Why do WE follow influencers?

The below article was written by our intern and University of Texas student, Ruthie Nathan. I wanted to hear why she follows certain people on social media…Being that I am directly involved in the behavior of consumers following online influencers, I thought she might have some interesting insight into why she follows the people she does….enjoy.

While an abundance of studies have been conducted on how to be a “Successful Influencer” (post frequently, be authentic, engage with your followers, etc.) there is a noteworthy lack of knowledge about the opposite, but equally pertinent, side of this equation. There are thousands of lifestyle bloggers, foodstagrams and #fitspiration for us to choose from, yet we all find ourselves truly loyal to a few key influencers.

Why is this the case? Why is it that I have devoured every archived post of some blogs — and even sometimes memorized the URL, while simply skimming over the contents of another? How can some blogs make us snort with laughter, nod in agreement, and fill our eyes with tears all in one sitting?

Why do WE, the everyday person behind the screen, follow some blogs and not others?

The main thing to consider when analyzing the WHY… is that we shouldn’t really be analyzing at all. This is the first mistake being made by the many journalists and reporters churning out articles about this new industry: they are trying to decipher a behavioral pattern in our social media engagement, and the truth is, there is none.

There is no perfect formula or equation or answer. At the end of the day, we don’t want to follow blogs. We want to follow people.

We want to read and see things that resonate with us; find people we’d love to be our best friends. We want to be entertained, challenged, and inspired. We want to read posts that demand to be screenshotted and shared because we know our mom would love it or we know it would make our co-workers smile. These social media icons weave themselves into our experiences in an authentic, almost inexplicable way. Yes, we have never met them. Yes, we probably never will. But it’s not about who they are, it’s about who they are to us.

We asked around and put together a list of everyone’s top WHAT: What we look for when we follow an influencer*:

*The specifics of this list may differ from person to person, which in and of itself exemplifies the inherent brilliance of influencer marketing.

1. We want to be interested

The first step in choosing an influencer is their content. We want to connect with someone over a mutual passion, whether it’s fashion, fitness, music, DIY projects, cooking, or travel, the key in finding influencers we love is finding the people that love the same things we do — or the things we want to do.

2. We want to be entertained

We look for influencers with strong, authentic voices and tangible personalities. We crave funny, clever writing that jumps off the screen — as personal and casual as if we were talking to our best friend over coffee. We want to read clear, straightforward content with a unique style.

3. We want to relate

We are looking to connect with influencers that post not just about the ups… but about their downs, too. Influencers who are comfortable sharing their successes AND failures make us feel like we can find success too. As human beings we innately seek authenticity.

4. We want to be inspired

We search for influencers we relate to, but also who motivate and inspire us in some way. We are attracted to beautiful photos, intriguing stories, and posts that make us say, “Why didn’t I think of that myself?” We follow influencers that push us to be better versions of ourself, whether that’s being more self-aware, more fashionable, more healthy, or more creative. We are all looking to grow as individuals.

The most important part of this industry is not the WHAT, the HOW, or the WHY. It’s the WE.

WE, the people who scroll through our instagram feeds as a bedtime ritual and watch snapchat stories more than we read real ones, are crucial in the process. We are the backbone to the paradigm of influencer marketing. WE give the influencers their influence, and ultimately, our desires for authenticity and profound connection is what truly determines who we let inspire our lives.