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  • Writer's pictureCherise Adams

Are You Influenced?


Black influencer in red dress with luggage boarding a private plane.
Photo by @ItsNkenge on Instagram

The term influencer has been a buzzword recently, as people are discovering that they can work for themselves, making money as an internet thought leader on various subjects. Long gone are the days when a Ph.D. or two-page resume solidifies your stance as a trustworthy source; now, following is king.


As a professional in the communications field, I know that the Magic Bullet Theory - the idea that mass media can shoot ideas straight into their audiences' brains to be taken as fact - is improbable at best. Data at your fingertips makes it difficult for communicators to cut through the noise and captivate their desired audience. This is why the Two-Step Flow Theory makes much more sense as we draft strategy. As humans, we naturally seek verification for the information we gather. For example, if we think something might not taste good, we ask our friends and family if they've tasted it before and seek advice. We know who we can trust based on their relationship to us and to the food, and make our decision from there. Such is the same with the Two-Step Flow Theory, which theorizes that mass media is best ingested through an opinion leader that their audience can trust. Mr. Sinn on Youtube goes into deeper detail about this and presents examples like Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and Sean Hannity as examples.


So back to the concept of being influenced... do you naturally conform to the Two-Step Flow Theory as you receive information? As an avid watcher of shows like Last Week Tonight, CBS This Morning, and The Daily Show, I was unaware that this theory so easily explained the phenomena of news television. Of course, we consume information better when we receive it processed through a thought leader that meets and easily speaks to our demographic! However, I don't find myself truly influenced by social media content creators for a number of reasons. First, so many of them are not actually thought leaders. Don't get me wrong, I respect what they have to say, but most topics like food, lifestyle, motherhood, and travel are all entirely subjective, so being an expert in these highly personal areas just doesn't make sense. Secondly, though the Instagram algorithm might disagree, I'll need more than an impressive follower count to be influenced, I want credentials. And lastly, sincerity. If I am to be influenced, it will be by someone who has a true passion for the topics that they are discussing. I am not going to trust just anyone with complex topics like the political issues in Palestine or even the health benefits of circumcision. If your content doesn't feel genuine, the rest of the world can feel it too.


So now, I ask you, are you influenced? Who do you consider a thought leader in an area that matters to you and why?

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