Anatomy of a social media influencer

We live in a world of rapidly exchanged messages. We are bombarded with millions of tweets, memes, videos, images, likes. What is really important?

A lot depends on what you feed your brain. Who you follow and what the recommend. Influencers are visible across platforms and they are winning in the social media world with their messages.

Here I am identifying eight characteristics of an effective social media influencer.

People with passion can change the world for better. — Steve Jobs
  • An agent of positive change

Influencers want to change the world for the better. Whether it is seeing the possibility in a new technology, the benefits of fitness or ideas in parenting, influencers strive to make the world better.

  • Researcher with originality

Influencers research and surface the ideas with the greatest promise. They see emerging patterns and new voices.

About ten years back I saw an article, an award winning research at Harvard titled “Just because I am nice don’t assume I am stupid” by professor Amy Cuddy. It was a particularly interesting line of thought and research.

The idea later expanded, became a TED talk and grew in popularity to become the most famous TED talk ever and a bestselling book called Presence.

  • Influencers are connectors

Influencers connect ideas, theories, possibilities, people, products and platforms. John Marda, the design professor, BJ Fogg, the behavior scientist at Harvard, Susan Cain, the writer, Howard Gardner, the professor at Harvard, Bob Sutton, the Stanford professor have all started mini revolutions with their path breaking thoughts and ideas.

  • Spot a trend early

Influencers sift through hundreds of ideas and spot trends early.

  • Be willing to be influenced

It is difficult to not be influenced by others while you are trying to influence others. There is always a give and take that is involved in social media influence.

  • Influencers are data driven

Influencers eek data and build their hypotheses on data. When there is evidence and information that challenges their biases they change their views.

  • Inhale complexity, breathe out simplicity

Steve Jobs had a masterful message of promoting iPods — 1,000 songs in your pocket. He took technical and difficult concepts and explained them in a memorable way. Take for instance expressing a goal -


Can be used to express a score of 70% market share by the year 2017.

In order to create a simple message that sticks ask the question what is the overriding goal or the single most important metric of success.

There is a famous story about Goldman Sachs in a board planning meeting for future, someone just showed a whiteboard with the number $1 billion written on it. It was an aspirational goal for the company at the time. There were some dismissive laughs at first but then the message stuck and there was applause. It got everyone to focus attention on the goal in a way that lengthy presentations would never have.

  • Clarity of thought and expression

A visual, a graphic, a cartoon, a quote, an info graphic, a presentation can often say a lot more than a lengthy speech.

Amazon has the practice of making their senior leaders write six page proposals to being clarity, detail, thoroughness in their proposals. Similarly, many companies use the tool of one page proposals to summarize the most important points succinctly and on point.

Influencers excel in clarity of thought and expression to illustrate a point.

Based on the article from my blog —