An acquaintance of mine was upset by a decision made by an event organizer. They desired a different outcome. The board of the event held a meeting to confirm the decision made by the event organizer. The acquaintance threatened the solid standing of the event by leveraging his significant social media presence to suggest a boycott of future iterations of the event. It was an emotional decision, and clearly, this individual felt strongly about righting a perceived wrong. What they failed to understand was the difference between reach and influence. Their message would reach a large number of people. Nearly all of those individuals did not participate in the event nor did they influence future versions of the event. He could publish a sensational headline, but few people would read the article or more importantly take action.
Mistaking reach and influence is common. There are a vast number of channels through which we can contact our affinity group (Seth Godin would suggest ‘tribe’). The essential question is how many people will act on our behalf. I empathize with numerous challenges faced by individuals. Less frequently do I take measurable steps to help them solve a problem. People must believe what we believe and then see themselves as uniquely positioned to influence the outcome before they take significant action.