I recently went to a networking event full of social media influencers — YouTubers, bloggers, Instagrammers, etc. As I walked around talking with these new faces I noticed one thing missing from the conversation — a number. Kidding of course, but in a way I felt like I was walking around with an invisible “how many people follow me” number over my head. Of course, I’m taking it to the extreme, but with so many influencers in a room how could they not consider the question? I was happily engaged in many fun conversations with new and seasoned bloggers and noticed once they went to my Instagram they perked up even more when they saw how many followers I have. Are we defined by the number of followers we have? Absolutely not. Yet somehow it is in our human nature to make it a bigger deal than it needs to be.
If we take a look at this strictly from a brand’s perspective those numbers can hold a lot of merit. Brands see your number and immediately start determining your reach. While this is helpful there are so many other important factors to consider like authenticity and engagement. I want to be known for more than just my number. I want to be known for my authentic personality, my honest opinions, and my heart for others. I would hope that other influencers would want similar.
I’ve noticed trends in various feeds that grow at an exponential rate and sometimes I wonder if a lot of it has to do with that visual representation of your “value.” Followers look at it and determine your level of expertise. I think there are so many assumptions and pre-conceived judgments that we can easily make. Many are complete myths and others grounded in reality.
Here are some of the assumptions about influencers that could be made from people with large followings:
1.They are successful and passionate at what they do.
If I go to a feed with a huge amount of followers immediately the word “success” comes to mind. I see the drive behind what got them there and assume they are passionate at what they do. I also believe that they have become so accomplished at what they do that they are an expert in their field of work. It is an inspiring reality to see so many successful women in the blogging world. I love to see how it becomes a motivation for other #girlbosses to work hard and pursue their dreams.
2. They have a big ego.
Can I please bust this myth right here and now? I certainly hope this isn’t the case, but with so many people following you, some might be quick to assume that the larger the following the bigger the celebrity complex. Ego can often get in the way of what we post on social media. We often present ourselves to others in a way we want them to perceive us. Although the celebrity complex can sadly be true, we can alternatively find hope that so many influencers remain humble. Those that do certainly bust this myth.
3. They don’t have time for me.
This is partly grounded in reality. The more engagement that an influencer gets, the more likely it is for them to appear out of reach to their following. Even with my reach of over 30,000 followers, I find it difficult to stay on top of engaging back with each comment I receive. My heart is completely wanting to connect with so many beautiful people who take the time to write thoughtful comments and compliment me. I certainly try my best to make time for each one!
Alternatively, here are some assumptions that can be made from people with small followings:
1. Their content isn’t that great.
I have seen so many smaller bloggers have amazing feeds, and I sit there wondering why their following isn’t bigger. Do people really see that small number and make assumptions that their content isn’t great? Personally, if I follow someone it’s because I am genuinely interested in their content. I know that the value of a person does not revolve around how many people follow them, and I don’t let their numbers deter me from following someone.
2. They are inexperienced or lacking depth of knowledge.
Although many people assume this, should lack of experience be what stops you from following someone? It may be a new account, and yet we must remind ourselves we all started at the same place. (go ahead and check out my feed from the beginning – not so pretty). Someone doesn’t have to have a perfectly crafted feed for it to catch my attention. I am so thankful for the many people who followed me from the very beginning, and my feed was certainly not perfectly crafted then. Yes, it’s true I only had 100 followers, and absolutely I was inexperienced, but thankfully many sweet Insta-friends saw beyond that and followed me because they truly enjoyed my content and saw my potential.
What if I had gone to that networking event and on everyone’s name tag was a number? A number solely based on your social media following. Would I have been treated differently? Would I have begun interacting with others differently? I would like to think not, because it truly was a breath of fresh air to have a conversation with so many amazing women without knowing where they stand in the social community. We as women are worth much more than our social media appearance.
I share my experience to encourage and challenge you; next time you go to someone’s feed, make a conscious attempt to ignore the number and examine who they are as an individual. Read their captions, interact with them personally and read their replies to comments. Appreciate the content they have to offer that doesn’t revolve around that looming number of “Insta-followers”. Discover their personality through social media and you may just find a friend or two because of it. I have met so many great Insta-friends this way and I’m so thankful for these friendships! So remember, my friends, appearances aren’t everything and the heart of a person is truly what’s most important.
I’d love to hear, what makes you want to follow someone on an Instagram account?
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Photo Credit // Samantha Weissbach Photography