Value vs. Popularity: What is More Important in Digital Marketing?

With the advent of social media, the average person has an unprecedented reach to the entire world. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and many others have done an incredible job of providing an avenue for anyone to gain online influence. Once they figure out what they offer that people are willing to pay for, the platforms are there to reach large audiences that were too expensive to do previously. In the past, being popular would carry a lot of value in the in-person, social sense. You might know a lot of people or have a lot of people know you. Geography would dictate where the social currency of popularity would have influence.

When talking about value, the relative worth of something would be determined by what people were willing to trade for it. It could be a solution, product, or service that someone was willing to pay for. At the fundamental level, each party would have something that the other party found valuable and would be willing to do an amicable trade for.

Where value and popularity were more distinct in the past, the way that marketing has evolved in the last two decades has blurred the lines of value and popularity. Now, being popular online, having a lot of subscribers or followers, can translate into real value for those that can increase their popularity online. YouTube will pay you based on how many views your videos get. Companies will sponsor you based on how many subscribers' feeds you can get their product into on Instagram.

Being able to connect with people used to be an art. Before it was more widely understood, the skill of connecting to people was something you had or didn't have. Over time, incorporating psychology, sociology, anthropology, and even economics, has turned this art into a science. As marketing techniques evolve to be more sophisticated, having an understanding of popularity and value will prepare you for success whether you're the marketer, or the one being marketed to. 

Sex Never Gets Old But You Do

Instagram is full of fit and beautiful girls in bikinis or sexually suggestive outfits. The sexier the outfit or the sexier the post, the more followers and likes that profile will gain. The same could be said for ultra fit guys pitching a work out program. With consistent posting, Instagrammers could gather tens, or even hundreds of thousands of followers. When companies want to promote their product, they will look for profiles with large subscriber bases. These profiles already have the validation and credibility with their subscriber base so it's an easy foot in the door.

More over, they'll look for specific profiles that will fall in line with the values the products stand for. Whether it is health, beauty, fitness, or energy, companies will partner with certain Instagram users to ride on their popularity to reach their subscriber base. They will usually have a designated code to track the referral back to the Instagram profile so that profile owner will get a percentage of the whatever the product sells for.

Something that these Instagram influencers have to be aware of is that their sex appeal will last for a while as long as they take care of themselves. However, Internet users are fickle. If you're not consistently providing what they're looking for, your sex appeal may not be enough for others to go out and buy the product.

Know Your Product Timeline

If someone is able to leverage his or her popularity and subscriber base, it's such an amazing thing! The first time some sort of revenue or pay off comes in, they might feel like they've been blessed with a goose that lays golden eggs. This may last for a little while, or possibly even a long while. But without fail, unless what someone is offering continues to provide ongoing value, that person's popularity and appeal will surely fade over time.

That being said, a person should set some sort of expectation for himself or herself, preferably a realistic one, of how long they plan on using this particular method of popularity based value generation to support them. For example, if a fitness model's goal is to generate a huge subscriber base based on her pictures exercising or traveling to exotic destinations, she better make sure that she's fit, has contracts in place for continued sponsorships with product lines, or is simply making and saving enough for the inevitable day that the gig is up or is no longer viable.

The biggest mistake that anyone can make is forgetting the fickle nature of consumers armed with virtually limitless information playing the role of judge, jury, and executioner in the court of public opinion. By its very definition, the coolness factor of something has a timeline built into it. The coolness factor reaches a peak and starts declining over time. As the old adage of "always keep them wanting more" applies, once something really starts to pick up, it's already time to start moving onto the next thing iteration or gimmick before the decline starts.

If you can be like an airplane at cruising altitude in the way that you come up with ideas and offerings for your audience, you can just keep flying high. Otherwise, waiting until the wave of popularity dies out will cause you to expend a tremendous amount of energy to get back up to cruising altitude again.

Is What You Offer Timeless?

With time being such an invincible force in the dynamic of popularity, what is the best way to have time be on your side when it comes to marketing and reaching out to your audience? What you provide or offer would have to be something that fills a continuous need. What are some of the basics? Food, Sleep, Sex, Water, Air. So far, no one has tried to directly corner the market on air (and I hope no one ever does because that would mean that society and the planet as a whole has reached a pretty dark and dismal place).

When it comes to these basics, little to no marketing is needed to inform people about the importance of these essentials in your life. Most of the time, marketing for these basics come down to trying to show which one is a better option. For example, there are so many different brands of bottled water but they are all, essentially just water to serve the purpose of keeping you hydrated. But there are so many brands, Fiji, Voss, Arrowhead, Dasani, Smart Water and each of these brands use marketing to differentiate themselves from the others. It's the same thing for toilet tissue. There is absolutely no question that everyone needs toilet tissue and the different brands out there, Charmin, Angel Soft, Cottonelle, etc, are all competing for your dollar.

At the end of the day, the value that something or someone offers doesn't come down to the actual product itself. It comes from the benefit that the products deliver. Is what you are offering constantly, unceasingly offering a benefit, no matter how small or large, to your subscriber base? This is what companies strive to achieve. Providing value through a benefit and offering a great experience while doing so. Essentially, to be timeless, you need to create a positive and lasting relationship with your customers and subscriber base.

A great way to practice that is starting to cultivate positive relationships with your family, loved ones, friends, and any interaction or relationship that you have with people. No doubt, there are a lot of grouchy, disgruntled, rage filled, and even hate-filled people out there. There are even dangerous people out there. The point is not to go out there and just use love and grace to approach every situation. More accurately, the point is to be aware that everyone is coming from a background of specific life experiences that have shaped their view of the world and how they engage the world. This awareness, this inclination to listen and seek to understand before being seeking to be understood is the first most crucial step in forming a positive relationship.

Strive to be a Transformer

Seeking to understand before being understood can be a big leap to make. There is so much noise and distraction trying to compete for our limited attention. The desire for someone to make themselves known, to make themselves heard is an overpowering reaction to not being heard or acknowledged. At some point during a person's life, if they are fortunate enough to experience a moment of openness in a particular situation, they will know the benefit of seeking to understand before seeking to be understood. When the shift in intent happens, going from wanting to be understood to seeking to understand, this is a transformational event because awareness of a dynamic has allowed you to alter how you approach your interactions in life.

This awareness brings more groundedness and it can be an incredible experience, all of a sudden opening up to something that you never knew was there before. What greater value can there be than in bringing this awareness to someone? Could there be something even more impactful than allowing someone to have this awareness? Absolutely! Implementing and incorporating this newfound awareness into a person's life is way more impactful. Showing someone a hammer and nail is virtually useless unless you show them how to use it and what they can build with it!

This is where the relationship comes in. Going back to the proverbial, "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Show a man how to fish and he eats for a lifetime" adage, the most value is shared when you can develop a relationship with someone in the process of showing how to implement or incorporate a benefit into their life! Their life is transformed; their life is altered in a positive way that allows them to be more fulfilled, effective, and results-oriented!

There is nothing wrong with being popular. It doesn't even really matter about the reason why someone gets popular. For the mutual benefit of a person and the audience they cater to, the best way to have a sustainable run so that you can leverage popularity is by providing value. The more consistent, the more impactful, the more transformational and timeless the value, the longer someone will be able to sustain and grow their popularity. It just goes to show, that even popularity is a function of value in the long term so always make sure that value is a benefit to the audience and subscriber base!

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