Recently Oxford University Press ran on online survey to find the ‘most-hated word in the English language’ as part of its #OnWordMap campaign. Rather predictably the word ‘moist’ was the front runner across the UK, US and Canada in the global survey.
It got me thinking about my least favorite word and, while moist is a pretty close runner-up; the word currently that sets my nerves jangling is ‘influencer’.
It’s been a slow burning dislike that started several years ago while at an event across the ditch. I was part of a conversation during which a fellow guest was asked what they did for a living. The response has always stuck with me, a little like the canapé I most choked on, because they described themselves as ‘an influencer’.
Now let’s be clear, it’s not the concept of being an ‘influencer’ that I don’t like. Way back in the 1990s, well before social media (yes I am that old), I was advocating for and working on great campaigns for an international clothing company using real people with real networks of influence. The last few years have seen some of the most exciting and profound changes to how the PR industry operates within this space.
The issue is how we often mistake having an audience for having influence. The term is used so frequently, it is almost meaningless. Just try looking on LinkedIn to see how many people identify themselves as an ‘influencer’.
Yes, you need an audience to have influence but true influence should drive behavior beyond tweets, blogs and Instagram posts – it should drive action. Having people follow you does not always equate to having influence on their views or behavior.
We recently had the privilege to take part in a wonderful campaign supported by an amazing range of NZ’s ‘influencers’. As a perfect case in point, the content that had the most views drove the least amount of action.
Yes, 200,000 people followed this person but only a handful was compelled to act on what they had seen. This compares to others who took part in the campaign who had much smaller but far more engaged followers who took up the call the action.
A true ‘influencer’ should be authentic, have mana, be inspiring and aspirational to help you create meaningful dialogue, bridge gaps in perception and build networks of advocates.
Sadly, we will never know the world’s least favourite word, because after only 24 hours the #OnWordMap site was closed down due to ‘severe misuse’. It seems that Oxford Dictionaries were only looking for a sanitised version our least favourite word.
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