True Influence and the Follower Factory

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A recent article by the New York Times, The Follower Factory, exposes what is going on in the world of social media. In short, people can buy followers for nearly a penny per account to portray that they have more influence. I encourage you to read the article here. 

The details will make you cringe. It did for me. And also quite thankful the extent in which the NYT explained what's going on in the virtual world. 

Some key messages to encourage you in your week:

1. Followers

Every account is known as a follower and in this case, not even REAL accounts of REAL people that truly believe in your platform or care to know you more. My tiff is in the use of the word follower over and over. People and their social media accounts are not yours or mine or anyone's possession and more so, one we can buy to portray a certain image. Yuck. True influence has nothing to do with designated followers. True influence is synergy and humility and it's all done with conviction. No wonder it is all fake-- this model doesn't work. 

2. Pennies

For the "cost of a penny per follower".... we hear this throughout the article. Investing into people to have influence in culture and society costs-- it certainly costs more than a penny per person. To influence means sacrificing time and money and sleep and self-interest for the sake of others-- and to do so for a far greater benefit than self. People are not followers that can be bought, especially by a penny per person. I'll use it again- yuck. 

3. ROI

The more followers they have, the more money they make. To purchase followers for a penny per person and then to make loads of money off of them-- yuck. The challenge here is that many of us will never "buy" followers on social media but do we become something else or drop a conviction to get the ROI? It is so tempting to view social media in this way. 

This article gives us a glimpse into true influence while exposing the flaws of this model. Influence is not about mass, fake followers purchased with a penny to create magnified ROI for on person. True influence looks like:

- A manager who worked a weekend event so his/her employees could be at home with their children

- A parent in the middle of the night who loses sleep so a sick toddler can rest

- A pastor who sacrifices time away from family to be with a family in need 

Influence invests, costs, and is real.