I just came across a quote in an eMarketer interview with an agency CEO that made me stop and shake my head:
“We don’t start to work with an influencer unless they have 50,000 combined followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.”
This thinking is soooo backwards and lazy. Picking an influencer isn’t about the size of their network, it’s the connections they have to that network. I once wrote a post, and shared it on Twitter. I had two people RT my link:
1 – An ‘influencer’ with over 80,000 followers on Twitter.
2 – A friend with 15,000 followers on Twitter.
The ‘influencer’ sent a grand total of THREE visitors to my blog. The friend with 80% fewer followers sent over 300 visitors to my blog.
Why? Because even though the friend had a far smaller network, her network trusted her and the content she shared. I’ve been actively tracking referral traffic from Twitter for years, and I find that the people that send me the most referral traffic tend to have between 5,000 and 20,000 followers on Twitter. At that size they are following fewer people and can develop more relationships and connections with their followers. Influencers with between 20,000 and 100,000 followers typically send LESS traffic to my blog.
So does that mean that number of followers is meaningless when evaluating which influencers to work with? No, but it’s far less important than the levels of engagement that the influencer has with their audience. And you have to dig deeper than just looking at RTs or Likes. Look at how many comments they get. Also look at how often they reply to followers and engage them. You want to work with influencers that have a larger following, but who also are engaged with their following. If I had to chose I’ll take working with the influencer with 15,000 followers that gets a ton of engagement with her network over the other influencer with 75,000 followers that never engages with or gets replies from his network.
Numbers aren’t everything. Remember the whole point of this social media stuff is to be social.