…And the blurred line! In the middle of a mentoring session this week, just as I was extolling the virtues of Instagram, the client stopped my train of thought with this great question:
I’m a professional, not an influencer…how do I keep that line while still promoting myself online?
Over the last few days, I’ve been mulling the answer to this question over and over in my mind. It’s such a valid question and I’m surprised that I haven’t thought more about it. It’s a common worry for many of my clients, but is often expressed more in terms of a wish to keep professional life separate from their personal life.
Let’s start with a look at how the roles of professional and influencer are defined:
According to the Oxford Dictionary, a professional is someone who does a job that needs special training and a high level of education.
A professional in a particular field conforms to the technical and ethical standards of that profession. They go through a defined period of training aimed at acquiring a skill that will be applied to solve a problem, generally in exchange for payment.
According to the Influencer Marketing Hub , An influencer is someone who has the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others because of his or her authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with his or her audience.
Influencers are usually hired and paid according to their degree of impact on the population (or target market of the company). This generally equates to their number of followers and likes/views that they have on social media.
They trade their experiences and lifestyles for visibility. The more visible they are, the more money they are paid to advertise a product, be a brand ambassador, and many other #perks!
Professionals on the other hand, are hired to offer a particular skill for which they have trained and obtained a certificate of learning. They have to acquire a skill and prove that they master it by practicing it over a prolonged period of time. The longer their experience, the more expensive their service generally becomes.
And therein for me lies the difference – a professional is paid to authenticate a product/service, whereas an Influencer is paid to solely promote it. It’s a very important difference, when you really think about it…and unfortunately, many people really don’t anymore.
So how do you define that line between professional and influencer in your own businesses marketing?
I think most people in business now appreciate the need to show personality and to build their brand’s story. This usually involves sharing some element of our personal lives – maybe our dog, our hobbies, or sharing our social causes and beliefs. And it nearly always involves putting our face and voice online, particularly in this age of stories, reels and Tiktoks.
There are a few key things that businesses can do to help them define themselves as professionals, while still being engaging and showing personality:
- Use your website and social media bio to promote your qualifications and experience.
- Deal in fact only – back up your opinions with your professional learnings.
- Don’t get caught up in fads. Stick to what promotes both your business and personal ethos most authentically (maybe say pass to the latest Tiktok challenge!).
- Worry about your clients, not the general masses. It’s business you want to attract, not likes and follows.
Despite the differences between professional and influencer, there’s an increasingly blurry line at times. Many professionals are now also influencers, and many do a great job at merging both to educate and engage with target markets. There can be a lot of value in that. But I do think it’s important for a professional to decide where the line is for them and, of course, that will vary from person to person.
So I was glad when my client raised that question this week. It’s definitely something I needed to be more aware of and to address more often with clients, especially in this ever-changing world of social media marketing and those blurry lines between work and life.
My final pointer to professionals is to believe in yourself – sounds obvious, but a lot of us get intimidated by Influencers. Don’t be, their job is different to yours! Those who have done a course with me will know that one of my favorite sayings in digital marketing is ‘Likes are for vanity, engagement for sanity’. That’s a mantra I live by – and I’d strongly advise you do too!