Does Being an Influencer Mean Anything Anymore? Does being an "influencer" really mean anything anymore? And if so, how can we thrive in an era with deteriorating public trust?

By Timothy Carter

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

A few years ago, you could have made the claim that we were in the "era of the influencer," where influential experts on social media held tremendous power to direct narratives, persuade followers and even motivate purchasing decisions.

Today, I'd argue we're entering the "post-influencer" era, where declining trust in influencers (and in each other) and the over saturation of the term are leading to backlash and degeneration of the concept.

Does being an "influencer" really mean anything anymore? And if so, how can we thrive in an era with deteriorating public trust?

Content dilution and over saturation

Let's start by examining the roots of the problem. Accessibility and universal connectedness are hallmarks of an open internet; anyone with an internet connection can create a social media profile, write content, publish their thoughts and attempt to build an audience. This has been powerful in many ways, allowing minority perspectives to gain an audible voice and connecting us to people we might have otherwise overlooked.

Related: Fixing the ROI Problem With Influencer Marketing

But this has also led to content over saturation. Content marketing is a powerful strategy, and most people realize that, scaling their efforts to produce as much content and reach as many people as possible. Most people are active on social media and eager to increase the size and scope of their audience. The end result is millions of people clamoring to become influencers in their own right — which dilutes the meaning of the term.

The abuse of influencers

We also need to acknowledge the presence of influencers attempting to abuse their status (and the term attached to them). Initially, some companies and restaurants were willing to extend discounts and freebies to known social influencers visiting their businesses. That quickly turned into influencers demanding special treatment wherever they went. At this point, we have businesses charging influencers more to prove a point.

This rapid evolution has given the term "influencer" a negative connotation, leading to eye-rolling and disparaging comments if someone tries to claim such a title in real life.

The paradox of being an influencer

There's also a kind of paradox at play with many influencers. Rather than introducing new ideas, new data or original concepts, they tap into the power of hive minds and echo chambers. Instead of volunteering narratives that challenge mainstream thought in a given industry, they play it safe and tell people what they want to hear.

In other words, influencers often build a platform based on reinforcing already established opinions. They become a voice of the sentiment of the masses, rather than a leader who guides the masses to a new sentiment.

It's a sad state of affairs, if an understandable one.

The modern influencer

Of course, influencers still exist in their purest form — as authoritative, influential individuals doing their best to objectively inform (and possibly entertain) the public. But to stand out in a sea of pseudo-influencers and manipulators, you'll have your work cut out for you.

Related: 8 Ways to Grow Your Audience to a Million Followers

Simple goals for aspiring influencers

Still want to capitalize on the benefits of influencer-hood? You'll need to work harder than ever in this modern, oversaturated environment.

  • Be true to yourself and your industry. Agreeing with mainstream opinions and giving people what they want may secure you some short-term popularity, but it's not going to solidify your position as a true leader. Remain true to your core principles, and to your industry as a whole.

  • Strive for accuracy and honesty. Instead of spouting random opinions or making baseless claims, strive for accuracy and honesty — even if that means holding back some of the comments you'd otherwise have. It's a slow process, but if you follow this, eventually, you'll earn more respect.

  • Focus on quality over quantity. In line with this, focus on quality over quantity. It's tempting and easy to publish new content on a constant basis — and in some ways it's advantageous. But you should never sacrifice the quality or integrity of your work to get more posts published.

  • Don't abuse your position. There are plenty of benefits to being an influencer, so you don't need to go out of your way to try and get other special advantages. Don't brag about your position or try to get special treatment because of your social media following.

  • Engage with others the right way. Understand the importance of having high-integrity, lively debates with others. Your opinion isn't the only one that matters, even if you're exceptionally well-informed. Additionally, you should listen to your followers — but not conform to all their whims.

In some ways, influencers will never really go away. As a society, we'll always be relying on experts and leaders to show us the way forward and introduce us to new concepts, regardless of what media or channels we're using to communicate. What's changed is the number of people aspiring to attain that position and the requirements to actually reach it.

Wavy Line
Timothy Carter

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Chief Revenue Officer of

Timothy Carter is the CRO of the Seattle digital marketing agency He has spent more than 20 years in the world of SEO & digital marketing leading, building & scaling sales operations, helping companies increase revenue efficiency and driving growth from websites and sales teams.

Editor's Pick

'Catastrophic': Here's What You Should Know About the Debt Ceiling Crisis — And How a Default Could Impact Your Business
I Helped Grow 4 Unicorns Over 10 Years That Generated $18 Billion in Online Revenues. Here's What I've Learned.
Want to Break Bad Habits and Supercharge Your Business? Use This Technique.
Don't Have Any Clients But Need Customer Testimonials? Follow These 3 Tricks To Boost Your Rep.
Why Are Some Wines More Expensive Than Others? A Top Winemaker Gives a Full-Bodied Explanation.

Related Topics

Business News

'All Hell Is Going to Break Loose': Barbara Corcoran Issues Warning About Real Estate Market, Interest Rates

The "Shark Tank" star appeared on FOX Business' "The Clayman Countdown" this week.

Business News

7 of the 10 Most Expensive Cities to Live in the U.S. Are in One State

A new report by U.S. News found that San Diego is the most expensive city to live in for 2023-2024, followed by Los Angeles. New York City didn't even rank in the top 10.

Money & Finance

3 Ways to Create Multiple (Big) Streams of Income

Here are three ways to create multiple streams of income. These strategies require effort and resources but offer significant financial potential.


The Real Reason Why The Return to Office Movement is Failing is Revealed in New Study

There is a vivid sign of the disconnect between employees and their workplace, a glaring indication that companies need to revise their scripts to improve their hybrid and remote work policies.

Science & Technology

She's Been Coding Since Age 7 and Presented Her Life-Saving App to Tim Cook Last Year. Now 17, She's on Track to Solve Even Bigger Problems.

Angelina Tsuboi, a full-stack mobile and web developer who also happens to be a pilot, has always been solution-oriented.

Business News

Roman Roy's 'Succession' T-Shirt Is a $7 Boys Shirt From Walmart — And Now It's Sold Out

Eagle-eyed fans noticed the uncharacteristic wardrobe choice in the series finale.