The word influencer has been in the English language since the 1600’s, but it wasn’t until 2016 when the word started being ever more frequently used. Social media highlighted a new type of persona among the platforms, people who differed from the rest of its users – individuals who possessed a bigger amount of followers than the rest.
With their high amount of followers, it meant that these individuals had a bigger presence on the Internet than your regular user and with that they were able to dictate what would be trendy and hip to the masses. So the community dubbed them influencers, people who (quite appropriately) had a lot of influence.
Yet over the more recent years, we’ve seen a stigma develop around the term influencer – making it over used and further complicating its original meaning. So, without further ado let’s tackle the ever so confusing questions of – What EXACTLY makes an influencer?
Before we go on to explain the persona, let us first dissect what the word ‘influencer’ means and its origins.
The use of the word influencer can be tracked back to around the 1660-70’s. The word can be broken down into two parts influence (noun) + -er (suffix), which signifies that Influencer is rather a personification noun; adding influence as a persona for the person in question.
But that then begs us to ask, what does ‘influence’ mean? Now I’m not questioning your intelligence, quite the contrary, rather what is the dictionary definition for this word which gets intertwined with these select people’s character.
The noun “influence” originated in 1325-75 in Middle English rooted to the Latin word ‘influent’. The definition of this word literally translated means “flowing in” or in Ecology it represents a plant or animal that has an important effect on the biotic balance in a community.
By such analysis we can conclude that any person titled with the noun ‘influencer’ is considered to be the one who sets the flow of society, or for a certain community within it.
The above definition helps us get a rough view of these select people, but yet again we can see dozens of self-titled influencers all over social media – and the focal word here is “self-titled”.
For anyone to be considered an influencer, it is not just their numbers and title which define them, but rather their impact. If a self-titled influencer tries to make an impact in their followers’ choices or behavior, chances are, they’d be unsuccessful. This is due to the entire power these individuals possess over their own community.
One notable example can be seen in ‘influencers’ who merely use their body to attract followers. Such individuals collect a community not based on specific values, but rather with the occasional feed reward of ‘eye candy’. They, as well as their followers, are well aware of the agenda and intent of their persona and profile – likes and engagement which can potentially lead to the ‘self-titled influencer’ getting payed with promotions – this is not however the main purpose of actual influencers.
Real influencers spread value, they have a message and they have a lifestyle which certain people either are building towards or simply admire. An influencer’s agenda is not to make their life into a business, but rather to pave a path for their followers towards a common goal – monetizing their career on the way, in order to be able to focus on it more intensely.
Most influencers we’ve met are actually students and some even have jobs, which comes to tell us that real influencers are not so different from you and I, but rather these are transparent people who are not afraid to put their best qualities along with their flaws out for the world to see. Their courage and devotion attracts like-minded individuals and that’s how an influencer builds their community – a community which defines them, as much as they help it flow.