What does it mean to have influence?

Not 5 years ago, the influencer landscape was different, it was when moms ruled the blogosphere and back then I had “klout.” The influence sort of just came along with blogging territory. Obviously, if people read, interacted and commented on your blog, surely you carried some influence with them. Right?

To further the perception of influence, mom bloggers were all early adopters of social platforms – so they (we!) were the first to be on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and much later, Instagram!

The smart PR people realized this and built relationships, offered swag, goods, services in exchange for our “influence.” But unlike the way it is now, when a company or PR person “gave” you something, there wasn’t the expectation that you would make a sales pitch for them and endorse what they gave you. It wasn’t so much an expectation as it was a hope. Old school PR style – I’ll pitch ya a story and if you think it interests you, go write about it. If you write a review, make it an honest one.

Then things started to change and mutual expectations began to rise – companies expected bloggers/influencers to churn out content, views and traffic; while bloggers/influencers started expecting compensation both in cash and kind.

And then something curious happened, you didn’t even need a blog to be insta-famous anymore – you just needed followers. 

And that’s where I got lost.

These days I find myself on the other side of the table, preferring to work with clients. I am no longer considered an “influencer” with my small numbers.  Apparently, I am a “microinfluencer.” When “hosted” at an event or given “swag,” I have to remember to hashtag-ad #ad and no, #spon (short for sponsored) is not acceptable.

One last thought – if everyone becomes an influencer, who are we influencing?


One response to “What does it mean to have influence?”

  1. Wonderful perspective, Marcie! Being a former advertising/marketing executive, I have recently been harboring some hostility toward what marketing has become. We used to create television, print, radio and online ads. You know what you were getting. They (We!) were trying to sell you something. As you mentioned, with the introduction of social media, that all changed and it was more focused on blogging and influence. But at the introduction, it was honest…or at least seemed that way. But now, I’m finding that everyone wants/expects to be an influencer. I asked my husband the other night, have we traded friendship for influence? I would absolutely ask a friend for a recommendation. But now, because so many fancy themselves influencers (or on the track to becoming influencers), I have a hard time taking any sort of “recommendations” seriously. And dont get me started on the MLMs. Everyone sells something. (Technically, I think I sell things!) What an interesting journey. And what’s next???