If you have a following on social media, post consistently and receive a lot of likes, you might consider yourself an influencer. Over the past few years, the term "influencer" has exploded, and many social media users and professional content creators have claimed the title.
The Collectively community represents a diverse group of talented creative professionals who share their content and creativity online. In our recent community insights survey, in which we surveyed 900+ Collectively collaborators, we asked how those people felt about being labeled as an "influencer".
The responses revealed that while most creatives identify with the label as an industry norm, their primary professional talent/title/skill holds the most weight. Underneath the blanket “influencer” definition is a diverse group of premium talent—including visual artists, photographers, professional athletes, actors, dancers, models, writers, editors, videographers, chefs, nutritionists and more.
85% of those asked said, “Yes", I identify with the word "influencer" while, 15% did not identify with the term at all. However, the anonymous comments people submitted painted a more complex picture. The majority identifies with the term, but there’s so much more to who they are. Here are a few responses that caught our attention from both viewpoints...
Do you identify with the word "influencer"?
“I do influence people - that's why brands trust me to work with them.” (Retail Assistant)
“I identify as an influencer because I work to share my message and engage with my audience through social in a variety of marketing strategies, including collaborating with brands with the same values and interests.” (Administrator)
“When I started my blog I would have said no, but with all of the comments, emails and texts from family and friends who buy products I promote or blog about means I am influencing them by my stories and content. So today I would say yes, I am an influencer.” (Model)
“I hated that term for a while but I've grown to accept it, I love it. I believe it's the future of marketing.” (Digital Marketer)
“I’m a designer first.” (Craft Designer)
“I'm hesitant to say yes to that. I create content that people like, but I'm old school. Influencer doesn't necessarily feel right for me.” (Stylist)
“Influencer sounds like manipulation to me. I prefer the term blogger or Instagrammer.” (IT Manager)
“I don't like to refer to myself as an influencer because it's such a new and trendy term that a lot of people still don't really understand the meaning of. I have a professional background in creating content, and I'd like to be viewed as a professional, whereas I get the sense that often times people don't take "influencers" as seriously. For example: I think a brand is more likely to pay someone that pitches themselves as offering "content production services" rather than pitching themselves as an influencer who will post a photo or video to their social media account. Wording matters when it comes to a brand's budget.” (Video Producer)
"I'm somewhere in the middle."
“My recommendations influence others. But, I have to admit, the term makes me cringe! Mostly because it's over-used for overly filtered social media accounts.” (Editor)
“While I do identify as an influencer, I feel that the term doesn't necessarily encompass everything that I do as a blogger.” (Full-time Blogger)
“I've been blogging for almost a decade and highly reputable brands have sought me out over the years to represent their products and share them with my audience. Whether or not I self-identify with the term, others do.” (Full-time Blogger)
What we learned.
While the majority of creatives we work with don’t mind the 21st century "influencer" title, it’s really a blanket term that doesn’t necessarily do justice to their true talents.
The people we work with in the Collectively community are motivated primarily by their craft—and that in turn powers their ability to gain attention and audience. For us, this is the key differentiating factor that we bring to the influencer marketing space. Focusing first on the quality of the work an individual produces means that the “influencer” term is based less on arbitrary and always-changing metrics, but rather on a person’s ability to affect culture with their creativity.
Perhaps Leandra Medine, the influencer icon behind Man Repeller, says it best, “I still find the word ‘influencer’ to be a fairly cringe-worthy one, but there’s no better word out there.”
Curious about our approach to influencer marketing? Say, hello.