In this roundup I was curious to hear from friends – some are SMI*, some are brands, and some are experts on something related – about their opinion on the question of whether SMI=Content is THE utmost reason why people hire SMI, or not. I got some interesting answers, posted below (scroll down to read mine at the bottom, after you’ve read friends’ answers first):
Zizipho Jebe (@zii_jebz) I don’t agree that it’s simply for them to see more content from the influencers only. Yes, that’s part of it but there’s more to it than just that.
As an influencer and content creator, I feel that my audience follows me for various reasons. They’ve become more than just followers but a community.
People follow influencers on social media because they want to read and see things that resonate with them. They follow us to find friendship and trust in us. They want to be entertained, challenged, and inspired by the content we put out for them. They want to see posts that attract them into wanting to screen grab the post, save it and or share it because they know their friends or family would love it or just as a tool for inspiration and motivation. These are just a few reasons why I personally think people follow influencers on social media.
Lia Haberman (@liahaberman): The actual content’s got very little to do with it. It’s more about the sense of community and belonging that the influencer sparks in their followers. I come from the entertainment industry and one of the best parallels I can use to describe it is the parasocial relationship fans develop with TV or movie stars. It’s primarily one-sided but the viewers start to identify as friends on a first-name basis with the object of their affection…
I see the same thing happening over and over with influencers. People immerse themselves in the details of their lives…
The big difference with influencers is that they’re much more welcoming of these intimate relationships, especially early on. And they’ll engage in these relationships and reveal personal details about themselves to grow their audience, grow their engagement and grow their influence….
So even if an influencer has millions of followers, lives in LA and travels the world for work, their success still depends in part on being described “relatable.”
Pieter Groenewald (@theSALT_ZA)**: An influencer is normally a thought leader or expert in a certain field, hence the connection to that influencer by a follower. So followers would like to be exposed to relevant content from that influencer on a regular basis, which keeps them up to date, informs and even perhaps educates them further.
It also allows for engagement with the influencer and other like-minded individuals. Below some screenshots of a recent campaign: Nadia, is an actress, but on a day she was feeling sick, she made a post around an online grocery delivery service.
The link was included in her bio and we could track the app downloads from her post. Check it out:
Below again is an intro to a new and exciting product range, by someone known for healthy food, which aligns perfectly with the product. Again we can precisely track traffic to a website and conversion in online account registrations and orders:
Meredith Jacobson (@we.are.boosters): I think when it comes to influencers, nothing can be stated simply 🙂 That said, if I were forced to distill it down to one overarching reason, then yes, I agree with your statement. Every creator has their own value prop, but when push comes to shove, a follow (unless it’s part of a scheme to win free product or something) is a solid indicator that the follower is interested in seeing more content.
“Mighty Oak” Actress Gianna Harris (@thegiannaharris): “Yes. I do believe that people follow influencers on social media to see more of them but they also might follow to make sure that they don’t miss anything that the influencer does. So I think it’s to get more details of their everyday life but also to make sure they don’t miss anything cool or any special announcements.
Neal Schaffer (@nealschaffer)**: I think people follow people on social media who they want to learn from or be entertained by. At some point they might want to reach out to that person and personally engage them with their questions. So I think it goes beyond mere content consumption into potentially a deeper relationship.
Amisha Gandhi (@AmishaGandhi): In addition to the content consumption or gleaning insights/opinions, it’s also to have a conversation with an expert, ask questions or share your own thoughts. If the content is good, then great discussions follow.
Ted Rubin (@TedRubin): Always keep in mind the best influencers, those who truly “influence” others are everyday people… employees, friends, neighbors, family, and colleagues. EVERYONE INFLUENCES SOMEONE.
The vast majority of what Brands consider and refer to as “Influencers” are media creators and storytellers… their content very often is great content, marketing and advertising, but keep in mind it serves as, and should be measured as, a media buy.
A Network Gives You Reach… But A Community Gives You Power! Relationships are like muscle tissue… the more they are engaged, the stronger and more valuable they become. So if you are only focused on the Money… You risk completely overlooking the People.
Tim Williams (@williamstim): I agree with Amisha Gandhi. Either content consumption, insights into market trends, conversation or they might want to learn how that individual behaves on social media to replicate their success.
Eva Sun: People follow influencers to see more content – this is true, but it is not the only reason why they follow strangers on social media. Content is an ambiguous term that covers ideas, inspirations, product recommendations, network connections, and etc. A fashion/lifestyle influencers might have followers who seek to improve their personal styles and study her/his content to get better at it. Such followers might also explore said influencer’s network and see who she/he is following. The bottom line is that people seek out solutions to their problems on the internet, and established influencers often serve as a credible resource to their followers. People don’t want to see just more content – they are hungry for the meaning the content can bring to their lives.
Tom Augenthaler (@taugenthaler): Initially, I believe content is the initial reason why people follow influencers. They like their content and want to read, see, listen to more. But it also goes deeper than that. People also relate to the personal stories, problems, situations, and solutions the influencers share with their audiences. They also look to influencers for advice, insights, and in many cases, expert opinions.
Samantha Puzzo (@sproutwithsammie): I do believe people follow influencers for their content, especially when following influencers with a certain niche. For instance, if I enjoy travel, I want to follow an influencer who posts content from all over the world, it I enjoy makeup and looks, I’m going to follow an influencer who posts complete makeup looks. It is about content.
While I do believe the captions and what you have to say is important, the image is what will stop an audience from scrolling past your post. Once you grab their attention with your content, then they will review your caption and engage.
Niel Robertson (@nielr1): I think there are two main reasons. 1) To keep getting their content 2) To nudge the algorithm towards showing them more content like this influencer (this is on TikTok more than Instagram). Hope that helps!
Lee Odden (@leeodden)**: Besides consuming the influencer’s content, people and brands follow influencers on social media as a starting point to developing a relationship.
The purpose of that relationship can vary from someone who admires the influencer and wants to learn from them to a brand that wants to understand if the influencer might be a fit for a collaboration project. Many influencers in the B2B space are also consultants or work for companies that offer solutions. People will follow them to see if the influencer or their brand are a fit.
And now – I will answer, as promised:
N.G. Gordon (DearMishuDad): Mmmmm….it is true that many SMI are content creators indeed, especially nano and micro-influencers. Those bring amazing super interesting with great point-of-view and original content:
But so are many non SMI, so we cannot say that SMI=Content and that’s it… The truth is that many SMIs are not content creators – most mega-SMI don’t even have the time for that (it takes on average 3 days to create SMI original content) – they just take a mediocre picture, insert themselves into it, and voila – they’ll still bring value to their followers as SMI.
If we can generalize in any way it is to say that most SMI are community builders, or community leaders too.
**See what N.G., Neal, David, Lee, Pieter, Tom and others had to say in our Not all influencers are unethical, fake, or overpaid… Dear Mishu & friends tell it like it is roundup.
What do you think?
SMI* = Social Media Influencers