Social Media Basics: Understanding influence by @SarahArrow



by Sarah Arrow | Featured Contributor

In working out whether to market your business on social media platforms you need to understand how influence works in the real or offline world.

Back in those long dark days before the web, people asked each other for recommendations and advice when they made a major purchase.  That’s part of being human; we’re social creatures and we’re influenced by other human beings especially ones that we like and admire. We associate certain aspects of success with the items we see successful people using.

  • Hollywood film stars that use a Prius show they care about the environment and influence their followers and fans.
  •  A popstar uses a certain toothpaste to enhance their smile and those that desire the same sparkly smile seek out the same toothpaste
  • A school run mum gets back into her jeans a week after her baby is born and parents looking to lose a few pounds want to know her secrets
  • A child consistently gets good marks in school tests. It’s known that the mom gives the child a supplement. But which one and in what dose?
  • A person with an engaged Twitter following uses a certain tool. If we use it, we feel our following will become more receptive to our ideas.

As human beings we want to share the good fortune of successful people, we want a sliver of their success to rub off on us and by looking at what they use and why, we feel we can attain that success ourselves. Even if in our hearts we know that it’s not just the product or tool but a lot of hard work, we still feel the influence when we have a need or desire to be stronger in a given area.

As social creatures we share the good, the bad and the ugly about our purchases and experiences with the people we know and care about.

If we have a great experience we want everyone to share that experience, we want them to feel as good as we do  – we want to use out influence to make others happy. The same happens when something goes wrong and we have a bad experience. We instinctively want to protect the people we love and care about from having a horrible time. We want to save them their money.

Does that mean social influence is bad? Evil? Capable of destroying businesses? No, no and yes are the immediate answers to the questions I’ve just posed, but nothing is ever that simple, so let’s go a little deeper.

Social influence isn’t good or bad, it just is, like a black hole in space, it’s just there; part of the universe.  However, social media and social influence will amplify a bad service and poorly run business very quickly. If you have a rock solid business, with staff that can identify and share your core values you have nothing to worry about.

If you have a shoddy product and no support, I hate to say it; you’re asking for trouble. Social influence will wreck your business just as it would have done before the web.  It’s just that the process is a whole lot quicker now.

How much a customer can be influenced depends on a multitude of factors (yeah nothing in marketing is ever easy). Often the product itself is considered to be the only factor, but in truth there are lots of factors.

No influence required: Small purchases usually under the $20 mark for personal use. Things like what shampoo, what toothpaste and other low cost items that are for your personal consumption. There’s usually little risk in these purchases meaning that if you don’t like the brand of toilet tissue you’ve purchased you can throw it the bin and think nothing of it (other than you’ll not purchase it again).

Now imagine you’re making the biggest purchase of your entire life – your home. You might want to visit the house several times before you make a purchasing decision. If the property needs some work you may take people like your parents and siblings to get their opinions. You may consult with tradespeople to work out the costs involved in fixing the place up and of course you’ll talk to your finance and mortgage company. When making this major purchase you’ll seek advice from multiple people to make the right decision.

The most glorious new home in the world will not be purchased if it’s filled with woodworm and the influencers surrounding you have all had negative experiences in dealing with woodworm.  Yet if one person in that sphere of influence has dealt with woodworm successfully and you have an emotional connection to the house, their influence will overcome all of the others.

As we can see, influence in the social arena isn’t as cut and dried as we’d like and many factors come into play.

Influence happens with almost every type of purchase but more so when there is increased risk involved and more expenditure. Consumers seek out others who’ve made the same decisions as they’re looking to make prior to making purchasing decisions, and what they find influences the decisions they make.

When you know and understand this, you are already head and shoulders above other businesses using the social arena to market their business and over the next few months I’m going to share with you some information that will change how you market using social media for the better.

Who am I to share with you this information? According to Top Rank Blog I’m an influential UK blogger,  with a 6 figure transport business that’s marketed solely online. I’m the author of several bestselling Amazon social media guides and I’m the creator of Birds on the Blog, one of the biggest multi-author sites for women outside of the US. In short, I have some influence in multiple niches and I’ll share how to use it to get results in your business.

Over to you – who influences you and why?


Sarah Arrow, Niche blogging and Social Media

Sarah-Arrow she owns itBlogging an issue for you? Social media not quite working how it should be? I started out as a transport blogger for a same day courier company, and grew into a kick-ass blog coach as well as creator of Birds on the Blog (listed 3 times by Forbes as a top 100 website for women).

You want your blog to make a difference, so subscribe here and stay in touch, my updates will help you connect the dots.

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8 Replies to “Social Media Basics: Understanding influence by @SarahArrow”

  1. sally

    “If you have a shoddy product and no support, I hate to say it; you’re asking for trouble.”

    Well said, Sarah. Couldn’t agree more with this statement and yet so many fail at this in social media. maybe they think a glossy promotion with dodgy social proof examples will hide it?

    1. Sarah Arrow

      There are some people who think social media is the tool to cure all marketing problems, but you have to be in a good place to start with.

  2. Anita

    Hi Sarah,

    Very interesting way of looking at understanding influence, thank you for sharing your wisdom with us.

    Reviews are so important aren’t they. When I publish my next book, I will be working on building reviews as I think its essential.

    1. Sarah Arrow

      Hi Anita, thank you for your comment. I can remember reviewing your first book :). Whether the book is on Amazon or another site, the reviews help the author make sales, so yes they are important

  3. Sarupa Shah

    For me people who tell it how it is with a few warts ‘n all influences me but recently even though this may appear un-PC, I am influencing me more than anything as I find that looking outwards at others can spin me fast on the spot – as there is something about being empowered to be your best and not mimic others…of course learn but I need to influence me more than anything 😉

    1. Sarah Arrow

      Influencing yourself is a great place to start – thank you for sharing that insight!

  4. Jackie Walker

    Thanks for such a meaty post Sarah. My influencers change and evolve. I’ve learned to discern and have a small group of people who cover various topics and I’ll pick the most relevant. I choose according to the information they share, how they interact on social media and I take time to observe whether the person behind the public face is one I’d get on with. Naturally you are one of them!

    1. Sarah Arrow

      I love that point – how influencers change and evolve. Our influencers change over time. A teenager will not be influenced by the same person who is 60 and about to retire… unless they are bothe Justin Bieber fans 😉

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