Influencers are important

Today, we are in the era of marketing to the individual. Through our phone, via Instagram, Twitter and the like. A lot of content also tends to be pushing an agenda, though not always(thankfully). What are influencers? They sell stuff on social media, you might say. But who is an influencer? And what do they do?

What is being sold is not only commodities. It’s ideas, philosophies, opinions and even moral judgements. Sometimes there are facts.

It’s practically impossible to filter out the important from this sea of content. This is where influencers come in. An influencer has done some research in an area (let’s say a good way to organize your photos, or those best workout shorts) and present to the world their findings and methods. Potentially saving you time and maybe giving you some joy in your life (a perfectly organized photo library, feeling great during the workout).

In exchange, you give them likes, comments of encouragement, feedback and maybe even some of your hard earned money as tips or subscriptions. You also give them time and attention.

An influencer will only survive in their job if they stay helpful and relevant to their audience. You can easily find someone new to follow. The influencer has a lot of incentive to be actually good at their job.

Two qualities I find important in an influencer are Proof of work and being open to criticism. Proof of work means I can verify that the person knows what they are talking about. For e.g. it’s hard to take an unfit person’s advice on bodybuilding seriously. Being open to criticism is part of recognizing that any or all our ideas could be wrong. It’s good to be humble. Error correction is the key to building knowledge. Good influencers usually tend to have good communication and style.

All artists (painters, musicians, TikTokers), writers, teachers, podcasters, politicians and even activists are influencers. In some sense, we are all influencers. Through our actions. Not all of us do it as a job. And some influence more than others. The influences you choose determine what you think and do. So it makes sense to choose carefully what influencers you follow. It’s a dynamic process.

The most important thing however, is to think for yourself. An examined life. Influencers can help us guide the world. But, it is no substitute for thinking for yourself. You may become an influencer someday, maybe even are right now. Believe me, your audience expects you to put in the work.

So, the work an influencer does is meaningful. And it’s hard. I’m grateful there are people out there putting in the work to help others.