Would You Rather Be Influential or Popular – Pick One

Are you influential or popular?

For Galinda, a Wicked witch it’s all about being popular . . .

When I see depressing creatures
With unprepossessing features
I remind them on their own behalf
To think of celebrated heads of state
Or specially great communicators
Did they have brains or knowledge?
Don’t make me laugh!
They were popular! Please –
It’s all about popular!
It’s not about aptitude
It’s the way you’re viewed
So it’s very shrewd to be
Very very popular like me!

Artist: Kristin Chenoweth
Song: Popular


What does “popular” mean?

1490, “public,” from L. popularis “belonging to the people,” from populus “people.” Meaning “well-liked, admired by the people” is attested from 1608. Popularity “fact or condition of being beloved by the people” is first recorded 1601; popularity contest is from 1941. Popular Front “coalition of Communists, Socialists, and radicals” is from 1936. Popularize “to make a complex topic intelligible to the people” is from 1833.

Source: Dictionary.com. Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/popular (accessed: July 09, 2008).

How about “influence?”

c.1374, an astrological term, “streaming ethereal power from the stars acting upon character or destiny of men,” from O.Fr. influence “emanation from the stars that acts upon one’s character and destiny” (13c.), also “a flow of water,” from M.L. influentia “a flowing in” (also used in the astrological sense), from L. influentem (nom. influens), prp. of influere “to flow into,” from in- “in” + fluere “to flow” (see fluent). Meaning “exercise of personal power by human beings” is from 1439; meaning “exertion of unseen influence by persons” is from 1588 (a sense already in M.L., e.g. Aquinas). Under the influence “drunk” first attested 1866. Influential “powerful” is from 1734

Source: Dictionary.com. Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/influence (accessed: July 09, 2008).

Compare and Contrast: popular and influential

Orange: a popular marketing color

“Popular marketing” gets 70,600 Google results

“Influential Marketing” gets 37,300 Google results with two names mentioned most often at the top: Seth Godin and Rohit Bhargava, social media star and Digital Strategist for Ogilvy 360 – could Seth and Rohit also be popular?

How to get to be popular

Set up a popular social media profile

Learn how to hang out with popular people

Share the spotlight with celebrities

How to be influential

Read Influential Marketing Blog

Time lists their version of the 100 most influential people. 

Top 10 Emerging influential blogs project

Social Medial Influence


Tracking Blog Popularity

See how Onalytica measures PR blog influence

Thanks to Brendan Cooper for the inspiration for this post – and for clarifying what the Friendly PR Index is and and is not.

Your Turn: Would you rather be popular or influential?

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