I can be difficult. Hello elephant. Hello room. But at least let me explain. The multimillion-dollar question of how to harness the elusive (and yet ubiquitous) 'influence' is under scrutiny by the media, brands and consumers alike. Do they contain that magic sauce? Are they the capitalist conduit to profitability? But do they get likes? Is their engagement high enough?
It’s a moniker I’ve openly challenged and rebuked, much to the distaste and confusion of many, including my friends. Want to start a heated discussion? There’s your tinder nest. Add to that the suggestion and preference of a much broader "digital creative" and you're set for an evening of contretemps. To be so invested in such seemingly superficial nomenclature may seem futile, however, with the amount of importance we all (yes, we all do it) place on the power of influence it seems like a perfectly justifiable objection to possess. During a time of seismic shifts in values, polarising perspectives and a distrust of mass media the idea of challenging such a title seems valid.
Influence is the new affluence. It's a currency, a commodity, with brands, media, celebrities and just about everyone else vying to sell their own in the hopes of gaining more. The rat race is on to see who will tap the golden market of the new generation, yet the priorities of Gen Zs and Millenials have shifted, especially when it comes to making the commitment of parting with our hard-earned money. (Something we actually do less and less of with the likes of Rent the Runway, Airbnb and a plethora of other little squares hovering over our home screens. No, it doesn't all go to avocado toast.) When it comes to our customer journey to purchase, listen up. We want transparency. We want egalitarianism. We want input and for goodness sake we don’t want to be put in a box. I’ve always felt there’s something inherently off-putting about this blind influence some are expected to push onto others solely to make a purchasing decision and it’s because of this I find it quite a challenge to communicate to clients (and actually have them understand) my reasons behind my refusal to do so. The importance of maintaining a social and cultural relevancy to an audience that is searching for more and more cultural touchstones and substantial connections on social media is clearer than ever. As a result, most of my emails to clients begin with “I must respectfully decline”….