How many “marketing experts” would you say there are in the world? If you go by LinkedIn profiles or Twitter bio descriptions, there are approximately 2 billion.
In today’s culture, everyone is an authority. Everyone is an expert. Most everyone is some kind of “influencer,” at least in the way they describe themselves.
It’s a symptom of a social culture that both prioritizes authority and lowers the barrier to entry in authoritative conversation.
All the “claiming and calling oneself an authority is resulting in some real problems — including political polarization and willful disobedience of resolutely good health advice.
If you’re in the marketing world or trying to bolster a new startup’s visibility, you face a different set of concerns. You want to stand out as an authority — but how can you do that in a world that’s full of so-called “authorities?”
We’re in the middle of what I’m willing to call an “influence apocalypse.” Social media is filled to the brim with would-be “influencers,” or authorities with significant followings.
Presumably, the opinions and directions of these influencers have a bearing on the attitudes and behaviors of their followers. With so many active influencers stating contradicting opinions, this seems unlikely.
A few important factors are intersecting here:
1.Accessibility. There’s practically no barrier to entry when it comes to sharing an opinion online.
Anyone with an internet connection can start their own blog in a matter of minutes, publish a manifesto, and share it with a global audience via social media. There are literally billions of content creators creating new content regularly, whether it’s a new eBook every week or an occasional tweet.
2. Scale and volume. Sheer numbers make it easy to overestimate your own prowess – and stimulate your ambition to get even more. For example, let’s say you post a controversial opinion and 100 people “like” it or share it.
That’s 100 people who presumably like what you have to say – and you may not have close to 100 “irl” friends. If that number grows to 200, it could feel like you’re on top of the world if you’re not used to that level of exposure.
3. Niches and gaps. You could strive to become an influencer in a broad field like sales or marketing, and many people still do. Still, more frequently, we see people trying to conquer a specific niche – like introducing a new sales methodology or specializing in one type of marketing.
These niches tend to fill quickly, and new influencers are always looking for gaps, resulting in near-total coverage and little room for newcomers in generic fields.
4. The allure of status. Whether you’re interested in taking your company public, running for President, or just getting a round of applause for your meatball recipe, all of us are vulnerable to the allure of status to some degree. Earning a new title, getting more respect, and having more of a presence within a given community simply feels good.
It’s no wonder why so many people strive to be stand-out influencers in today’s world, even if our top channels and media are overcrowded. It’s even stronger since we get to see so many people enjoying the benefits of being at the top.
It would be silly to suggest that the influencer apocalypse has spoiled our appetite for expertise.
Human beings have always valued the knowledge and authority of people more experienced than us. We seek out advice. We learn from teachers and mentors. We run searches to verify our intuitions and curiosities.
No matter how many influencers there are or how many channels we have to communicate on, there will always be some demand for authoritative content.
In other words, if you’re trying to stand out as an authority in your own right, there’s hope.
What does it take to stand out and build an audience in this “influencer apocalypse” era?
These are some of the best strategies at your disposal:
Are you looking for a fast track to become an expert in your chosen field?
You’ll be disappointed to learn that there isn’t one. If you want to do it right, it’s a long and gradual process. But you can hasten that process with these initial steps:
If you want a chance at rising to the top in an era oversaturated with so-called “influencers,” you’ll have your work cut out for you. But today’s consumers are still eager to hear the opinions and perspectives of well-read, experienced, and thoughtful people – and you still have a great opportunity to capitalize on that with the right approach.
Originally appeared in ReadWrite