October 20, 2023

The Evolution of Influencers: Tracing the Journey from Historical Figures to Social Media Stars

Welcome to the fascinating world of influencers, a diverse group of individuals who have shaped societies, trends, and ideas throughout history.

The Evolution of Influencers: Tracing the Journey from Historical Figures to Social Media Stars

Picture this: we're stepping into a time machine, setting the dial and zipping back to ancient Rome. Suddenly, we're rubbing shoulders with Cleopatra and Julius Caesar, hanging onto their every word as they share tales of political intrigue and military strategies. It feels like we've just walked into a live history lesson.

Before we know it, the time machine is whirring again, and now we're in the 18th century. We're having a cuppa with Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III. As we take a sip from her fancy Wedgwood tea set, we can't help but admire the skill and elegance that went into making each piece. It's like holding a piece of art history in our hands.

But hold on, we're not done yet. The time machine is taking us forward to the 20th century, right into the heart of a fashion show. And who's that on the runway? It's Coco Chanel herself, revealing her latest collection. The room is buzzing with excitement as we watch the vibrant fabrics and innovative designs come to life. It's a breathtaking glimpse into the evolution of style.

Now, let's bring it back to today. When we talk about influencers, we're not just talking about the fitness buffs promoting protein bars on Instagram. We're talking about the people who, throughout history, have shaped our societies, trends, and ideas with their actions and words. So, let's take a closer look at how the concept of influence has changed over time.

Pre-Media Age Influencers

Queen Elizabeth I as a social media influencer

Imagine a world before newspapers, radio, or TV. People became influencers because of their achievements, their ideas, or simply because they were born into royalty. while the methods of influence in the pre-media age were quite different from those of today, they were still effective. Through interpersonal communication, public speaking, written correspondence, and printed materials, influencers were able to reach their audiences and make a lasting impact. Despite the lack of modern technology, these influencers understood their audiences and how to engage them - a testament to the enduring power of effective communication.

Here are some notable influencers from this era:

Julius Caesar (100 BC - 44 BC): Picture a game of chess, but instead of pieces, there are nations and the players are leaders. Julius Caesar was a pro at this game, his strategic decisions transforming the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. Think of him as the compass that steered Rome during a time of significant upheaval.

Cleopatra (69 BC - 30 BC): Imagine a grand party where politicians mingle and power is the currency. Cleopatra was the star of the show, using her smarts, charisma, and political savvy to navigate the tricky waters of power politics.

Joan of Arc (1412 - 1431): Visualize a brutal storm symbolizing the Hundred Years' War. Joan of Arc was the beacon of light guiding the French people, offering hope and resistance against incredible odds.

Muhammad (570 - 632): Think of a tree providing shelter to countless followers. Muhammad was the seed that sprouted this tree, establishing Islam, one of the world's major religions.

William Shakespeare (1564 -1616): Consider language as a vast sea, its waves molded by the winds of culture and time. Shakespeare was the wind that reshaped this sea, his works having a profound impact on English language and literature.

Queen Elizabeth I (1533 - 1603): Picture a golden sunrise heralding the dawn of a new day. Queen Elizabeth's reign was that sunrise, marking the beginning of a golden era in English history.

Isaac Newton (1643 - 1727): Visualize a jigsaw puzzle with pieces all over the place. Newton was the guy who put these pieces together, his theories forming the foundation for modern physics and helping us understand the physical world.

Jane Austen (1775 - 1817): Imagine a mirror reflecting societal norms and expectations. Jane Austen's novels were that mirror, highlighting women's reliance on marriage in a world offering them limited options.

Marie Curie (1867 - 1934): Think of a dark room symbolizing the unexplored territories of science. Marie Curie was the one who lit the candle, her pioneering research in radioactivity opening new doors and earning her two Nobel Prizes.

Influencers from the Mass Media Age

Elvis Presley checking from social media what people are talking about him

Fast forward to the era of mass media – print, radio, and television. Now, influence could reach millions of people, not just those in immediate circles. Here are some influencers from this era:

Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955): Picture a sailor lost at sea. Einstein was like the North Star guiding us through the vast ocean of theoretical physics with his theory of relativity, changing our perception of the universe.

Coco Chanel (1883 - 1971): Think of fashion as a tight, uncomfortable pair of shoes. Coco Chanel was like the pair of comfy sneakers that came along. Her designs prioritized comfort and simplicity, shaking up women's fashion.

Mahatma Gandhi (1869 - 1948): Imagine a world filled with aggression and hate. Gandhi was the calm voice in the chaos, advocating for peace and non-violence, leaving a global impact.

Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965): Visualize a ship in a stormy sea. Churchill was the steadfast captain guiding Britain through the World War II storm, bolstering his country with his leadership.

Mother Teresa (1910 - 1997): In a world often cold to suffering, Mother Teresa was a warm blanket offering aid and compassion through her humanitarian efforts.

Elvis Presley (1935 - 1977): Consider music as a still pond. Elvis was the pebble thrown in, creating ripples that grew into the wave of rock-and-roll.

Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 -1968): In a society scarred by racial inequality, King was the megaphone that amplified the call for justice, forever changing America through his fight for equality.

Anne Frank (1929 - 1945): Amid the countless victims of the Holocaust, Anne Frank's diary gave a face to the tragedy, reminding us of the human lives affected.

Muhammad Ali (1942 - 2016): In the boxing world, Ali was more than a champ. He also fought societal battles, advocating for civil rights and leaving an enduring legacy.

Margaret Thatcher (1925 - 2013): Picture Britain as a block of clay. Thatcher was the artist, reshaping the country's economy during her time as the first female Prime Minister.

Nelson Mandela (1918 - 2013): Amidst the harsh reality of apartheid, Mandela was the pickaxe that chipped away at the walls of racial segregation, transforming South Africa.

Princess Diana (1961 - 1997): In a world where genuine kindness can be rare, Princess Diana was a shining light of empathy and compassion. Her humanitarian work and unique style made her a global icon.

Stephen Hawking (1942 - 2018): Think of the universe as a vast, uncharted desert. Hawking was the brave explorer who ventured into the unknown, his black hole research changing our understanding of the cosmos.

Modern Digital Era - Rise of The Social Media Influencers

Selena Gomez as President of the United States

Next stop, the modern era. Imagine the modern era as a vast digital highway. Initially, influencers used the lanes of blogs, communities, and forums to drive their messages across. Then came the colossal billboards of social media - so massive and eye-catching that many began to mistake all influencers as solely social media influencers. But that's not the whole story. With the rise of platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, it's true that many influencers found a rocket to stardom. However, let's not forget the influencers who took a different route. They've made their mark in fields like business, academia, or the arts. For them, social media is less of a launching pad and more of a megaphone - a way to amplify their voice and connect with their audience. Generally speaking, a prerequisite for becoming a world leader is political experience. But not always. Over the years, presidents, prime ministers and legislators have come from all walks of life. In their previous careers some were musicians, athletes or celebrities — even comedians. First you have to become influencer in your area and after that, who knows is next President of the United States going to be Selena Gomez, Mark Zuckerberg or The Rock. It would not be surprising. Do you remember this Donald Trump person?

So next time you scroll through your social media feeds, remember: behind every influencer there's a unique journey. Not all roads to influence are paved with likes and shares. Some wind through boardrooms, laboratories, art studios, and beyond. The term 'influencer' is a broad one, encompassing a diverse spectrum of individuals shaping our world, both on and off social media.

Some notable figures from this era:

Narendra Modi (born 1950) Imagine a leader who uses social media like a bridge to connect with his people. That's Modi for you, the Prime Minister of India, who's found a fresh way to communicate politically in the digital age.

Barack Obama (born 1961) Picture a huge wave of change sweeping across a country. Riding high on this wave, we have Obama, whose election as the first Black president of the United States marked a historic step towards equality.

Lisa Randall (born 1962) Think about a complicated puzzle of scientific theories. Who's solving it? It's Randall. Her work in theoretical physics gives us a clearer understanding of the universe around us.

J.K. Rowling (born 1965) Imagine a magical world hidden just out of sight. Rowling is like the gatekeeper, her Harry Potter series opening this world to readers everywhere.

Michelle Obama (born 1964) Picture a garden brimming with fresh veggies and fruits, each one reminding us of the importance of healthy living. That's the garden Michelle Obama, as the First Lady of the United States, tended with her Let's Move campaign, encouraging kids to eat healthier and be more active.

Sheryl Sandberg (born 1969) Imagine a corporate ladder, each rung representing a new challenge and reward. Climbing that ladder is Sandberg, whose role as Facebook's COO and advocacy for women leaders has left a significant impact on the business world.

Dr. Neil de Grasse Tyson (born 1958) Visualize a vast cosmos filled with stars and planets, each holding its own mysteries. Dr. Tyson is like our cosmic guide, making astrophysics understandable and exciting for everyone through his work.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (born 1972) Imagine a wrestler who transitioned to become a beloved actor, his performances leaving audiences worldwide entertained. That's "The Rock", his charisma and talent resonating with people everywhere.

Elon Musk (born 1971) Picture a rocket soaring towards the stars, symbolizing human ambition. Musk is the dreamer behind this vision, pushing the limits of what we think is possible with his ventures in electric cars and space exploration.

Padma Lakshmi (born 1970) Think of a delicious blend of flavors, each one a unique ingredient. That's Lakshmi's creation, introducing us to a world of culinary delights through her work as a chef, author, and host of Top Chef.

Lionel Messi (born 1987) Picture a football player weaving through defenders like a dancer. That's Messi, whose skill on the field has inspired countless fans and young athletes around the world.

Priyanka Chopra (born 1982) Picture a spotlight that shines not just on the stage, but also highlights important social issues. That's where Chopra stands, using her influence as an actress and philanthropist to advocate for women's rights and education.

Mark Zuckerberg (born 1984) Visualize a social network that spans the globe. Zuckerberg is the mastermind behind this network, co-founding Facebook and changing the way we connect with each other.

Dianna Cowern (born 1989) Imagine a classroom where physics isn't just a subject, but an exciting adventure. Cowern, better known as Physics Girl on YouTube, is the enthusiastic teacher leading us on this journey, making physics enjoyable for all.

Selena Gomez (born 1992) Picture a song that touches millions, its rhythm reflecting their aspirations. Gomez is the voice behind this melody, her successful music career amplified by her strong social media presence.

Malala Yousafzai (born 1997) Imagine a young girl standing strong against the storm of inequality, her voice echoing louder than the thunder. That brave girl is Malala, who despite threats to her life, fought for girls' education in Pakistan, inspiring millions around the world with her courage.
Khaby Lame (born 2000) Picture a mundane, everyday task turned into a viral sensation. That's Lame for you, whose hilariously straightforward TikTok videos debunk over-complicated life hacks, reminding us that common sense is often the best solution. His content bridges the language barrier, proving humor is universal and resonating with millions worldwide.

The Future of Influence: The Micro-Influencer Movement Begins

Micro-influencer enjoying her success

As we approach the end of our journey, let's take a moment to step into the era of micro-influencers. Picture these influencers as the friendly locals in a small town - they may not have millions of followers, but their bond with their audience is strong and authentic. They could be specialists in their fields, trailblazers, mentors, or artists. They could even be... well, they could be you.

Imagine sharing your love for baking or your gift for playing the guitar, offering your professional insights, or simply expressing your unique viewpoint. You can create a ripple effect. Remember, influence isn't about the size of your follower count; it's about the difference you make. So, step out there and tell your story. Who knows? You might just be the next influencer sensation everyone's talking about!

Dream big, start small. Yes, in this digital age, anyone can become an influencer. If the term 'influencer' seems intimidating or annoying, consider yourself a thought-leader in your industry or area of expertise. In today's world, you can carve out a successful career doing anything you're passionate about. Just be true to who you are and get started. Your journey towards becoming an influencer begins with a single step.
Written by

Rami Salomaa

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