Is Influence Dead? 20 Influencers Share Their Insights On The State Of Influence Today

04/16/2017 02:58 am ET Updated Apr 17, 2017

Influence.

A word that makes one go gooey inside out.

Over the past decade, perhaps no other word has changed as drastically in its meaning as this word alone.

Influence used to be the Michael Jacksons, the Jordans.

The Jordan Brand

People whose names stood for something they believed in.

A representation of their struggles and their setbacks before they achieved greatness.

These days, it seems, the term influence is simply judged based on entirely different terms altogether.

Wrong terms, if you ask me.

Influence seems to have been scaled down to a simple game of numbers, and how fictitious your life paints out to be.

Of course, I might be biased here. I get that.

But I like to believe that influence is so much more than chunks of powder on your face, being “about the money”, and in general sense, how much more miserable you can make the other side with your huge wads of cash lying around. (Think Dan Bilzerian)

And being the content marketer that I am, I just couldn’t resist exploring this topic further.

When I chanced upon an article talking about the supposed “state of influence” in my home country, Singapore, that was the last straw.

I decided to get a “feel” of what influence truly meant by asking a few influencers who were at the top of their game.

Here are the top 20 replies that I got.

Josh Steimle
[True] influencers will always stand out, and marketers will always be around to hire them.

Robyn D. Shulman | Sr. Editor, 51Talk & Founder of EdNews Daily)

Robyn Stoller-Shulman
Influence is simply a matter of how many lives are changed because of you. Enjoy the journey, give back, and people will notice you and your work.

Tim Semelin | Enterprise Account Director, LinkedIn

Timothee Semelin
Influence is not dead! Quite the opposite, really.

Everyone is an influencer today, with the rise of social media that empowers new voices.

I think going forward we can expect to see different classifications of influencers, from peer influencers, to the influencers, and so on.

Mordecai Holtz | Co Founder of Blue Thread Marketing

Mordecai Holtz
In a world where content production is in overdrive, it’s getting difficult, perhaps virtually impossible for brannds to cut through the noise and stand out from the crowd.

That’s why many brands are turning people into brand ambassadors, who have more influence and a personal perspective to help the company move the needle on consumer decisions.

By shifting marketing efforts around individuals, brands are able to attract, retain and engage with customers in a much longer relationship.

The real differentiation is when a brand really invests in their influencers and values the relationship.

Even though influencer marketing may sound simple, identifying the right influencers and creating the right kind of campaign for their target audience takes a lot of work.

Nik Sharma | Director of Performance Marketing + Hint Water

Nik Sharma
Influence is a word that every brand marketer sees differently from his or her perspective.

Some brands are happy with “mid-tier influencers”, but for others it's the top influencers on each platform.

Other brands simply choose to pay influencers a hefty salary and have them become a brand ambassador, like in the case of Puma and Kylie Jenner.

There's a clear difference between sales, engagement, impressions, and brand recognition when a Puma promotes their new shoe VS when Kylie Jenner promotes a new shoe.

Influencers are highly underpriced and will start to come into heavy demand as paid social media gets more and more crowded.

Yuri Kruman, Master The Talk
Expertise is dead. Influence is born daily and dies again with every new flood of information. Those that anticipate the tides control the message.

Alex Yong | New York Correspondent for Small Business Trends, LLC

Alex Yong

There are verticals that do require influencers to be experts (typically verticals which aren't aesthetics-driven such as smartphones and tablets), and then there are verticals where anyone of any age can become an influencer as long as their presentation skills are impressive on top of having great engagement.

B2B influencers must always have expertise.

Editor’s Note: Interestingly enough, Alex’s point of view differs from Yuri’s. This begs the question: do we need to be an expert in something in order to be an influencer?

Fran Opazo
It really depends on where you are from.

For example, most influencers in Chile are big actors, football players, models.

Big companies still don't know how to develop a relationship with niche influencers, at least not in travel.

Today, influence is not about the amount of followers anymore (numbers that are quite easy to manipulate nowadays) but how you impact your readers to make decisions.

Alex Pirouz | CEO & Founder at Linkfluencer

Alex Pirouz

In today’s highly competitive business world, building influence has never been more important.

We’ve all interacted influential people who have created a strong aura around themselves whether that’s through their external accolades or personal attributes.

The people who have mastered this art whether it be unconscious or strategically are the people who tend to get their way in life.

They get the most opportunities, they land the most deals and they tend to be the most successful. Today people buy into people they know, trust and like.

So much so that nowadays 75% of all buying decisions are made well before the consumer reaches out to you to engage with your services. They do their research online by first Googling your name, then looking through your social network activity/content, reviews or recommendations from other customers and based on, this they will quickly make a judgement on whether or not you are an expert they would like to do engage with.

This process is more formally known as: The Moment Of Truth. So it’s really important that you understand your target market, their problems/challenges, state of your industry and how your product/service fits in with all that before you start building your influence to ensure your personal brand is relevant and targeted.

Bhupinder Nayyar | Co-founder Bameslog

Today, it seems like everyone is a content creator.
Bhupinder Nayyar

While that's great, it does come with its own set of challenges.

For me, influence means making a behavioural change with a positive impact through your expertise.

And it can be possible by engagement and encouraging people to engage through your content which can help you to built a trust-worthy network and help you to distribute content in a simple way to scale that sharing of expertise.

Ashley Galina Dudarenok | Founder of ChoZan

Ashley Galina Dudarenok

Influence isn't dead, it's on the rise around the world!

Just think about it - experts, bloggers, truth seekers, crowed pleasers, live-videos heroes have entered the lives of people across the globe!

China and Korea have the world' craziest Kols market, with bloggers live steaming their evening meals and teaching how to choose the right baby powder.

US is huge on experts and content marketing, where more and more professionals and business owners work on their "public persona" and "public influence" in order to spread the ideas and promote their businesses.

Even conservative markets like Russia and CIS countries have a ton of popular influencers that teach and preach business, phycology, share bad-economy-survival-tricks and more.

Europe is also entering the stage with great influencers - chefs, journalists, political thought leaders and more. Influence is power.

In this world of 'too much information' , Influence is the antidote, the 'opportunity to be heard". It's no longer optional for business people.

If you want to stay relevant in this business environment in a long run, you should start building your influence now - to reap its benefits down the road.

Kim Leitzes | CEO of ParkLU, China Influencer Marketing Platform

Kim Leitzes
We have always traded on trust and word-of-mouth.

What’s different about influence today is how far and fast it reaches with social media. Imagine having higher status on airlines just because you had more followers.

In digitally advanced markets like China where so many business and personal interactions happen over WeChat, your online social currency is tethered to your offline world.

This future is not far away – we are living in the influencer economy.

Fahad Mohammed , CEO of Bay Street Brands

Fahad Mohammed

To reach the stage of Influence, you have to listen to the problems your audience is experiencing and offer your perspective and help guide them to solve their problems.

The art of Influence is developed through having conversations and engaging with your audience digitally or holding Meet and Greets to strengthen the bond in real life.

Previously, corporations were the influencers and gatekeepers to an industry; but now the real Influencers are everyday people like us that have shown that if we earn the trust of an audience, the tables are turned.

We become the ones that have the upper hand.

With Millennials and Gen-Z’s quickly emerging in the market, brands and corporations are having trouble figuring out how to market to these large groups, and as a result are seeking individuals that have the ability to influence and captivate an audience to help solve this problem.

Pearl Matibe | Pearls of Wisdom, Author, Speaker & Blogger on Medium.com

Pearl Matibe

In order to influence and impact others to agree with our facts, share our values, accept our argument and conclusions, and adopt our way of thinking, you will need to use persuasive language to convince strategically.

It may even be a hostile audience — ‘How do you shift their focus or tactfully refute the opposition?’ and ‘What if the opposing arguments have already convinced other people?’

Arne Giske | Host of The Millennial Entrepreneur Podcast & Community

Arne Giske
Influence is far from dead - the real key is having two sided conversations, not just broadcasts.

The art & science of connecting with people online is a fragile one, and if you can't make yourself memorable at scale and build real relationships at the same time, it's going to be a tough journey.

Leonard Kim

Influence starts with love. You only truly have influence if you:

1. Have a story others can relate to

2. Create a connection with others 3. Encourage them to pursue their dreams

Only by putting others before yourself, do you truly have influence.

Eric Christopher | CEO of BizFamous

Eric Christopher

It doesn't matter if your audience is a single person, or millions of people... If you aren't sharing your stories, connecting with others and believing in them, then yes. Influence is dead. Well, for you at least.

Influence is evergreen. It will never, ever die and here's why... Since the inception of our species, our natural instinct is to be raised and influenced by our community, whether it's our direct family, a tribe, or even a village.

Humans, like most species, learn by modeling those they perceive to have the highest social status or whom they respect and resonate with the most.

As we grow, we are influenced by new events, experiences and influencers based on our goals, desires, and dreams, so influence doesn't die, it simply shifts focus.

In our current world of "Infobesity", our society is overwhelmed with information and now more than ever do we rely on influencers to help us to quickly make decisions.

As a result, the days of mass influence is eroding due to an explosion of options, so it's wise to focus on becoming a "microfluencer", where you can become famous in a specific niche or industry."

Abdullahi Muhammed | CEO at Oxygenmat, Writer, Marketer and Contributor to Forbes, USA TODAY, Entrepreneur and The Huffington Post

Abdullahi Muhammed

Influence is about being able to move the needle and inspire people, or even a person, to action.

An influencer is a difference maker, a person able to make people see a vision or bigger picture, change their opinions and alter their behaviours.

It’s not about trying to be everywhere, or having hundreds of thousands of followers, or posting tons of frenetic updates.

It’s about playing your piano competently and passionately, with a clear goal in mind, for your cat if that’s the only member of your audience, and causing the cat to move its lazy ass and take action.

Thanks to social media, everywhere seems filled with a barrage of noise, but more easily than ever too, influence is seeing a geometric growth and anyone can become an influencer today.

Anfernee Chansamooth | Director at Simple Creative Marketing, Host of Authentic Influence podcast

Anfernee Chansamooth

Influence cannot die. What a silly notion! It's not a phase or some kind of manufactured product. It's a part of nature.

Don't mistake people with big numbers on their social media profiles and letters next to their names, or faces on screens or print publications, as the only examples of influence.

We affect, motivate, persuade others more by how we show up and live our lives than what we say.

We are influenced most by our inner circle, family members, friends , teachers, co-workers, and local community.

Thus we all have the capacity to influence, and whether conscious or unconscious we are already doing it.

So the best thing that we can do as individuals to make a positive influence on others is to be real, be kind, and pursue the things that light us up.

Juan Felipe Campos | @juannikin

Juan Felipe Campos - FB

With the rise of popup blockers and paid traffic, marketing through influencers on natively embedded content has become the single most underpriced form of top-line awareness available to entrepreneurs.

Jay Kim | Host of The Jay Kim Show

Jay Kim

Influence is measured by one simple metric and it's not how many likes, shares, subscribes, or follows you get.

It's whether or not the audience you are serving (however large or small) will miss you if you stopped.

Conclusion

It seems that influence, albeit an age old topic, is still pretty much debated on whether or not it is still relevant today.

In a world where ‘infobesity’ and the relative ease at which anyone can scale their messages effectively, the state of influence has become somewhat diluted in its meaning, although not in its importance.

What then, can we do to scale our own influence?

As the saying goes, time (and effort) will tell.

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