What’s in a name?

Often I get Linkedin requests to join up and I always look first at their profile before accepting the invitation. One of the key things that I look at is the job title. Unfortunately, increasingly that title will include the word ‘Influencer’.

Throughout our life we are influenced by a multiplicity of people, starting with parents and teachers. Others will influence us as we come into contact with them, sometimes positively and sometimes negatively.

So who are these ‘influencers’? Are they really just parents by another name and have people at last started paying mums for being a mum? It clearly needed further investigation.

What confused me was that most of these people were young people with little or no previous experience. However, they purport to be able to influence us in the way we run our lives.

Many of these inexperienced people seemed to have a very large number of social media followers on the various platforms. It soon became clear that this was a prerequisite for being an influencer.

That in itself has produced another industry of follower sales. Companies have sprung up that can sell you any number of followers at a price. The price you pay will determine the quality of the followers. The highest price is paid for live, quality followers.

But higher price is a subjective term. Even high quality followers can be obtained for less than 200 dollars for 10,000. So for less than the cost of your smart phone you can appear to have thousands of followers on all of the main social media outlets.

However, there is another group of people that can get countless followers without the need spend money. These are the celebrities and people in the media. Many people become followers because they are interested in what celebrities do, or because they want to be associated with more famous people.

However, I still couldn’t work out what an influencer did. Surely inexperienced young people with little knowledge of the world cannot be advising the rest of the world how to live their lives. Equally, celebrities are not renowned for their knowledge of the real world!

Then I realised that there was a word missing. The title should read marketing influencer! Those young people are spending their time persuading other people with large numbers of followers to influence the spending habits of social media users.

These young people pay other people to mention products in their social media comments and postings. In return the poster gets money based on their number of followers. At the top end, Kim Kardashian can demand 250 thousand dollars for one posting.

So the influencer business is one where you get paid for influencing others to buy products. Unlike the other influencers in our life who operate largely for good, these influencers operate largely for profit.

Unfortunately, the people most likely to come under the spell of the marketing influencer are the young.

If you want to become a successful influencer then you need a social media presence, a large number of followers, some trite quotes and platitudes to make the followers think you care and product owners prepared to pay you to give a good mention in your posts.

Clearly in an arrangement like this it is never necessary to actually use the product and you obviously cannot make a bad review. Then let gullibility take its course.

Perhaps I am doing this blog thing all-wrong. Perhaps I should buy myself a few thousand followers, take money from companies to say how wonderful their products are and collect some platitudes to give me influencer credibility.

How about ‘sometimes the self-service checkout is no faster than the cashier – follow your own path!’ Is that a suitably thoughtful if meaningless quote for today?

Or perhaps I will sleep easier at night if I continue to stick to expressing my thoughts in the blog and letting people make their own mind up. A few hundred followers who really want to read it are much more satisfying than thousands who don’t even know me!

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