The cultural democratization that the internet ushered in generated a deluge of influencers across every industry and micro category one can imagine.  While many may be familiar with the Shorty Awards which is celebrating it tenth year, there is a new awards show making it debut this year simply called the Influencer Awards by Digital Hollywood.

Of course this immediately begs the question, what defines any influencers and what is the true quantifiable value that influencers bring?  In a world where social media's black market is filled with bots and trolls, it is impossible to nominate or judge influencer awards without trudging through the sludge of social media fraud. The New York Times did a startling expose on this topic last month uncovering that "nearly 15 percent (of Twitter accounts) -- are automated accounts designed to simulate real people," and Facebook reported "60 million automated accounts" or fake accounts run by bots.

With so many fake followers should we really be giving the awards to bots?  Are there any governance measures that can be imposed on companies that perpetuate and encourage this behavior?  Fortunately, many brands and marketers are favoring Instagram these days, which was rated the No. 1 platform for 92 percent of influencers in 2017. On the video side, YouTube stars are allegedly "more influential than traditional celebrities."

This deserves to be a topic of great debate, and for those in the New York Metro area there is an open forum on this topic next week, Wednesday, March 7 at the Czech Center and Consulate in Manhattan.  I am personally a part of this forum during which we will openly discuss the appropriate governance, guidelines and code of ethics for the awards.  Voting will occur in late April and the actual awards will be given in October in Los Angeles. The categories and nominees are all open to public scrutiny, meaning anyone around the world can provide input and feedback into this living and breathing list.  

In an age where virtually everyone is seeking to create or bask in the halo of someone's 15 minutes of fame, this topic is a compelling one, and regardless of your field it is worth reflecting on how influencers impact your personal and professional life, and steer your preferences or decision making.  As it relates to your brand, if you haven't already considered the following, now's the time to ask yourself:

  • Who are the relevant influencers in your field?
  • How aware of your brand are these influencers?
  • What is your current influencer activity?
  • Could you do a better job of reacting to or incorporating industry hot topics into the content you publish/share?