Do You Have What it Takes to Become an Influencer?
Influencers are the new elite of the Internet age. We all want to connect with them, we all want to become influencers. Today I do not want to focus why it is not a good idea to strive to become influential. I will assume that it is perfectly OK to attempt to exert influence online. It certainly has its advantages and I have been suggesting in the past to go after influencers to get their support.
When you take a look at who is really influential these days on the social Web you notice some patterns:
- they have a wildly popular blog or magazine
- they have published a book or more than one
- they lead their own (publishing) companies
- they have whole teams of people who do the work for them
- they mostly do the public appearances like speaking at conferences
- they have worked for so called "Fortune 500 brands"
- they reside in the US or at least in an English speaking country
They may have even more in common, this is just a very superficial collection but it's quite apt. Not all influencers fulfill all of these requirements but when you look at the likes of
- Robert Scoble
- Guy Kawasaki
- Pete Cashmore
- Seth Godin
- Rand Fishkin
you recognize a lot of the traits above.
Additionally they are in most cases
- middle class
- good looking
As we know correlation is not causation, you can become a "black" president these days so it's not impossible to become a black influencer e.g. On the other hand it may be a bit more difficult.
Women tend to get babies and are forced to stay at home more often than men. People "of color" get often judged by their race first, then by their skills.
Just look at the ridiculous amount of people claiming that Obama is a Muslim or not an American citizen at all. A white drunkard or a white womanizer didn't have these problems.
Despite of that you can succeed as well. Ideally you need health, time, money and zero obligations though. Other than that it's quite difficult to influence other people. In case you're chronically ill, fat, homeless or a Gay Muslim Anarchist it's pretty hard to become an influencer. You may argue that after you succeed at influencing people you'll be able to improve your fitness, prosper and let others forget your sexual, religious or political affiliations. That's also true to some extent.
Still getting well known and making believe like you depends to a large part on you being like them.
Looking at my Klout score or other influence metrics you might assume that I am influencer myself. So why do I complain? Well, aside the fact that Klout rather measures the social media activity than the actual influence I stopped wanting to be an influencer somewhere along the road. I'm not a Gay Muslim Anarchists but I'm not mainstream enough to be likeable for a large group of people. I'm white, male and middle class and I may be even good looking (at least not that bad to scare people off) but I don't live in the US, I'm not even a native speaker of English.
I didn't have the time to write a book yet, I don't have the money to employ a team to do the groundwork for me while I parade at conferences. Indeed I do not even want to pay people to work instead of myself, I want to stay independent.
I want to stay a person and not solely become a personal brand known to be known like a celebrity.
I noticed that I am not the ideal candidate for an influencer a while ago. Also I noticed that there is another role I can fulfill pretty good with much less of an effort, that of a connector. I love connecting people. I even remember as a youngster introducing people from two nations that were at war to each other a lot to make them talk. There never was even a brawl.
There are plenty of other roles beyond influencer and connector. Find out what's yours and do not try to become like somebody else.
On the other hand: do you have what it takes to become an influencer? Then go for it.
*Creative Commons image by Ken Yeung.