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3 reasons why the term “influencer” is a bad job description for “influencers”

The term “influencer” is a buzz word in influencer marketing and social media. The term is used to refer to individuals who create and share content on social media such as videos, pictures, podcast or blogs. However, increasingly the term “influencer” is becoming an insult to content creators. In this post, we describe 3 reasons why the term “influencer” does not accurately reflect their work.

1. We all are influencers
We all have influence on other people, and we all influence each other. Literally speaking, we are all influencers. However, we differ by the potential reach of people we might influence.

In our post “10 terms in influencer marketing you should know” we define the terms influencers and content creators and their relationship.

2. Content creators influence and are influenced

Social media allows for two-way communication. Content creators influence their audience through their content on their social media profiles with which the audience may engage via likes, comments or shares. This audience engagement, in turn, may influence the content creators as well. As such, the relationship between content creators and audience does not represent a traditional sender-receiver relationship, but rather that of a mutual relationship.

3. Content creators do and create more than influence

The term “influencer” does not effectively encompass the effort and know-how required in creating engaging content. The formats of content on social media are very different and require different skills. For example, a beauty tutorial on YouTube requires knowledge and qualification in fields such as beauty and video production. In contrast, interviews on Podcast require skills in fields such as preparing, conducting, and executing good interviews.

Therefore, we believe the term “content creator” is a much better description for individuals who create and share content on their social media profiles.


Jana Gross is a PhD student at ETH Zurich. Her research is about social media and influencer marketing. The world of social media fascinates her. She shares her fascination and knowledge on current topics in social media and influencer marketing with us. In the context of our joint blog series, she regularly writes posts on our blog in the upcoming weeks.

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