fall under a certain niche market to increase their thought leadership and influence on their audience. This doesn’t mean that every influencer necessarily does this. There are several social media influencers across social platforms that try to cram as many different brands into their content as possible.

Not choosing a niche market to thrive in, is a mistake. Influential social users are considered thought leaders primarily because they post relevant content that fits within their niche. An influencer that tries to wear all the hats, rather than just one, is less likely to be perceived as a thought leader and less likely to impact its audience.

Related: How to Create an Influencer Campaign Strategy That Converts

The content users share across their social media platforms should be meaningful and it should reflect their everyday lifestyle. Posting content that falls outside of that influencer’s niche or everyday routine is likely to appear as a blatant advertisement, and that post won’t resonate as well with its followers.

Social media users are becoming increasingly savvy and they can easily detect when an influencer’s post is organic as opposed to when it was posted as a result of a sponsored collaboration. If an influencer shares a post that is a result of a partnership, it needs to be subtle and fit within that influencer’s profile aesthetic.

Lack Of Engagement

Influencers who choose not to respond or engage with their audience are missing a huge marketing opportunity to build consumer trust and carry out brand messaging. Social media users are more likely to trust the opinions of a person they feel like they can relate to, and someone who honestly answers their questions, rather than a person who doesn’t reciprocate engagement or shares their experiences.

Related: Why Influencer Marketing is an Invaluable Tool for Emerging Brands

Social media users can only be influential figures if they are perceived as a real person, a resource of information, and even a friend that their audience seeks advice from. Influencers need to build their relationship with their audience before they are able to build consumer trust and have an influence over their opinions.

Engagement begins with responding to comments, answering direct messages, engaging in conversations and offering their honest opinions. By building a strong relationship with their followers, they are building trust and credibility to their individual brand, that will end up accelerating their effectiveness as an influencer.

One-Touch Vs. Multiple Touches

There is a significant difference between social media influencers who carry out brand exposure with multiple posts and social media influencers who only post about a brand once. As a general rule of thumb, it takes multiple posts across several channels for an audience to gain familiarity with a brand and its products.

Seeing a product one time has a significantly weaker impact than seeing it multiple times across several channels. People are quick to scroll through posts without fully grasping the content, but if the same brand continues to show up through multiple posts, followers are more likely to show interest in that brand and explore it for themselves.

Repetition

On the contrary, it’s important to also recognize the importance of avoiding excessive repetition. While reminders of a product and appearance on several media channels can be an influential tactic, becoming too repetitive with content will drive followers away and cause them to lose interest in those posts.

The least effective way to carry out brand exposure is by sharing the same image, with the same caption each time. The most effective way to share a brand’s story through multiple touches is by sharing an array of different photos, each with a new key message or fun fact about that brand, to avoid this kind of irritating repetition.

Low-Quality Content

Quality content is a key element to influencer success. Although it may appear to be obvious, followers enjoy seeing visually aesthetic, high-resolution images within their feed. As users are scrolling through their feed, they’re unconsciously rating the quality of each post that they come across based on its attractiveness.

It’s very obvious whether an influencer puts effort into their content or not, and it’s as simple as saying that more attractive posts receive more engagement. In other words, if social media influencers are creating low-quality content, their engagement rates will be significantly less than influencers who spend hours promoting high-quality, visually aesthetic images.

Too Much Brand Messaging

Although it’s important to include a brand’s key messaging within a social post, including too much key messaging can make it obvious that the influencer isn’t sharing their thoughts or opinions in their own voice.

Within reading just a few words of a generic caption followers will know this was not handcrafted and that influencer will lose any sense of authenticity that they once had. All it takes is a bit of organic and authentic testimony in an influencer’s own words to make a substantial difference.

Followers seek out social media influencers to provide honest testimonials about a brand’s products. Their audience wants to know what that person liked about the brand, didn’t like, and their individual experience with it.Followers seek out influencers who go in depth with their experience, i.e. how much they used a certain product, if they think the price is reasonable, the benefits of using it, etc.

For example, a product may be on the pricier side, but if an influencer were to share their opinion that they found it to be worth the extra chunk of change, followers will be increasingly more interested and likely to purchase.

Related: How to Find the Right Instagram Influencers for Your Brand

Since it’s important for social media influencers to be transparent, their followers expect to hear all the juicy details. The influencers that simply copy and paste a brand’s key messaging into their post make less of an impact than if they rephrased the key messaging in their own voice, because their voice is what their audience is familiar with and value.

This goes back to my earlier point about followers becoming savvy. With the amount of time users are spending on social media, it is not difficult for followers to quickly identify whether something is written in an influencer’s own words, or a cut and dry version of a branding message.

Wrapping Up

So, why aren’t all social media influencer influential figures? The answer is simple: there are several contributing factors that impact the authority an influencer holds within their community of followers. Although brands like to narrow-in on one component as a deciding factor of whether a social user is influential within their social media marketing campaign, they need to take into account these components, as well as the consistency of an influencer’s posts and how well their maintain their influential tactics in each piece of content they produce.

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Makenna is a PR Coordinator and Account Manager at Power Digital. As a University of Oregon alumni, she studied Journalism with an emphasis on Public Relations, and has been passionate about the field ever since. Makenna spearheads SEO outreach and manages social media influencer outreach within the PR departement, building valuable partnerships with publications and influencers to elevate both brand awareness and ROI for our clients. Go ducks!