What I Learned about the Internet During Influence + Engage 2017

What I Learned about the Internet During Influence + Engage 2017

It’s no surprise that social media is a powerful platform and as more and more influencers rise with purpose, there is hope. Because the most valuable thing an influencer has is the trust of their audience and with great influence comes great responsibility.


On Friday the 13th — I took a trip to the SVA Theater for the Influence + Engage 2017 conference presented by The Social Edge where many professionals, influencers, experts, and like-minded people came together to discuss the best of social media and making a positive impact. Featuring speakers like internet supernova George Takei and wunderkind Ezra Klein, as well as loaded panels, there was much to learn as you’ll see below.

I'm never done learning or growing #influenceengage2017 ✊🏽

A post shared by Gina D. (@whatthedoost) on


Influence+Engage 2017 is the first and only event that explores the intersection of social influence and audience engagement.

This is what I learned in longhand notes ↓

Session #1 How To be Real, For Real
Speakers: Kathy Zucker, Chris Klemens, Kaeya Majmundar, and Bryan Moore.

  • Emotion is currency says Kathy Zucker about Instagram. Bringing people into your experience and making a deep connection with your audience is everything!
  • Anyone can go on YouTube and talk about anything. There’s an interesting dynamic between digital and real life, explains the hilarious Chris Klemens — “it allows me to do what I want, as I would want.”

How real do you get with your following?

  • Be you. Be real. It’s important to share that we’re human beings through good and bad times. This will build a stronger relationship with your audience because they go through it with you — explains Klemens.
  • “I want people to feel what my kid is feeling, because this is real and not going away.” — says Zucker on the presidential campaign.
  • For sponsored content — Originality and authenticity are the keys. Making sure that the brands are aligned with your own values will create more benefits for the audience, the brands, and the influencers.

Brands About Influencers — What You Need to Know:

Creators are artists — they want to think about it and create when they’re inspired. Brands are more on a schedule and they try to push for deadlines which creators don’t necessarily want to follow. This is rightfully their choice — according to Kaeya Majmundar — it’s important to keep the open line of communication and educate on both ends. Kaeya also expressed that she believes that the best influencer relationships span 6 or more months and are more effective than one-off posts. This is the direction the industry is heading.

“An influencer’s voice is so powerful and trusted” — says Moore. They are in their audience’s homes every single day. As a brand, make sure you pick the influencers that align with your brand and then let them tell you the best way to tell the story.

Consistency is what’s really important — explains Moore — this is what mainstream talent can learn from. Having regular appointments with their audience. Even if it doesn’t work the first few times — you have to build it. He adds that he always says, “If you build it, they will come.”

Digital influencers will save television…. They are the stars of today.

— Bryan Moore

See the live video stream on their Facebook page here. 

Keynote speakers — George Takei

Session #2 — A conversation with Jay Kuo

I love this man. I follow him on all social platforms for two reasons — 1. his shared content and captions give me All. The. Feels. He has a way with his words by keeping it short, humorous, and to the point.  And 2. I trust him and that’s everything! Did I mention his impactful stand on issues that affect our community?


George’s Take:

  • On the success of battling bad comments with humor: “Humor transcends political borders — we all have that common ground.”
  • “Learn from mistakes — and even those trolls!”
  • On owning your mistakes: “Life is a continuous learning process and I think I’ve improved from some of those mistakes I made.”

He spoke about the power of media, his support for the LGBT community. And how to unite in making the world a better place. I don’t know him from Star Trek like many — it wasn’t a show I watched growing up in Germany, but it is one I admire as they strived for adversity and a better world.

Session #3 with Ezra Klein

Ezra spoke poignantly about the power of social media platforms and the presidential campaigns. People are angry that fake news is happening and the dangers of cyber bullying is tremendous. There are things we can do about fake news and Facebook is good at doing so. Fake news meaning wrong news, misleading news that people act upon. The thing is that it is very easy to fall into that fake news gap and people don’t know what to do about that. A ‘we’re not sure if this is true tag’ is a good start. Making people feel good about what they and we are doing is a hill we’ll have to climb.

He allows himself to only check Instagram in the mornings because it’s the friendliest platform– “you just get hearts!” Klein talks about the moment — the wave of information that’s constantly occurring where we feel that we have to check on this. There’s slow and fast information. Fast can be mainlined easily. The problem is — it has its addictive quality. We’re all terrified of being behind the news — even by a minute. It’s true for us — journalist — but also many other folks.

“Facebook I think will be able to solve a lot of these problems.” You can do more than just like something — I wonder if you could customize those feelings to get what you desire. Filtering in data that personalized what emotions you want to be feeling. Facebook has that technology but twitter does not.

As a journalist — “I don’t think these things are making us worse, I think it’s making us act worse” with a honest disclosure that he’s been an asshole on social.

The question as to how to be a good person on social media surrounds us. Creating a space where people feel okay. And a lot of that will come from the platforms, from us as Individuals, and social norms.

What we need to know is ‘be a good person on social media’ — and you know what that means.

— Ezra Klein

Et cetera…

  • Most noteworthy from Session #4 –Social influence for social good — was about what we can do — together. To raise awareness and our voices — to make this world a better place. Engaging with our audience for a greater cause, that’s bigger than us all.
  • When it came to strategy — expert Amanda Alampi emphasizes on being creative. She shared an uplifting story about one campaign she did with celebrities and some influencers. And the shocker — the YouTube influence brought in more views than the celebrities combined.

In conclusion → The power of influencers are amazing! And done right, we can help shape this world into what it deserves to be.