Are You an Influencer?


IMG_3997Aaron Brazell, aka @technosailor and founder and lead editor of, when he spoke at Izeafest 2009, shared his thoughts on what makes someone an “influencer.” The difference between being a celebrity and an influencer, he said, is that, “Being a celebrity gets you attention now; being an influencer gets you attention over the long term.”

A few of the characteristics of an influencer, according to Brazell, are:

1. Quality. Says Brazell, “It’s not numbers. It isn’t the number of followers you have. You can be the best marketer in the world but nobody cares if you don’t have quality.”

I agree with Brazell’s statements about quality over quantity, but if you’re working with clients or trying to convince a decision-maker  — such as your boss — about social media, they still expect numbers. I may argue with my business partner every time she is looking to find the numbers to show our clients that “it is not about the numbers,” but I know I have to understand that when the person holding the purse strings demands those numbers, we’re just between a rock and a hard place.

aaron-brazellBut for those who are chasing the big numbers like thousands of Facebook friends and Twitter followers at the expense of quality content and engagement, they are in for a very rude awakening as the marketing and advertising landscape continues to change. It isn’t how many eyeballs you get in front of, but how engaged the people behind those eyeballs are with you that matters.

2. Transparency. “With an influencer you know what they are thinking, what they are going to do, why they are doing it — because they’re transparent. You do what you say, you say what you do. Transparency builds trust,” says Brazell.

I couldn’t agree more. Whether you’re a blogger or other kind of content producer — even if you’re just commenting in someone’s else’s forum — be transparent about who you are, what you do and why you do it. People appreciate that honesty. And they resent it when you hide your identity or intentions; trust is broken. Don’t go there.

Brazell also mentioned two other qualities of influencers: they have charisma and are inspiring. He says that there is a motivational aspect to what influencers do. “Know how to talk to people. When you motivate people, you start building people up, and you give somebody something that is worthwhile.”

What do you think makes someone an “influencer?

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