What the Hell is an Influencer?

Because I’m trying to become one

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Have you been influenced? (Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash)

Lately, I’ve been trying to be bold. Sometimes when I write, I say “I think” and “I feel” a lot and I hate being wishy-washy. So I’ve been trying to be more opinionated. I’ve been making a lot of absolute statements.

Yesterday, I made this statement:

“I don’t want to be an “influencer.” I detest the word and everything it stands for. “

Cool, right? I’m not shy about my opinion. I felt good about it. Then I got this comment from the delightful Tabitha Wasserman:

“I like the general message. I am just genuinely curious as to what you think an influencer is/does.

Creating buzz around yourself to be able to sell products will make you an influencer. You’re sounding like (example time) the kind of person who thinks the only way to be a feminist is to burn bras and detest men when really that’s more like misandry and also an extreme out of all the people who can acknowledge that they’re feminists.”

Oh my goodness, she disagrees with me! How dare she?

Yeah, I didn’t react that way. I’m not a dick.

“I guess my language was a little strong. What I don’t like is people reading a few books and are all the sudden an expert or authority. I’ve seen it happen with too many people. I guess I have no problem with people like Neil Patel and Gary Vee helping others achieve goals by being an influencer.

The word has been cheapened, and there needs to be a better term.”

But, I started thinking about her comment, and I couldn’t get it off my mind.

What is an influencer to me? Do I even know?

What is an influencer?

My opinion is that an influencer is anyone who presents themselves as an expert or authority. Then they attempt to influence others to their way of thinking. In the process, they can make money from suggesting certain products.

I don’t like it when people do a few internet searches and start telling everyone to listen to their opinions.

If anyone is handing out advice, they should be a true expert from experience.

It turns out my definition was wrong, but I wasn’t far off.

“An influencer is an individual who has the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of his/her authority, knowledge, position or relationship with his/her audience. (It is) an individual who has a following in a particular niche, which they actively engage with. The size of the following depends on the size of the niche.” — Influencer Marketing Hub

“…influencers are individuals or sometimes small groups that exert an influence over a certain group of people through their online presence. In marketing, these people can be used in a variety of ways to promote a brand.” — Hyprbrands

“An influencer is someone in your niche or industry with sway over your target audience. Influencers have specialized knowledge, authority or insight into a specific subject. Their pre-existing presence in a niche makes them a useful launching pad for brands in search of credibility.” — Sprout Social

And for a completely negative definition, you can always count on Urban Dictionary:

“A makeup, hairstyle, or fashion blogger who is instafamous only on Instagram or buys “followers” and “likes” and gets free products from companys who fall in their trap of fake fame.” (The errors are their own. Urban Dictionary needs to get better quality people writing their definitions.)

I wasn’t far off, but I was shooting too narrow. You don’t have to be an expert to be an influencer. You have to have a sizeable audience that believes everything you tell them. I guess there are quite a few Instagram Influencers that are not an authority but have enough pull in the marketplace. They make an impact on an audience for a product or service.

Why do I hate the term, “influencer?”

I hate the term because as I said, it has been cheapened.

But, I do like some influencers. I love Neil Patel, Brian Clark, Seth Godin, Jon Morrow, and Gary Vaynerchuk. They know what they are talking about from experience. And, they use their influence to help others create success.

What I don’t like is someone reading one book, buying a bunch of followers, and throwing shit against the wall to see what sticks. I could do with far fewer of these dime-store experts. I get a bad taste in my mouth when I think of them (I hope you didn’t assume I would name names? Again, not a dick!)

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Not a dick! (Photo by Charles 🇵🇭 on Unsplash)

I guess you could say what I am trying to do with my brand, is position myself as an influencer. I am going to talk about things with which I have experience. I’m going to explore web design, blogging, content creation, writing, and mental health.

I shouldn’t have such a negative reaction to the word, but I can’t help it. Can we come up with a new word? I liked “authority” when it was a thing, but it went by the wayside.

Can we break it up? Can we call the instafamous “influencers,” and call the experts something that describes them better? Can we go back to “experts?”

Does anyone feel like I do? Am I the only one?

Am I, in fact, just a dick?

Introverted essayist and fulltime YouTuber | Dreamer - I am doing it my way and it might take a bit longer. Don't wait up.

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