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As urban culture experts, The Watch-Men Agency calls for influence to mean something again. We are embedded in the fabric of culture and communication, and relentlessly seek out the creative doers that are the cornerstone of influence. For brands, we build valuable partnerships and relationships that drive influence through stories and experiences.

Most organisations and brands acknowledge the role of influence in communication. But there is evidence that, with the rise of social media, many brands now have a limited, one-dimensional view of influence.

In this view, influence is measured only in terms of follower count. Brand mention is all, and little thought is given to quality of engagement, deeper connections or storytelling opportunities. Here, social influencers are simply the latest avatars in the cult of celebrity. These cultural figureheads become filters for what is important, but limit the possibilities for dialogue and enlightenment.

This thinking is flawed on many levels. Studies have shown that micro-influencers are often more valuable and efficient than those in the middle ranks that are considerably more expensive.

But there are more fundamental flaws. The ‘one size fits all’ view of influence inevitably leads to content overkill, quantity over quality. It does not do justice to the brands themselves, their purpose and values, or the stories they have to tell.

It’s time to re-connect to a more sophisticated view of influence. One in which pioneers and early adopters play a crucial role in telling the story. And in which the influencers themselves are viewed as three-dimensional beings, with complexity and depth, rather than simply as a magnet for followers and ‘likes’.

In this world, there are people who follow their own path and make their own mark – in music, art, film, design, sport, writing, spoken word and poetry, fashion and other fields.  They find ways to do so irrespective of money, location, or prevailing trends. They reject mainstream structures, systems or restrictions.

These are people who may choose to engage with a brand or organisation if that brand has a compelling story or insightful idea, and can offer a genuine value exchange. They will then invest time, mind and energy to turn that idea into an experience.

It’s the quality of that experience – engaging, immersive, participative – that will fuel people’s desire to share. It will fuel their own social relationships. That is influence in action, and a better, more nuanced and ultimately more powerful kind of influence.

This is the kind of influence that The Watch-Men Agency values, and that we build with our partners. Together, we create change, we shape our world.