Leadership and Social Influence
World Economic Forum published top 10 job skills of tomorrow. In our blog series you will get a deeper dive into each one of these skills of tomorrow.
Do I really have to sell myself in social media – Social Influencing as a key future skill
When I came across a list of the ten most important working life skills in 2025 published by the World Economic Forum, the word social influence caught my eye. The word raised an immediate suspicion about Instagram influencers. However, since I was not sure I set out to find out what it really means and why this skill is considered such an important meta-skill for the near future.
Social influence is the ability to get another person or group of people to change their beliefs, attitudes or actions, either intentionally or without intent. Influencing is more subtle than persuasion. The affected person may not even be aware that they are changing their attitude or actions. In principle, social influencing happens because the influencer acts in a social situation (virtual or live) in a way that touches us as human beings. What is essential is a sense of reciprocity, identification or a desire for the same social status, the credibility, persuasiveness, and personal charm of the influencer’s messages.
The social influencer thus is able to tap in to the very core of the social mind of us humans and does this either consciously or unconsciously. The influencers feeds the need for acceptance and the desire of belonging.
My first guess was right the core of social influencing thrives on the oldest and strongest drivers of humanity upon which the social media has been built over the last 15 years.
Still, according to the World Economic Forum, social influencing is a skill that every professional should consciously develop and practice. What does this mean in practice? Do I have to start publishing my working life in social media? Is it in my daily responsibilities to describe from what kind of mug I drink my coffee from today? The highlight of the day could be a cool red delete button on my keyboard over which I’m collaborating with Dell’s marketing. Surely not – right? However, It’s still very likely that the good old ‘The quality of my work speaks for itself’ – approach is just not enough anymore.
The approach of organizations to this social influencing is ‘thought leadership’. The idea is to be the key player in your own chosen competitive landscape who the potential customers and competitors follow. The first to launch a new service, product or idea. The first to bring new ways to look at old problems. The thought leaders’ hungry followers, believers and advocates in their networks and are more successful and profitable because of it. Unfortunately, becoming a thought leader is not easy to achieve. It usually means years of systematic and deliberate work. Thought leadership is also fairly difficult to outsource. If you want to make an impact the actions should be very tightly connected to core competencies of the organization. This means that the publishing responsibility for the new perspectives and ideas inevitably flows to the experts in the organization.
If you view yourself as one it means that you don’t necessarily have to post about your latest coffee cup, but you do have to write, blog, script or talk in different professional and social media. You should be fluent enough to create interest in other people and even influence over their daily choices.
Thus, social influencing ultimately boils down to the ability to communicate and be enthusiastic about your abilities, interests and competencies so that you ignite the same in others. Easier said than done.
– Tauno Taajamaa