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Influence, Popularity and Profits: Which One Begats the Other?

It’s good to be popular. It means people like you. They want to hang with you and they’re interested in what you have to say. On Facebook, that means a lot of people want to be your friend. If you’re a brand, they like your page.

Popular means you have a great deal of influence over those that follow you. Or does it?

Brian Solis talks about the difference between popularity and influence in an article on PaidContent.org. He states that influence is a combination of three factors. One is reach. Popular people have that due to the large number of followers on Facebook or Twitter.

Second is Relevance. Justin Bieber has great reach, but that doesn’t mean he’s the best person to Tweet about life insurance or pharmaceuticals.

Third is Resonance. You get Betty White to Tweet about life insurance and you’re probably reaching the right crowd. But is she going to keep the conversation going?

The point here is that in social media, less can often mean more — more profits, that is.

AdAge talks about the recent case of the 85-year-old restaurant critic in North Dakota who became an overnight celeb when her Olive Garden review was linked through Gawker. Traffic exploded, her website got a boost in ad dollars and they sold some souvenir T-shirts. Then her fame passed and it was back to business as usual.

Peretti, founder of BuzzFeed told AdAge,

“Hits don’t always lead to revenue. It’s a paradox of online publishing that the moments that generate the most excitement and traffic usually yield the lowest ad rates or go unsold.”

Once again, popularity didn’t equal profit.

When it comes to social media, having more followers than less is a good thing simply because it ups your chances of finding that one diamond in a box of glass.

But the real gem is that one social influencer who will actually drive sales on your behalf. 1,000 drive-by followers vs 1 who truly believes in you and what you’re selling.

How do you find that person? I wish I could give you a simple formula, but there isn’t one. Finding an influencer takes research, trial and error and a lot of virtual legwork but once you align yourself with one, you will see a positive change in your bottom line.

How do you go about finding an influencer to represent your brand?