On Becoming an Impactful Young Influencer

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One afternoon, at the Barbershop, “Mr. Xavier, can I take your picture?” said the owner of the shop. “What is the picture for?” I asked spontaneously.
“We’d like to put it up on our Instagram page. In return, we will cut your hair for free,” he added.
“Why do you want me on your page?”
“You have lots of IG followers, so we are hoping to use the picture to promote our shop,” said the young owner with a friendly smile.

At my office, one evening, a young woman came and asked me, “Mr. Xavier, Do you have a few minutes for a chat?”.
“What is the interview for?” my question was identical to the one I blurted out to the Barbershop owner.
“It’s for the content on my YouTube account.”
After a brief interview, the young executive said, “Also, can I ask for a small favour, Mr. Xavier?”
When I nodded my head, she handed me a bottle of health product while saying, “Could you please hold this bottle while I take a picture?”
This time I didn’t ask “What for?” again because I was able to guess where this was going. I guessed it correctly. She wanted me to be an influencer for her premium health products.

Today, online marketing has become like a “Chief Commander”.
Older style advertising products – for example, printed media such as the newspapers, magazines and tabloids are out of date – obsolete, even. A high number of gadget users, especially in Indonesia, results in a high number of netizens. Even the older generation are capable users of smartphones these days.
I’m no longer young, yet I can be an influencer, how much more the younger generation. What exactly are their strengths?

Firstly, since they are still young, their ideas are not only creative, but also crazy. Jongko Joyoboyo, a well-known Javanese poet whose thoughts are widely quoted, once said something that roughly translates to, “… There will come a time when people go crazy, and those who remain conventional won’t get any part in the world.
However, no matter how lucky the crazies get, it is still more fortunate to be one who is alert and cautious…”
His unique way of thinking has now become a reality. Ideas that were once considered crazy, are now common goods. What was impossible now has become an everyday occurrence.

Secondly, young people nowadays not only have brilliant minds but also ideas that were unimaginable in the olden days.
Back then, if children were asked what their ideals are, they would quickly say:
Doctor.
Engineer.
Police or Army officer.
Let’s try asking today’s children about their ideals, and you ‘ll get answers such as:
Blogger.
Vlogger.
Influencer.
Terms that even in my youth did not exist at all.

Thirdly, young people have an excess energy that enables them to do anything – better if it is directed to positive causes – to realize their ideals. 
I experienced one example. Not only was I asked to help promote a barbershop and health products, a young couple in their twenties requested me to visit their cafe and asked me to become an influencer to promote the café. “Whenever Mr. Xavier comes, we’ll give you a free coffee,” they said.
“Just coffee?” I joked, to which they replied almost immediately, “…and also the food!”

If I can be an influencer, a field designed for the younger generation, at this age, how much easier would it be for someone younger and with a lot more followers than I?

What are the impacts?

Firstly, they can get creative from a young age. We would regret it if we used our time unwisely. Remember, time flies! When my son Jonathan was still in college in Melbourne, on his birthday, I could not be with him to celebrate it. Instead, I sent a gift titled What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20 by Tina Seelig.

Secondly, they are no longer trapped by mainstream professions. Times change and it changes so fast. The only thing that does not change is the change itself. If these youngsters won’t change and adapt, they would become like dinosaurs. They simply extinct.

Thirdly, they can make money at a very early age. A child who becomes a toy product influencer, for instance, can make money in a way that doesn’t make sense to his parents or the older generation.
“How can they do that?” the older generation would ask, “When only experience and hard work can make people successful and rich!” 
They do not realize—perhaps because of lack of information — that companies run by young people now flood the market. Isn’t Mark Elliot Zuckerberg successful through FaceBook? He is just one example of the many young people who succeed at a young age.

Well, being an influencer sounds amazing, right? I have a message for you – from a parent to the young ones – Be an influencer with positive message, be a force for good.  
“Influence is when you are not the one talking and yet your words fill the room; when you are absent and your presence is felt everywhere”, TemitOpe Ibrahim, the author of the book The Secrets to Your Win. 

I agree with him. What we upload on social media can still be read by people, even when we are long gone; because our digital traces can still be tracked. Isn’t that right, young influencer?

Xavier Quentin Pranata, painter of life on the canvas of the soul and cyberspace.