Redefining Influence (The One With The Highlights)
ˈɪnflʊəns/ noun / influence; plural noun: influences
- the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself.
- the power to shape policy or ensure favourable treatment from someone, especially through status, contacts, or wealth.
- a person or thing with the capacity to have an influence on someone or something.
effect, impact; control, sway, hold, power, authority, ascendancy, mastery, domination, supremacy, leadership;
It feels like we are currently living in the era of the ‘influencer’, with brands, organisations and media platforms repeatedly discussing the efficacy and shelf-life of having a social status. While the word itself is a buzzword right now, the subject has been discussed for years - ever since Dale Carnegie released his 1937 bestselling book 'How to Win Friends and Influence People’. Yet, nowadays, we’ve replaced the word ‘Friends’ with ‘Followers’.
Recently, my activity has dropped significantly on the blog and my social channels, mostly because I’ve been working round the clock on a new personal project: a biannual newspaper of independent thinking and conscious women (launching next month - watch this space!!). Naturally, I have been panicking about how my reduced engagement as a blogger - or influencer if you will - will impact the interactions I have with my followers. And with this new project, I’ve become even more aware of cultivating the right message with the work that I do.
Then I came across an article by Sharmadean Reid questioning the longevity of influencers and whether they have any real-world influence. That got me thinking about my own scope of influence and whether I really impact anyone day to day. Whilst the social connotations associated with influence might have changed in today’s social marketing climate, I don’t think the true meaning has. With influence, however big or small, comes a certain level of leadership. And with leadership comes responsibility. I’ve been re-evaluating the use of my platform, as well as the way I'm connecting with my audience. What am I asking them to do, feel, think? What’s my ethos? Because the answer to that question defines the level of my influence.
In the current digital landscape, there is no escaping the means that people go to influence one another. There is so much noise out there, and so I implore us all - bloggers and brands alike - to spend time analysing the ways in which we hope to impact people. Online audiences have become both smarter and more impatient. They can sniff out fake methods of communicating with them in a heartbeat, and demand authentic connections to made if any real influence is to be had. With the anonymity that comes from interacting with one another through screens, we often forget that behind every like and comment is a real human being and your job as an ‘influencer’ is to connect to them in a meaningful way. When I look at my favourite influencers, women who are blog or run their own businesses, I see that the reason they have a lasting effect on me is because they add something to my day - whether it be that they entertain me, enlighten me on important issues or show me a world that I do not have access to.
Remember, influence no longer means having a large follower count. With the rise of the micro-influencer, we see audiences connect to niche experts that are more powerful than the average celebrity in their own circle. These types of influencers are the one’s that effectively cultivate brand loyalty and trust because they are able to form valuable relationships with their followers and consistently maintain that. People often forget about the maintenance side of things; the number of times I get asked how to grow on socials quickly but really the question we should all be asking is, “once I get people’s attention what am I going to do with it?” Answering that question dictates how we can maintain influence.
Clearly, taking and posting a pretty picture with no substance is not going to cut it anymore. So with all that in mind, I did a little research and came up with a couple of questions to help us understand our own level of influence - a short inventory of priorities and habits, and a means to continuously grow and reinvent ourselves.
1. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST LIKED/READ/ENGAGED WITH POST AND WHY? Similarly which has been the least like/read/engaged with and why? The results will speak volumes about what you are actually offering people, instead of what you think you are offering people.
2. HOW ARE YOU HELPING YOUR AUDIENCE?
Think about the ways in which you contribute value to their lives. Are providing information, motivation, inspiration? Are you showing them the behind the scenes of a life unknown to them or discounts to the most coveted items? How do you make their day better or easier?
3. WHAT/WHO INFLUENCES THE WAY YOU THINK OR ACT?
In the same way that you can influence people so can you be influenced. Understanding what motivates your own behaviour could be helpful when thinking about motivating others.
4. WHAT GIVES YOU A SENSE OF FULFILMENT OR PURPOSE?
Whatever it is, that’s your USP. Do more of it! Because when your work comes from an authentic place, people will connect with you better and are more likely to pay attention.
5. HOW DO YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED?
When people talk about you, what would you like them to say? Whatever it is, focus on creating a connection with people that will ensure you get that desired response.
Hope this helps. I’ll be back with more posts soon, just bear with me while I get this new publication off the ground. In the meantime, have a browse of some of my favourite posts from this year so far. E x