Last Updated on June 8, 2020

Social media platforms give every user a voice, but how many followers do you need to be an influencer? With some well-known influencers attracting millions of followers, you can easily get caught up in the numbers. However, it takes more than likes and follows to make an impact on social media. Let’s consider what it takes to influence others in today’s consumer marketplace.

Aspirational Influencers

Aspirational influencers are the influencers many followers look up to and want to emulate. These individuals are often attractive, successful, and so much fun. We want the products they promote because we hope they’ll make us more like the influencers we idolize. Celebrities and social media models would both fall into the category of aspirational influencers. These influencers typically have millions of followers because they’re well-known personalities or good-looking individuals.

Authoritative Influencers

Authoritative influencers are influencers with a special knowledge about the topics they post about. When a personal trainer discusses her own fitness regimen, you trust that her process will get results.

Related: I live in [INSERT COUNTRY NAME HERE], can I join as an influencer?

Similarly, when a chef raves about a new food product he loves, you want to add the item to your own dishes. Authoritative influencers can have relatively small numbers or large numbers of followers depending on their public profiles.

Peer Influencers

Peer influencers are social media users. We don’t see them as any more knowledgeable, attractive, or interesting as we are. Instead, these influencers position themselves as friends or as members of our community.

While peer influencers typically have the smallest number of followers, they can be the most influential type of influencers. We may want to be like the aspirational influencers and benefit from the experience of authoritative influencers, but the desire to keep up with our peers is much stronger. Research reveals that 3% of people would consider buying a product endorsed by a celebrity, but 30% would think about purchasing a product recommended by a peer or non-celebrity. Peer influencers may have the smallest group of followers, but the bonds they build with those followers makes them truly influential.

Do Numbers Really Matter?

While the number of followers you have matters to a certain degree, numbers themselves do not provide the full picture. The State of Influencer Marketing 2019 report found that less than 25% of marketers felt distribution was the most important factor for a successful influencer campaign. Many of the marketers named audience relationship as the most important factor, followed by content production. As a result, many modern marketers prefer working with influencers with smaller social media followings.

“Their lack of fame is one of the qualities that make them approachable,” explained Sapna Maheshwari of The New York Times. “When they recommend a shampoo or a lotion or a furniture brand on Instagram, their word seems as genuine as advice from a friend.”

Marketers also trust that the people following peer influencers have a genuine interest in their message. Fake followers are the leading concern among influencer marketers, according to several key industry research sources. This finding is not surprising as research suggests that 14% of North American Instagram influencer budgets were wasted on fake followers last year.

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Since peer influencers tend to have smaller follower numbers, the likelihood that these individuals are purchasing fake followers to boost their numbers and attract marketers is small.

Many social media users become fixated on their numbers and continually ask, “How many followers do you need to be an influencer?” Being an influencer is more about your connection with your followers than about how many followers you have. If you have anyone listening to you and connecting with your message, you’re an influencer.

How to Grow Your Followers the Right Way

Buying followers may boost your numbers and initially attract marketers, but without real engagement, they’ll be unlikely to stick around. Instead, focus on attracting genuine people interested in your social media account and the type of content you create. The following strategies should help you boost your numbers with genuine followers:

  • Promote your social media usernames: If people find you on one platform, they should be able to easily find you on another. If you write a blog or have a personal website, post your social media usernames on those places too. Look for opportunities to promote your social media accounts, such as #FollowFriday posts, that encourage group members to share.
  • Update regularly: Every post you make is an opportunity to attract new followers. Regular quality posts will also encourage your existing followers to stick around.
  • Use hashtags: Hashtags can take some getting used to at first, but hashtags help like-minded people find your social media accounts.
  • Interact with like-minded influencers: Interacting with like-minded influencers is a great way to grow your reach. Identify popular influencers talking about your interests and leave comments on their posts. Share interesting material you find with your followers. These influencers and their audiences may start following you in return.

While everyone loves “likes,” being a true influencer is about more than the number of people following you. Own your influencer status and take your social media game to the next level with Intellifluence. Become part of this community of influencers and discover new marketing opportunities — no matter how many followers you have — for free today.