How Does an Expert Stay Relevant in the Influencer Age?
Since the mid 90’s we have been in what is generally considered to be the Information Age. With access to just about anything and everything available online, humanity has few limits to learning.
Per Wikipedia, the Information Age (also known as the Computer Age, Digital Age, or New Media Age) is a historical period that began in the mid-20th century, characterized by a rapid epochal shift from traditional industry established by the Industrial Revolution to an economy primarily based upon information technology.
I think most people feel that we are still in the middle of the information age. However, the past few years have made me skeptical in using that term to describe where we are right now.
This realization led me to the concept of the Imagination Age… a theoretical period beyond the Information Age where creativity and imagination will become the primary creators of economic value. In contrast, the main activities of the Information Age are analysis and thinking.
The concept holds that technologies like virtual reality and user created content will change the way humans interact with each other and create economic and social structures.
A key concept is that the rise of an immersive virtual reality — the cyberspace or the metaverse — will raise the value of “imagination work” done by designers, artists, etc. over rational thinking as a foundation of culture and economics.
Some argue that the Imagination Age has already started, given that imagination, they argue, is the most valued skill in our modern society.
And I agree.
I’ve seen this happen in the way generations born since the mid 90s, one’s who grew up in the Information Age, do not value expertise as much as they value influence. At least not in the same way my generation (X) and previous generations replied on experts to do things like conquer disease, win world wars and put a man on the moon.
In addition, it amazes me that with all the facts available, we see more and more alternative facts winning the day. We have the ability for each of us to easily validate things that used to be universals truths… facts were facts. Now many see opinions as facts.
Somewhere during our quest to live our own best lives, we no longer seem as capable to live lives that give everyone the best life they can have as well. We recently strove to think globally, look to the future and create a better world that was based on science and technology. At least that’s how I saw things for most of my life.
And this leads me back to where this thought started. How does an expert, in the traditional sense … someone who through a combination of education and success was able to rise to the top of their field, stay relevant?
If we truly were in the information age wouldn’t scientists have more followers, then some who just take a lot of selfies?
To stay relevant, experts have to now be influencers as well. We have to learn what kinds of videos will increase our chance to get views. We have to know what hashtags will attract people to listen to us and we have to be engaging enough to keep their attention.
Over the last few years, I’ve seen so many experts, really knowledgeable people fail as coaches, speakers, authors because they relied to much on their expertise and not enough on their ability to influence.
Influence is defined as “the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something.”
Taking this one step further, we have to tell stories. Relatable stories that have the desired effect on our audience.
Experts who can not only share knowledge but do it in a way that appeals to their audience develop influence. This is not new, but now days it is mandatory.
This is what made me so successful as an analyst. I was doing data storytelling before the word was even invented. Taking facts and making them relatable to everyone in the room, with an eye to not only educating but influencing decision-makers.
This is also what has made me successful in advocating for analytics in the Philippines. Telling stories that empower. Using data to appeal to the brain and storytelling to appeal to the heart.
This is how I’ve bult my following as an influencer in the data analytics space in the Philippines. Just being an expert would have not gotten me anywhere, but being an influencer got me everywhere.
Now I’m taking my expertise in virtual staffing and build my influencer platform among virtual assistants and the business owners who need them. Helping a small business owner focus on what they do best by hiring a VA for all the rest is the message. Stories are the key to taking my expertise, my knowledge and using it to influence.
That is how I as an expert, have figured out how to stay relevant. I’ve always understood that influence is more important than expertise. You need both, but in the end its easier for an influencer to pretend to be an expert then it is for an expert to be an influencer.
And that is why we are no longer in the age of information, thanks to social media we are in the age of influence.
Daniel Meyer heads both Sonic Analytics and Sonic Virtual Staffing, sister companies that deliver both data analytics solutions and virtual staffing to businesses in the United States and the Philippines. With over 20 years in Big Data and Virtual Staffing, Dan is one of the most sought-after public speakers in Asia and offers big data coaching and analytics training seminars on both sides of the Pacific.
Sonic Analytics(www.sonicanalytics.com) brings big data analytics solutions like business intelligence, business dashboards and data storytelling to small and medium sized organizations looking to enhance their data-driven decision-making capabilities.
Sonic Virtual Staffing (www.sonicva.com) brings virtual staffing solutions like graphic design, social media management, video editing and specialized virtual assistants for authors and professional speakers to small and medium sized organizations looking to scale on a budget and looking for dynamic staffing options.
When not training current and future analysts, you can find Dan championing the use of analytics to empower data-driven citizenship by volunteering his expertise with schools and non-profits dedicated to evidence-based social progress.