Are You An Influencer?
Devotional by Karen Schoeppach
“Influencer”, that’s a word we hear quite often these days. Although it is a common term, I didn’t really know what it meant. So, I did what my young family members are always telling me to do: I googled it! The basic definition is that an “influencer” is someone in your group or industry who can “influence” your target audience. Or, perhaps I should say, “convince” that audience. Companies and industries use influencers to assist in marketing as a form of advertising. These influencers have been used in marketing for many years.
Today’s influencers come to us through social media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, blogs, and YouTube are ways that celebrities, bloggers, athletes, pop culture icons, and individuals who have made some type of impact on social media use to influence or convince the audience to follow them. Are these people experts on the subjects of their posts or videos? Not necessarily. Do they care about the people they are influencing? Probably not. Makeup tips, exercise advice, fashion comments, other lifestyle topics, and even medical treatment protocols are all over the internet. Some of these influencers are promoting products, tools, and equipment. They may encourage dangerous or questionable practices. No matter what the topic, the public is ready to listen, watch, and follow.
I ask myself “Why can’t I be an influencer?” It seems all you need to do is put yourself out on a media site and present yourself in an entertaining way. Then, you wait for the likes, comments, shares, or posts to begin. I don’t believe anyone is going to take any interest in my thoughts on makeup or exercise. No one is going to care if I endorse any product. And I certainly wouldn’t suggest that anyone try something that would put them at risk. I guess there isn’t much sense in my trying to be an influencer on social media. But is that the only way I can be an influencer? How about you? Do you know of a way you can be an influencer? Who could we influence?
When I was younger, my parents would talk about certain people in my life as being “a good influence”. They would tell me that I should look for people who would be “a good influence”. As I got older, I would read articles about different individuals who were a good influence on children and young people in their community or in a national organization. Influencers aren’t always on social media. Influencers can be anywhere in a person's life. Family, friends, people in school, and members of the church family all have some type of influence on choices that are made every day. Well, I have been an influencer for most of my life. Who knew?
My parents were very clear that I was supposed to “set a good example” for my younger sisters. I was an influencer. As an aunt to many nieces and nephews, I am aware that they watch what I do and listen to what I say. I am an influencer. As a member of a church congregation, every time a baby or young child is baptized, I promise to nurture them as they walk their path to faith formation. I am an influencer!
As I look back on my “career” as an influencer, I am relieved to see that I have had a good influence on others more times than not. Whew! Now that you know the simple, everyday ways people influence others, are you thinking about your own “career” as an influencer? Have you been a positive influence? Are you proud of the influence you have had?
Social media-based influencers, whether rich, famous, or just popular, may enjoy the publicity or the money generated from their influence. I am proud of the influence I have had over the years. Although others may have a great deal of influence on more people than I do, it isn’t the type of influence for which I want to be remembered.
God, in our world today too many are being influenced by what is on social media without knowing the value of what they are seeing and hearing. As we have been influenced by You and Your son, Jesus, may we follow that example and live our lives as “influencers” with a goal of touching the lives of others in positive ways. We pray that our influence will be more powerful than anything social media influencers can present. We will lean on Your strength. Lord, hear our prayer. Amen