Return On Influence

This past week, we were assigned to read and write a reflection paper on a book called “Return on Influence” by Mark Schafer. When I opened up the book, the first thing tried to tell me was that “we are all just a number”. At first, I wasn’t a fan with the idea that one measly number can summarize my entire being. However, Mark Schaeffer uses his book, Return On Influence, to help his readers understand why this number is so important and how they can improve this number.

When I first started using social media, I was really only interested if my friends followed me back. Even now, I could meet someone in the beginning of the semester and not realize that we don’t connect on any social media platforms until I try and tag them in a picture that I post. I don’t think this is the case for most people because I am noticing how deeply offended people seem to be if someone who they follow does not follow them back. This is why chapter 4, discussing social proof and reciprocity, was so interesting to me.

Schaeffer used an analogy of passing by a restaurant that clearly has a lot of customers, and a restaurant that has noticeably less customers visiting. I never realized that I too would be inclined to go to the restaurant with a larger crowd because my immediate thought is that they must have all of those customers for a reason. However, all that having all those customers SHOULD tell me, is that the wait is going to be long. I made the assumption that because this restaurant had a lot of customers, they must have great food, service, and atmosphere. I thought this was a great analogy in comparing this experience to the choices we make on social media platforms about who to follow.

Saying this out loud makes me feel very unintelligent, just because basing my choices of who to follow off of anything other than their content seems a little ridiculous. However, if I receive a friend request on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, all I really need to see is how many mutual friends we have. I also caught myself exercising this habit when choosing which verified accounts to follow on Twitter. One of my guilty pleasures is looking at accounts dedicated to sharing quick tutorials on different eye makeup ideas and hairstyles. I am very picky when choosing these accounts, and one of the main factors I consider is how many followers the account has. This habit of mine absolutely supports Schaefer’s idea that, online, we are all just a number.

Reciprocity and social proof were not aspects of my social media presence that I even knew that I considered important. However, my decision of who I am going to follow, who I am going to let influence me on a day-to-day basis, is very heavily weighted on these factors. I don’t consider myself a social media guru, so I wasn’t prepared to fall into the same habits that Mark Schaefer, who has dissected the online world of social media platforms, but I very much did. I found this book very informative and I think this would be very helpful for anyone who is hoping to gain influence through social media. I feel like this book would also be very helpful to those who only have a basic knowledge of social media. Mark Schaefer is a very good writer who can appeal to a wide range of readers, and I enjoyed his books very much.

Mr. Schaefer did succeed in convincing me that, when it comes to the world of social media, we are very much just a number. However, I’m a lot happier with this number being the number that represents me instead of my weight, or GPA or bank account balance.



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