In this day and age of hyperconnectivity, the world suddenly shrunk as everything seems to be a click away. With this contemporized lifestyle lies a fascinating paradox though – in a snap, our view’s now vicariously enlarged alongside aspirations that are magnified to various degrees and proportions. Thanks to the birth and non-stop mushrooming of social media platforms in this generation that then gave rise to the new niche, concept and media stream – the so-called ‘influencers’.
If we are to define the previously exciting and innovative idea (which now is quite frankly abused and taken advantage of by some), it is simply a marketing term for ‘a person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media’. Yet, as there’s no standardized pre-requisite, gatekeeper criteria or licensure to define or legally bind the hazy science and art combo behind the power of influencer marketing, we are all navigating through murky territories in calming this new domain.
As a marketing and communications professional for more than two decades, I’ve seen how this beast grew. While we purposely ignored it during its infancy, believing that it was just one of those trends that will eventually fade and die down – here we are, facing a true force to be reckoned with, considering that it has overgrown and upstaged the ‘mere fad’ phase in the media landscape. Not to sound cynical nor to imply that I’m 100% for or against it, but I’d like to take an objective, critical and mature stance in gauging what influencers do – and more importantly, how they do it.
With the hopes of opening more minds as we all consume media that eventually affect and sway our thoughts, decisions, behaviors, and actions, I feel that it’s everyone’s shared responsibility to define what a legit influencer should be. And to me, it simply boils down to what this person influences me to know, feel and do.
While influencers are not journalists who vowed to deliver nothing but truth, knowing that they deliver authenticity at its purest sense is my first non-negotiable. Standing for truth is tantamount to an unquestionable principled character grounded in honesty, integrity, and pursuit to respect others. Legit influencers will want their audience to know what’s real and shall take full responsibility to what they convey knowing that they may make or break their followers. Creative messaging or using artistic license as an excuse to appeal and convince people at the expense of hiding reality is a massive red flag to me. If your boyfriend lied to you just to get what he wants, what would you do? Same thing here – it’s just like that!
Assuming the influencers represent an untainted truth, the next step to pass the legitimacy test is to feel what they make you feel. Security, confidence, growth, aspiration, enlightenment, and positivity – these are my bare minimum. If they make me feel the opposite – insecure, incompetent, uninspired, belittled, outraged and negative, I simply choose to opt out as I don’t need such toxicity in life. Remember, you are assessing an aspiring influencer (not a propagandist) who can affect your life – choose the ‘good influence’ who can usher in true growth and development to your short and one and only life.
Indeed, their posts and whispers may have weight, yet legit influencers should never take your power. In every aspect or your life – you should do ‘you’! Thoughts, inspirations, options, decisions, actions, redirections, and changes should all come from your mind and heart – never allow anyone to manipulate you to give that to them. Lastly, sincere influencers should push you to do what’s right and best fitting that will help you achieve your best state – not theirs.
And to all of you creative, innovative, and powerful influencers – hone that gift with humility, use it the right way and let integrity, sensibility, and purpose be your guide in leading flocks to new paths!