Life in the "influencer" club

You might be an influencer - but is anyone actually influenced?

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

The Telegraph takes a sceptical – if not quite cynical look – at the world of the online influencer, especially those with a Klout score of over 70:

John Stuart Mill once remarked that it doesn’t matter if you’re influential: what matters is that people think you are. Companies are willing to pay hand over fist for UYK insight. Some of these high Klouters get paid for speaking or advising companies about “doing social”. Thomas told me that he can earn £500 an hour by training top CEOs “how to use Twitter” and how to set up decent LinkedIn accounts. Seemed to me like an awful lot to pay for what is, fundamentally, very simple.

Online influence sometimes looks suspiciously like a pyramid scheme: those at the top get more influential by building legions of acolytes who also wish to have “influence”. But it’s influence in the abstract – not influence in any particular sphere of life or business. It’s an abstraction to the point of meaninglessness.

Put it this way: I had a link from an “online influencer” recently. I braced myself for the wave of traffic. It never came. I’ve had people with 150 followers send more traffic my way.

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.