Do You Have What it Takes to Become an Influencer?

Black and pink selfie-stick used by a very influential influencer.

Influencers are the new elite of the Internet age. We all want to connect with them, we all want to become influencers.

Instagram is the site that has pushed the influencer hype to new limits and beyond. Yet do you really have what it takes?


Do You Really Want to Become Influential?

Today I do not want to focus why it is not a good idea to strive to become influential.

Let us assume that it is perfectly OK to attempt to exert influence online and get influenced by influencers as well.

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:

  1. they have a wildly popular blog or magazine
  2. they have published a book or more than one
  3. they lead their own (publishing) companies
  4. they have whole teams of people who do the work for them
  5. they mostly work by appearing publicly like speaking at conferences
  6. they have worked for so called “Fortune 500 brands”
  7. they reside in the US or at least in an English speaking country

On Instagram on the other hand yo mostly need to be cool, mainstream, outrageous and sexy.

“Being famous on Instagram is like to be rich in Monopoly”

Let us focus then on those who have real albeit mediated influence.


What Do Influencers Have in Common?

Influencers 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

  • young
  • white
  • male
  • 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, a white womanizer or a white bully didn’t have such 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.

Do You Have to be Mainstream to Influence?

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
  • political

affiliations. That’s also true to some extent.

Still getting well known and making people believe like you depends to a large part on you being like them.

Looking at my engagement and other influence metrics you might sometimes assume that I am influencer myself. Why do I complain then?

Well, aside the fact that engagement 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 Anarchist but I’m not mainstream enough to be likeable for a large group of people. I’m

  • white
  • male
  • middle class

and I may be even good looking (at least not as bad to scare people off) but I don’t live in the US and I’m not even a native speaker of English.


You’re Not an Influencer? That’s Fine!

You didn’t have the time to write a book yet? Me neither! Also 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 prefer to stay independent. Why make people subordinate and depend on you? It’s a burden.

I want to stay a person and not solely become a personal brand known to be known or famous for being famous 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. Also I’m good at being a so called engager.

Helping people is rewarding for me by itself. They don’t have to admire me for it. Also I love connecting people. Sometimes it may even backfire.

I even remember as a youngster how I introducing people from two nations that were at war to each other. This way I wanted to make them talk. There never was even a brawl. Yet some of them weren’t amused.

There are plenty of other roles beyond influencer and connector. You can engage in many ways.

Find out what’s yours and do not try to become like somebody else or to become famous for the sake of popularity.

On the other hand: do you have what it takes to become an influencer? Then go for it. Popularity can help you achieve your goals – some of them at least.

It’s fine to influence and also fine not to influence. It depends on who you are and what you want.

You can also find the perfect middle ground – like I did. I influence the debates I’m into just enough without exposing myself.