Why you can no longer be an expert unless you’re also an influencer.
I tried to refresh the page. I didn’t get it. How did she have millions of followers? It made no sense. An Instagram influencer, her most liked post said ‘live your best life’. It was her pearl of wisdom. Like the insight snob that I am, I banged my head off the wall. How can it be? ‘Influencers’. But she’s not a….
That was three years ago. Ever since then my mind has been changing about the term ‘influencer’. You see I teach influence. I specialize in teaching people how to influence themselves and others more effectively. This is what I am all about so when the word “influencer” reared its head I took notice.
Initially I came across the stories of the influencers who would sneak into the gardens of rich people while they were away and take photos by the pool as if they were living like celebrities. There were influencers who did pranks. Some were provocative. Some danced funnily. Some dressed in different styles of clothes. Some posted memes. And some all they did (as far as I could see) was pout and take photos… or make a kiss face and take photos. It baffled me.
Although influencer has been used for centuries to simply describe someone with influence, it was used more recently in the advertising industry to describe someone who has influence online. It then escaped the industry and became commonplace to describe social media figures with big followings. Recently, Logan Paul, a YouTube Influencer, had built such a big following that he could leverage it to fight Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match.
Facts are that the influencer industry is said to hit 10 billion dollars next year (2022). Given that, it seems to be thriving and trending into a potential future career choice for kids and teenagers today. But what about the expert industry? If you have spent years to qualify as an expert in some area of study, is there still much room for you? Could it be that future university subjects could be ‘Selfies 101’, ‘How to look like you’re on vacation while in our back garden’ or ‘Dancing funny: An Introduction’.
This might seem insane however, the market goes where the market goes. At the same time, given how many influencers have become the heroes of kids everywhere, it is very possible that in their efforts to emulate their heroes, supply will eventually trump demand and there will be too many people out there trying to ‘influence’. That’s another story.
What I’m interested in is how this impacts experts. Someone who has spent years of their life developing an expertise in some area. Maybe they are a coach or consultant, a trainer or speaker, a therapist or counsellor, an author or advisor. Maybe they have been successful in business and now wish to share their experiences with others through books and keynotes. Do people care about experts anymore?
An expert is someone who knows an extensive amount about a certain topic and is hired to provide that knowledge to people who want it. Despite google providing us with information, knowledge and wisdom is best gotten from learning directly from an expert. Experts not only educate you, however. They also help you to transform. They help you learn about yourself and what changes you can make to improve your life. Influencers can inspire you no doubt and certainly entertain you but there is only so much wisdom that you can get from most of them.
Back to the title of this post. Although I’m sure initially your mind reached into the gutter upon first glance, you soon found yourself disappointed to see that I wasn’t making some crude sexual reference. Instead, my belief is that if we, as experts, want to stay ‘relevant’ as the influencer world would say, we need to develop the skills of influencers. Similarly, too, there is a route for influencers to become experts. It may take longer but, with a strong following, if they choose to, then they can start moving from entertaining and inspiring to educating and transforming.
So… being an ‘expert between the sheets’ means studying between the sheets (of a book) or being able to write your own book. Being an ‘influencer on the streets’ means getting out there on social media, entertaining and inspiring the world not just showing off what we know.
Part of the work I do involves training and coaching experts to build and grow their expert businesses. Many of them don’t know the first steps of how to do it or procrastinate after having qualified because they don’t feel ready. For them I created a ten-week training called Expert Business School. Others are in the game a while but fail to make much traction so for them I created the Expert Business Mentorship.
The mentorship involves monthly training and group coaching sessions on various topics like writing a book, making a podcast, copywriting and scaling.
One of the things that I am fully aware of is that the kind of content that we create as experts can no longer just demonstrate value or solve problems. In a crowded marketplace, the battle of experts has fast become the battle of personalities. We must no longer be thought leaders, we must be emotion leaders. We must entertain and invite people into our personalities.
I refreshed the page. This time it was my own Facebook page. Not nearly on the scale of the ‘live your best life’ lady, I looked at the most popular post I had ever posted that went up twenty-four hours ago. It was a photo of me next to a rock saying ‘Me and the Rock’. I thought about all the blog posts I had written just before that which had massive amount of value in them and failed to get traction. And there I was, a photo of me and a rock, twenty times the views.
While hanging my head in shame it occurred to me, becoming an influencer wasn’t something I could continue to look down on. It was something that would soon become critical to survival. In the influencer world, and indeed the expert world, people buy into who you are not what you do.
Still, I don’t plan on learning the ski mask.*
*one of the latest dance trends apparently.