Blogger vs Influencer

For a few years now, when I tell people that I blog I’m usually asked 2 important questions:

  • How can I start blogging?
  • How can I make money blogging?

The first question is easy.  Go to, create an account, and start writing.  That’s all blogging is, really.  The second question was best answered by Tom Hollingsworth (@networkingnerd):

How to make millions blogging? 1). Become a millionare 2). Start blogging

So, what does that have to do with being an influencer?  Well, an influencer is someone that people trust in order to hear what they have to say about certain products.  Bob Vila was an influencer.  So was Chuck Norris.  These people have proven that they know their stuff, so when they talk about products, you will probably listen.

Influencer The problem is, people seem to think that influencer’s should be measured based on the number of people that will listen (or have listened).  Well, Jake Ludington believes it shouldn’t be measured this way.  And he is right.  As a blogger, you just care about how many people are reading, sharing, and enjoying your writing.  Influencing someone, however, means that someone will actually act on what they learned.  Maybe they tell a friend of theirs what they heard, which results in a purchase.  Perhaps they will purchase something themselves.

Do I write to be an influencer?  Certainly not.  I’m a blogger.  I don’t get to assign myself an “influencer” title.  You, as a reader, give me that title, and ONLY on a per post basis.  I’m only an influencer, if I helped you with a strategy or product that you needed.  After that, I’m back to being a blogger again, until you make a decision based on another post I write.

What is Jake talking about?  Consider this…… Let’s say EMC get’s Martha Stewart (who has 3 Million followers) post a few tweets about their Data Domain product.  According to how we are measured by marketing, that should be a huge win!  But, is it? Why not?  Okay, that was a low blow, and an obvious use-case.  Let’s see…. what hits closer to home.  Ahhh…. what about TWiT?  Would they be a good influencer for Data Domain?  After all, they are a “tech” show will a HUGE following.  I still say no, because the audience is mostly consumers, and not Enterprise Strategists for storage.  It *does* build “awareness” of the product, but not “influence”.

Back to Jake’s post, he brings up several questions that make up a good “influencer”.  To be an influencer, someone needs to trust that you know what you are talking about, and that you are targeting the correct audience to fulfill a sale or strategy at some point.  Have a read on his post.  Do you agree?  Disagree?

Influencer Affinity image courtesy of Stefano Maggi via Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

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  • Dana

    This reminds me of an issue I see all the time with the metrics often used to measure tech support center performance. Pretty much every support center is measured by how many tickets they open and how quickly they close them. This is, at best, only loosely coupled with the quality of the support the customer actually receives, and it assumes that every ticket closed is a customer problem solved. Anyone who’s actually called a TAC center knows this is clearly not true.

    I completely agree with the idea that being influential is generally more important and useful than just getting a lot of hits on one’s blog, but I can also see that measuring the former is much harder than the latter. Unfortunately, the prevailing business approach of “managing by the numbers” doesn’t like hard. It likes quick, easy metrics that can be dumped into spreadsheets.

    • Aaron Paxson

      Good points, Dana. Sometimes, if the measurement is too hard to find, use the measurement of least resistance. :)

  • Vladan

    Even though I don’t like the word “influencer” I fully agree that a professional blogger needs to know the stuff they write about. That’s why they also call it “niche” blogging which is specific, more targeted and the audience is more oriented (knowledgable) about particular topic. Usually as an IT blogger you can technically prove that you know your stuff with certification exams (VMware, Cisco, Microsfot…) so your audience can actually verify that you know what you’re talking about…

    • Aaron Paxson

      You make a good argument, Vladan. That’s why I liked Jake’s post so much (linked in my post). Being an influencer is much more than just writing. It’s engaging with people and companies.

      • augenthaler

        Yes, but so many brands, companies lose sight of that. All they see is are the surface stats like “reach” (I dislike that term). Influence is ultimately what matters.

  • Tim Crawford

    Great post Aaron! It’s good that this issue is finally starting to take light. Far too many people (i.e.: companies) simply look at social metrics as a measure of effectiveness…and implied influence. Neither may be true and don’t directly relate to influencers.