What’s an Influencer?

Am I an Influencer?Am I an Influencer?

The other day I posted a story about the quick decline in Covid-19 cases in the US since Biden became president. I got pushback from a few friends who remarked that there was not necessarily a direct correlation between the two events and that I should be careful what I write as I’m an influencer. That kind of tickled me to think that I am influencing anyone. That said, I’ve been sending out a monthly email newsletter, The Eleven, since 2008 and it reaches over 6,000 inboxes and I have a healthy number of friends and followers on various social media platforms. Then, this question became even more interesting when I received an email from Intellifluence the other day.

Like many people, I receive a ton of emails trying to interest me in upping my SEO, website look and feel, and Google ranking – on a daily basis. Usually, I delete them just like you do, but I decided to click on this particular one and now here we are talking about social influencing. I tend to think of influencers these days as people who get paid to share or show off products for pay. My version of influence or the way that I think of what I do in the world is usually more often trying to get someone to change their behavior in some way – often with an environmental goal in mind. Stop cutting down trees. Don’t use gas-powered lawn equipment. My hope is to keep the planet as habitable as possible and so I write and create videos around topics that hopefully will sway someone to shift their behavior a little bit. And sometimes I think I’m making a difference.

For instance the group I’m working with to end the use of gas-powered leaf blowers, QCPDX, recently ordered 10,000 door hangers to be spread around the Portland, Oregon metro area. Even if just a few people change their behavior it will make living in Portland a little better. The air will be cleaner. There will be less noise. But that’s not all – we’re also encouraging people to visit our website and when they do it’s likely they’ll join our newsletter so that we can reach out to them from time to time with whatever we’re doing. That’s another level of influence.

I guess maybe I am an influencer after all. I keep thinking about the Wizard of Oz and whether I’m a good influencer or a bad influencer? It actually matters to me a lot what types of things I get behind, so I hope I’m mostly a good influencer. And, I suppose it’s an ongoing experiment as we each live our lives we figure out what makes sense. Something that I might have gotten behind a few years ago might not work for me now in 2021. This came up recently when I was invited to join an MLM. The products seemed fantastic and I’m still enjoying them. As I got drawn further into the business and became a distributor, though, I realized that every product shipped out would end up leading to another delivery van driving down residential streets. If not in front of my house, in front of someone else’s. So, I decided to not become a distributor and it was a good decision for me for now.

I’m looking forward to continuing to think about this topic and learn what it means to be an influencer, and if I’m going to be one, how to be a good one 🙂  Thank you for reading – feel free to leave comments below. I’m always open to feedback.

Albert Kaufman, Portland, Oregon, 3.11.2021

NextDoor.com – The Future Is Here

NextDoor.com – A Great New Way to Meet Your Neighbors and Build Community

nextdoor.com

If you’ve been anywhere near me in the last year or two, or have been reading my newsletter, you’ll know I’ve been doing my best to spread the word about NextDoor.com.

I have been a fan of local all my life. I love the idea of the 20 minute neighborhood – being able to walk to everything you need in 20 minutes – which leads to less car use and having a lighter impact on the Earth. It leads to a lot of other benefits, as well. Not being in a car means you use other modes of transportation such as walking, biking and roller-skating. And while you’re out you end up meeting your neighbors and catching up – sometimes learning important news that you wouldn’t find out any other way. Knowing who lives around you also creates safety as everyone can keep an eye on things. This is what life used to be like in village days of yore. We’ve lost much of this familiarity as the United States has developed suburbs and we’ve designed our world to fit the car rather than what’s best for our thriving.

Enter the internet and social media platform, nextdoor.com. Nextdoor is a combination of social media worlds that many of us are familiar with (particularly, Facebook). Once you’ve signed up (which is a simple process where you, a real person, living at a real address are verified) you suddenly land in the neighborhood you live in on-line. There’s a newsfeed where you can see what your neighbors have posted, and you can also view the feed of your surrounding neighborhoods. For me, that’s North Richmond, Portland, Oregon = 200+ members, and the greater area about 2,000 members. I can connect to the people on my block, or to all the people in about a mile radius around me.

What I’ve seen so far is a mixture of things. People use NextDoor to offer each other extra of what they have (fruit was popular last Summer), kind of like Freecycle, which I helped jumpstart in 2003. The conversations are about everything from people seeking recommendations for home improvements; bodyworkers; tech support; local events; to neighborhood-watch type notifications about break-ins; missing pets and the like.  There’s also a fair bit of discussion about how our neighborhoods are developing. Currently, in the neighborhood I live in there has been an increase in old houses being torn down to be replaced by much larger scale buildings and that’s led to a lot of discussion of where we’re headed as a neighborhood and city.  These type of discussions used to happen on community discussion lists and at neighborhood council meetings, but this new forum provides an opportunity to use collaborative technology at the neighborhood level.  Without ads! Then, there are the yardsales and notices from the City and other odds and ends – things for sale; re-posts of Craigs List ads; homes for sale or rent; and new groups forming (the first of these I have seen is a local singles group).

There are many reasons why I am so gung-ho about Nextdoor.com. As someone who has been involved in high-tech for years, I am always excited when I see something come along that will help on a local level. I see this as that – a way for us all to get closer – to build community resilience through locals being in each others’ lives more. To make local bonds rather than keeping up networks that take a lot of fossil fuel to maintain. NextDoor also dovetails with another passion of mine: Farm My Yard. Farm My Yard is an effort to connect homeowners who have sunny yards with those who have urban farming skills and would like to grow food, but are lacking the space to do it. I also see Farm My Yard as a possible youth employment/business opportunity. In my dream I see teenagers using the Farm My Yard agreements and walking their neighborhoods to find a few yards to farm. This can and does lead to real income; vegetables for all; and less trips to the grocery store for everyone.

Farm My Yard

So, for me, it’s all coming together – and, I hope, we’re coming together. I see these types of developments leading to something fantastic in the future. Nextdoor.com is not perfect yet – it doesn’t always correctly identify neighborhood boundaries; the tech support can be iffy; disputes are left up to neighborhood “leaders” who sometimes make questionable calls; and I’m sure there are other imperfections, as well. That said, for now, this is one horse I am betting on! And, I recommend, if you’re not a member yet that you give it a try and see what you find. If you have comments, please leave them below.

For a better world,

Albert Kaufman
February 21, 2015

Update: 6.25.18Here’s a new article about Nextdoor by yours truly – about How to use it effectively for neighborhood change

March 4, 2015 NYT Article

9.24.15 – My neighbors pulled together via a great conversation on Nextdoor.com to preserve some giant trees and build community at the same time in Portland, Oregon, The United States.

NEXTDOOR2 – neighborhood change

NEXTDOOR3 – how to build a local community via Nextdoor.com

NEIGHBORHOOD NOTES – The main issues 

2015-09-22 09.46.51

 

Grab a Paddle!
and receive my marketing checklist. Click here to discover what's further downriver. 
Sign Me Up!
Not right now...
close-link