Like it or not, you Want Influence

Like Would you try a product on the recommendation of someone you don't like?

Like has a bit of a double-meaning these days. Ever since Facebook implemented the "like" button everyone has kicked into high gear to get you to like them.

However, you can agree with a specific thing someone says and like it, while totally disagreeing with their world view. Same thing could happen with a business project vs. the business itself.

Although likability can be borrowed, it is transferred only based on a more permanent philosophical alignment or agreement.

You move in when you can live with that individual. You're eager to show that business association, when it makes you look good on more than one level. Liking, it turns out, is not uni-dimensional.

Is it easy to engineer?

How to win friends and influence people

With respects paid to Dale Carnegie and his work, it's fairly easy to become an influencer. Here are the steps; put some enthusiasm in them, and you're on your way. Now you can get the word out on your blog, be friendly on Facebook, while displaying the most appreciative character on Twitter.

You might even get a few hundred folks to click on your stuff, comment, interact with the agreeable, likable you.

Is this a reflection of true influence?

Look at the evidence

People are doing all kinds of things online. They check out events, catch up with friends, buy stuff they searched for and compared, and encounter serendipitous situations — like for example, coming across people with similar or complementary interests.

They're online, yet they're still people. To understand the role of influence, you need to take a deep dive on purpose and motivation.

How many followers did Mother Theresa have?

Influence is with the influenced

Motivation is a start. There's also another mechanism at play here — because we're social by nature, and cannot possibly know it all, though a few of us do try, we rely on clues from others when making decisions. Say your business is working with an influencial who tells people to buy a certain product, and their friends are telling them to buy another, the friends win.

Mark Earls has done a lot of thinking and writing around understanding the propensity of people to be influenced and what those relationships look like. If you have not read his book, Herd: How to Change Mass Behavior by Harnessing our True Nature (Amazon affiliate link), you should pick up a copy today.

Does likability impact trust?

We're not going to solve the influence question with a post.

In thinking about the increased desire of businesses and individuals to want influence — which by the way is not measured merely in the number of followers — I wondered what happens when likability comes into play. Social networks are exposing the private nature of our offline connections and interests.

And by doing that, they're encouraging a more general approach to information in people — the broader the content in applicability, the greater the network of friends. I do wonder if with that, there is a forced sense of likability — people who are genuinely not really interested in what you say or who you are, who for lack of a better word, suck up to you in public so you buy their wares, so to speak.

Does liking someone make a difference in purchase decision? When I asked: would you try a product on the recommendation of someone you don't like?
on Twitter, something interesting happened.

The first few responses, probably reactions to the question, were in favor of "no" — dislike overpowers authority. Then, after a couple of minutes, the answers changed to more rational responses — if the recommendation was fact-based and sounded credible, one can dislike someone, yet still value their opinions in areas where they
agree, if it's evident the product is working for such a person, wouldn't let the dislike be a show-stopper.

Would you try a product on the recommendation of someone you don't

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0 responses to “Like it or not, you Want Influence”

  1. Generally, no. A recommendation from someone I dislike or perhaps I neither like nor dislike will make me aware of the product/service, but it will take more recommendations for me to try it than it would if a single person that I like make the recommendation.
    @Valeria, what would your inclination be?

  2. I “like” a lot of things and people but that doesn’t really mean it or they influence me. In some degree they might but only if I am actively listening to what they have to say.
    That actively listening part is big. Thousands might follow me on Twitter but far fewer are actively listening. I can’t have influence to those who don’t hear me speak or see the actions that I take.
    Real influence is the kind built on and around trust (wrote a post recently on 14 Ways to Expand Influence). Doesn’t always mean I need to LIKE the person but do I trust them? I can disagree with someone’s worldview, like you said, but if they are an expert in a given area then I might trust them on what they say in regards to that.
    Influence is so dynamic. So many degrees of it. I think one of the best ways we achieve it and become stewards of it is to focus on doing what is right, being people of value and lifting others up along the way.

  3. I doubt I would buy a product that was recommended by someone I don’t like. I agree it might make me aware of the product, but even worse (for the product) it might even turn me off to the product. I guess it also depends on the reasons why you don’t like this person. A jealousy factor might prompt someone to buy something that was recommended by someone they don’t like. I.e. “If they have it I should too.”

  4. I would try a product recommended by someone I didn’t like…if I respected them. For example, if they were an expert in their field, or had a lot of experience with the product in question. I’ve had co-workers like that.

  5. Valeria, you forgot to mention the classic book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini.
    Like-ability does influence trust and ultimately purchase behavior, but it’s a single factor.

  6. Good comments here. One thing I would add is the cumulative effect. Let’s say three people recommend a product to me, all of whom I like a little. Then a fourth, who I can’t stand, recommends the same product. I’m likely to buy the product now due to social proof. At some point the number of people recommending a product has a larger effect than my personal feelings about any one of them. I see this very directly in my business, which is all about recommendations.

  7. I actually accepted the recommendation from someone I didn’t like because I did trust and respect the person. While likability is a major factor, I do not believe it is an element of trust. However is certainly impacts approachability and other issues that may cloud one’s perception of trust.

  8. Klout has a category of people that they call “Specialists” = People who are experts within a narrow field. I think there is some truth to this idea. One is more like to make a purchase where there is (1) likability and (2) some expertise which is part of creating trust, even if it is just “street cred”! Lastly (3) I think motivation is huge here. A likable expert who appears to be only out to make some commission or sale probable won’t perform as well as someone who has some real passion and love for their product.
    Influence equals Likability + Expertise + passion & motivation, in my book.
    I am not a marketing expert nor do I play one on t.v.

  9. Hi Valeria,
    I can’t help but feel your “looking” for re-assurance that its ok to be authentic and it won’t affect your numbers.
    Are you asking (at some level) the opposite –
    Can we see through manufactured “likability” ‘to recognise the cynical manipulation of the human need to like and be liked”.
    I wonder this myself.
    By the way, as a thought experiment I substituted the old fashioned word “power” for “influence” and got me thinking to about another Italian’ s advice on recommendations:
    “wise counsels, from whoever they come, must necessarily be due to the prudence of the prince, and not the prudence of the prince to the good counsel received”
    Shame Machiavelli is not into twitter.
    Always a pleasure.

  10. @Eric – I spend a lot of time observing and processing information and tend to collect enough incremental, absolute and relative data to be able to discern when someone is faking authenticity to be liked/get their way vs. they just come across as self absorbed 😉 Generally, I rely on the recommendations of mentors and teachers, people who are in it for the long haul. Even then, I use my own data/experience to choose.
    @Daniel – you’ve hit on an important point about the dynamic nature of influence. Indeed, as we grow and change, our context and the things that work within it, also change. I was also thinking that often people transfer to themselves the quality the admire in others, for example, they may think they have done something because they were headed that way when in fact it was someone else they emulate. That is also influence, isn’t it?
    @Bryan – herd mentality at work 😉 Online, we get to see how ideas spread. Part of that includes the shifts between liking/not liking and then being on the same side of issues.
    @Scott – would it be fair to say that data and facts can influence a decision over emotional bias?
    @Tom – sort of, I delayed its mention for today’s post. I usually write all my posts on weekends, when I have time and room to think. I have written about customer conversations basing the content on Cialdini’s work, which has indeed influenced the conversation on influence.
    @Lateef – you make a great point simply. That’s why social proof is powerful. We end up seeing (and following) the collective vs. the individual. One of the reasons why it’s good to have a few negative reviews on a product/service is that they reinforce the majority of good reviews.
    @Dave – indeed, we live mostly in the world of perception: we see the world as we are, through our own lens.

  11. @Melody – motivation is huge. I think people are now able to see “selective authenticity”, and they act accordingly. You cannot fake genuine interest when your digital body language says otherwise. And today motivation bubbles up to the surface, the dots will be connected. Well said!
    @Pratap – thank you for the link. We could have used your perspective in today’s #kaizenblog chat (see following post) about influence. Welcome to the conversation.
    @Scott – yes, a lot more than it meets the eye in this post 😉 Thank you for reading and thinking/processing.
    @Peter – I was after the second exploration, yes. Indeed, a real shame Machiavelli is no longer with us. I found another appropriate quote of his for the slide deck on influence today: “for the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were reality, and are often more influenced by the things that seem, than by those that are”. Brilliant thinker, if you ask me 😉

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