So “They” Say You’re My Influencer. Really?!
Wednesday, June 13th, 2012
It seems that the past year has brought to the surface many conversations about who has the most influence in the event planning industry. People are making lists left and right of the most innovative people in our industry and some have been quite controversial. While I don’t necessarily want to get into the controversy, I do feel it’s important to talk about what really makes an innovative and influential leader.
Influential People Have Influence
One way to determine an influential person in an industry is to take a vote. Most people are automatically turned off by this idea because they think it but it’s a popularity contest, but the truth is that if you are influential, you have an audience. If two people send out a “vote for me” message to their audience and only one person gets a response, I do believe that person is a bigger influencer. Popularity contests got a bad reputation back in high school when the prom king and queen were chosen based just on who is most beautiful, but in the social space, influence is largely determined by the people who have tuned into you and respond to your posts.
When I read articles about people who have made a “Top Innovators” list, I am always looking for their innovation. What are they doing that pushes the envelope? What are they creating that is bringing our industry to the next level? Innovation has become a buzz word, but I think we’ve forgotten what it means.
Influential People Have Expertise
While most influential people do not consider themselves “experts”, many of them are leading the way in a particular area of their industry. They might have a very narrow scope, but they know that one aspect very well. The mass population tends to be drawn towards people with great personalities and even good looks, but over time, most imposters come out in the end. People like to know that the people they look up to are genuine and very smart and they won’t follow fake influencers for too long. The influencers who truly have expertise can keep people engaged long-term.
Influencers Make People Jump
It doesn’t matter if you have 40,000 people on your listserv, that doesn’t make you an influencer. The way that I most judge an influential person is by their ability to get people to take action. If you send your newsletter blasts to 30,000 people, and get only 2% clicks, how influential are you really? If you can send to a very small targeted list and get many of them to respond, I would say that you’re more influential than someone with a big listserv. Too often, our society looks at popularity and the size of your audience and does not take into account the quality. To me, this is the most important component of an influencer.
Regardless of what magazine or blog creates a list of innovative people, I think anything created in a vacuum related to influential and innovative leaders is not reliable. Regardless of how these magazines and blogs have chosen the people on their list, I think there is a lot of room for improvement. There are a lot of influencers in the industry who are never mentioned on the list. And most of the time when I read one of these, I don’t know anyone. While I am not the most connected person in the industry, I think there are great people who are being left off and I wonder if they’re being replaced by people who are truly more influential.
Liz King is a social media-integrated event planner and award winning blogger. As the owner of Liz King Events, she runs an innovative firm that creates dynamic branding events integrating the use of social media. Reprinted with permission from the Liz King Events blog.
Photo by Quinn.Anya.