Being an Influencer Is Not a Top Priority

Many people engage in online media to promote their services. The idea of choosing between becoming an online influencer or a communicator probably doesn’t occur to them. After all, they just want to win a few clients and projects.

I reached a point where I needed to prioritize my own online interactions versus a desire to do the work, scale a business, and maintain balance in my personal life. Some are able to build larger agencies and businesses that coincide with significant online profiles, but I struggle to do both. So a choice was needed. In many ways, it is a living decision, one that I constantly need to reinforce.

Last week, a top 100 influencers metric came out, as usual based on Twitter reach, though this time it measured the reach of persona’s following, specifically “how many people are following those followers.” I guess that’s potential RT reach? Anyway, I am not sure how that translates to influence, but many friends whom I do consider to be influential were deservedly on the list. My congratulations to them.

As I watched the usual accolades posted on my social streams, I grew jealous. I could have been on that list if I’d only chosen to focus on my personal network growth over the past few years. But then I reminded myself about my choices. I was able to detach.

How This Choice Impacted Me

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I secured an opportunity for my client Cade Martin serve as the primary portrait photographer for the NBA Wives Association (Behind the Bench) black tie gala last weekend. Cade is photographing MLB great Prince Fielder here. Check out all of his shots.

Many who have known me over the past 10 years would agree that I am not as prolific as I used to be online. I am a practitioner now, not an uber-influencer on the social media conference speaking circuit. Ratcheting it back was necessary to achieve those other objectives.

Instead, I am present enough to contribute to the larger conversation and market my business. Further, I use the tools to demonstrate competency with social media, particularly with my photography.

Frankly, I feel like online tools like Twitter, this blog and others are awesome, but they can blind you. You think the attention is necessary to succeed, but it takes a lot of energy and time to keep that influencer flywheel turning. Plus the necessary, um, political schmoozing is not my favorite activity. So I made and continue to make the choice to focus on other things.

This decision hasn’t been unkind to me. I earn a bit more than I used to, and I have better family relationships.

Having attained the right balance, I believe I am still credible to clients. At the same time, my intent is to promote them first, and not myself. I guess that’s old school, the client should be in the limelight, and not me.

Perhaps I have become just a member of the community rather than one of the top voices. Others have taken the mantle, and today, it seems some leaders are newer voices, at least to this old man. I kind of like that. Perhaps it is time for the next generation of influencers.

Me, I just want to build a good business, and do what is necessary online. My time as an uber-influencer — real or imagined — has passed.

  • Amen. True courage to arrive at the self realization of what’s most important. I don’t think that lists do anything other than alienate the community at large, the ones whose ideas are often crowd-sourced by the so-called influencers. Perhaps by the time Soleil enters the working world, popularity will no longer rule the day. Truly, the only recognition that any of us needs is a pat on the back when the work we do or the contributions that we make, are well received, genuine and resonate quality first and foremost. Cheers.

    • geofflivingston

      LOL, I am not holding my breath. But I think building popularity and self pointing attention are different skills than doing the work. That is my biggest source of contention with these lists. I have come to realize that though when is recognition in the domain of the other, they are not the same. That doesn’t someone can’t be good at both, but I don’t seem them as the same anymore. That knowledge has been a source of relief.

  • “This above all, to thine own self be true.” Being true to oneself, knowing what’s important and living that space can, on days when those lists appear, seem like “why them and not me”…but that lasts only a moment when you’re living your own truth:)

    • geofflivingston

      In the end, those temporary emotions are just a distraction. It’s nice to be able to see that.

  • I’ve certainly noticed that change in your Geoff, you seem more grounded, real, and realistic. Thank you for posting this.

    • geofflivingston

      Thanks for your kind words, Jeremiah. Love the growth your company is showing.

  • Gil

    What does it say about me, that I recognize only few names in this list?
    I’m in tech marketing for many years, know the relevant suspects that affect my target audience…not the ones affecting other marketers as much. Does it make me not as good marketer?
    To add to your ‘old school’ approach I feel that if my PR is more famous than me – the customer they suppose to push out to the media, then we have a problem. So I’m totally with your approach.

    • geofflivingston

      Probably means that you have been doing your job instead of rubber necking at the cool crowd! Cheers, and thanks for your kind comment.

  • jewelfry

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is the exact same choice I made early on and I don’t regret it at all!

    • geofflivingston

      Glad the experience was useful!

  • No need to be in the spotlight 24/7 to prove you’re a subject matter expert and valued business partner. I take those lists with a grain of salt since some people “buy” their way in. Geoff, you’ve already earned your credibility so no list will take that away.

    • geofflivingston

      Thank you for your thoughts, Tony. Very kind of you!

  • Yaser Elshafey
  • Great post my friend. I wrote a piece recently how the social media rock star died around 2013. Personal brands are too busy focused on themselves vs working with clients. You made the right choice. You built a foundation. It will last. Businesses know value and that is why so many of the generation after you are now flailing around wondering where they fit because so many of their thought leadership ideas never succeeded. Thought leadership is saying ‘I think this will come true’ 9 of 10 or higher do not. Vs ‘I know because I have proof’ which succeeds….well almost always 8)

    I wanted to add I have grown my twitter network very slowly and deliberately focused on quality connections vs volume. So while I might have only 2500 following and me in return it is a highly powerful network. And that is what matters.

  • In the 10 years I have been doing this social thing proffesionally, I have never been paid to be an influencer. I get paid beacause I create business results for the brands I work for through social media.

  • Good for you Geoff. The social media bubble is an interesting world and influence as most people define it is BS. I’m glad you have found a balance and it is working for you.

  • Stephen Henderson

    I’m in technical promotion for many decades, know the appropriate thinks that impact my focus on market…not the ones impacting other promoters as much. Does it make me not as excellent marketer?

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