In 1968, Andy Warhol said, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”. Last month, I had the honor of playing a small part in a big story that demonstrated the power the SAP Mentors (the most influential SAP Community Network members) yield in the SAP ecosystem. This ‘campaign’ even created its own hashtag on Twitter (#nataschatoteched) which according to my latest count produces over 1,300 hits on Google.
At the request (or should I say challenge?) of John Appleby (one of the SAP Mentors that fueled this story), I felt compelled to share some of my thoughts on the relevance of Andy Warhol’s famous words in today’s social-everything world. So, what are the differences between a celebrity and today’s influencer?
- True influence: While celebrities may have very large mass appeal, their ability to influence someone to take an action they would otherwise not have is low. I recently read this Mashable article quoting a Twitter study that found that the true influence of today’s celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher and Lady Gaga is very low, despite their very large following on Twitter.
- Mass appeal versus opt-in: The emergence of mass media in the 1960s produced many celebrities that had broad appeal and cut across demographic and geographic boundaries. It was very difficult not to have heard of The Beatles in the 1960s, but how many people had heard of Don Knuth, known by many as the elder statesman of modern computer science? Today’s influencers have a much narrower sphere of influence, but are nevertheless known, respected and followed by an audience who chooses to listen to them.
- Focus on relationships: In an opt-in environment, influencers have to work much harder to stand out and have to focus on building trust-based relationships with their audience. Since we all have the option to opt-out, authenticity, trust, and relationships become very important.
So while most influencers today may never reach Jim Morrison’s fame and notoriety, I would argue that their true influence is much higher. What do you think? Would you rather have your fifteen minutes of fame or help (a.k.a. influence) others to make the right decision?