Infographic: How does influence work on social media?

Nov 27, 2017
Question of the Day, Purchase Decisions, Advertising

A good question to ask students to get the conversation started about how social media is influencing their buying patterns. 

How does influence work on social media (from Visual Capitalist, which has an awesome infographic explaining this phenomenon):

Power users who create a lot of content and amass thousands – even millions – of fans on a platform find themselves in a unique position. Their influence is worth something more tangible than likes; it’s worth some serious coin.

On the flip side of the equation, fans generally understand that influencers use sponsored posts as their compensation for creating content. A contemporary analogy would be occasional commercial breaks in exchange for a “free” TV program. The audience knows there’s no free ride, but if the network goes overboard, or the advertisers don’t align with the show properly, the reciprocity breaks down.

Similarly, influencers know that endorsements use up “credit” they’ve built up with their audience, so the successful ones choose their brand relationships wisely and don’t go overboard on sponsored posts.

Here are three questions to pique your students' interest with answers from the infographic:

  • How much do top celebrities get paid for sponsored posts on Instagram?


  • Which platform has biggest influence on shopping habits?

  • What top brand categories use influencer marketing?

Reflection questions:

  • Have you ever been purchased something based on the recommendation of a social media influencer? If so, explain in detail what you purchased, who the influencer was and why their recommendation encouraged your purchase? 
  • Why do you think that luxury brands are particularly interested in investing in social media influencers? 
  • Are there certain items that you purchase that an influencer would have little to no impact on our decision of what to buy? 
  • Do you ever informally tell your friends about brands/products that you love? Has it had any impact on their buying decisions? 


For more on this topic, check out Danielle's post, Have you ever been influenced by a social media influencer?



About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.