Okay, so this might come off as a bit of an unpopular opinion. I actually want to be an influencer. I actually like the term. This isn’t necessarily to say that I agree with what some influencers choose to do, nor is it to say that I necessarily like the current state of influencer marketing. But at least as it applies to me, the term “influencer” naturally resonates with me. Let me explain.
Not a Popular Term?
It would be disingenuous for me to make a blanket statement about every influential figure on the Internet. I will say this, though. Some of the bigger names on the web have spoken out about the term “influencer” and how they don’t like it. Hank Green (or it may have been his brother John) said that he prefers the term “content creator.”
That’s because the term “content creator” better encapsulates their primary purpose or motivation. He says they strive to make great content, and if that content happens to influence someone, then so be it. It was never really about the influence; but rather it was about the connection and the content.
Similarly, in his recent video about the whole Burger King scheme, Casey Neistat said that “influencer” is a “terrible term.” Given this, I get the sense that the term isn’t exactly popular with the YouTuber and content creator crowd. But I like it.
Boiling Down the Question of Why
As egocentric, elitist, conceited or even narcissistic as it may sound, I aspire to be a person of influence. That’s how I “measure” that I matter. And it’s not about the money or the fame or anything like that. It’s something much more profound.
Many career and life coaches will challenge their clients to unearth their “why.” We start with surface aspirations, like we want to make more money or we want to have nice things… but why? As you dig deeper and deeper, peeling away those layers, you start to uncover the real reason why you want any of these things. For me, I’d like to think that the fact I existed made some sort of positive impact on the world.
I’d like to think that my efforts somehow made the lives of the people around me measurably better in some way. Do my words “influence” those around me? Are they taking action based on my opinion? I want my thoughts to matter, to influence, to guide and to educate. “That’s the guy” you ask about this topic or that. And it is from this perspective, as far as I can gather, that I’m motivated to do what I do here on this blog, as well as on social media, and with my books.
So, sure, as shallow or self-absorbed as it may sound, I get a kick when I make a list or get mentioned in some publication. It’s validation. It’s evidence that people are actually paying attention to what I have to say.
Life of an Influencer
On some level, of course, this is little more than a matter of semantics. It’s decidedly related to my struggle on a professional level too, as I choose to be a “freelance writer”, and not a “professional writer” or “journalist.” But terms carry connotations, and they should be as descriptive as possible.
I get it. The term “influencer” has come to carry a lot of baggage with it. Many people see influencers as nothing more than “shills” who’ve “sold out” to make a buck or two. And there are certainly influencers out there who give the rest of us a bad name, from lack of disclosure to an utter disregard for common decency. I get it. Those of us try to stay legit can also struggle with being taken seriously.
But hey, what do I know? I’m just a blogger.
For those of you both within and outside of the “influencer” community, what are your thoughts on the term? Positive? Negative? Do you embrace it or keep your distance?