In December last year I was asked to contribute to a blog feature entitled ‘to be or not to be’ for an ex colleagues website ‘halo edutainment’.

Here is the article: with thanks to Dennis Van Lierop

The ultimate questions that strikes me is: what would it take for a hairdresser to become the ultimate influencer…? I mean a truly influential person that people would aspire to and seek advice and inspiration from? What would be the persona like, what would be his/her skill set. Which actions would engage people to follow him or her on their their path of creative development? Dennis van Lierop has interviewed international icons and key influencers that talk about what it takes to attract audiences, inspire and edutain them.


If you are thinking of an eclectic group of creatives that would attract audiences from various areas, who would be in that group and how do they increase gravity?

A: I would build a group of influencers that covered diifferent elements of each aspect of my business. The main group would be hairdressers, stylists, designers and artists from various backgrounds. Hairdressers would be Annie Humphreys and Tim Hartley for their ‘influence’ on all aspects of hairdressing through the last 5 decades. Mark Leeson, Andrew Collinge, Jennifer Cheyne and Patrick Cameron for their commercial savvy! I would also call on youngsters who are making a name for themselves through their social media platforms. I would ask the head of McQueen and Westwood, Gucci and Tom Ford for their sheer inspirational thoughts to help build a creative world full of eclectic imagery. Artists, I would ask Grayson Perry for his unique slant on modern day culture, Jeff Koons for his understanding of modern day trends and how they can be captured and turned into successful works of art and I would ask Kate Bush and Lady Gaga to represent the music world as they both bring incredible and unique talents to the world through their musicality. A hybrid bunch that together would be a fusion of creativity and commerciality.

When you start a creative project who do you invite? 

My partner Neil, he helps me decide which route to take with any given idea and understands how to make something that starts life precocious and pretentious into a workable message to share with my clients and followers. A close friend (Tanya) who has a PR / Marketing company also gives guidance and help on projects, her innate ability to understand how to make something real from a conceptual thought is amazing.

What is the skill set that you gotta have to become an influencer?

I believe that an understanding of the subject matter and everything around it is vital to help you create a fuller, more substantial message that influences more than just your target audience. Also consistency and creativity are important factors, the message must be unique and win on its own merit but it has to have some link to previous works so that the influencer is consistent in how the message is delivered.

What can you do to elevate, develop your persona into becoming a key influencer?

Use every aspect of social media and each different platform to show your understanding of any given subject and how it can be shared with different age groups and demographics. Be consistent (consistency and creativity are key) …. show that you have a wider understanding of the picture and make it bigger, bolder and unique to you so that followers engage with the message and share it with others. Never be a copycat.

What is the next level of community engagement?

Social platforms have to develop so that more ‘one to one’ communication returns and has a personal feel to it. As the demand for bespoke products grows so the need for businesses to tap into social media develops but it can’t grow without the ‘human touch’. For me this is critical for the next stages of engagement with communities; group chat and one to one when required.

What channels, platforms and communities do you play in and what are the benefits, the results?

Websites, blog, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat all play a huge daily role in building my business awareness. Each has its own merits and each has its own flavour. As a social media ‘caretaker’ and a business consultant it’s crucial that each platform is used as often as possible to share messages in varying styles, this allows me to promote my business offerings in many different ways, from a full blown article on a blog to a photoshopped image on Instagram, each shares the message in its own special way.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I enjoy seeing what people post on social sites but I also get huge inspiration from walking through the streets of Edinburgh and  seeing what store windows look like, what people are wearing, and what is happening at ‘street level’. What happens in music videos and many aspects of daily life inspire me. And, of course, I couldn’t survive without a daily dose of ‘googling’ …. so many things to pick up and be inspired by.

Who do you believe is a key influencer, and who inspires you? 

Grayson Perry because he truly is a revolutionary artists who embrace classical culture and modern urban street artistry, and then turns them into stunning works of art that have his individuality and creativity stamped all over them. He really is a key influencer is so many things and has his finger on the pulse of modern society.

If you think about community and communication, where do these creative influencers live in the virtual space? 

They embrace both elements fully, they maximise their presence in the messages they deliver and who they deliver them to. A finger in every pie, a jack of all trades, they fully understand what people want and how they want it!

Who needs to be at a party or on a guest list so you go?

  1. Kate Bush! (try keeping me away)
  2. Grayson Perry. (I’d love to get a chance to talk ‘art’ with him)
  3. Annie Humphreys. (legendary in every aspect of the word)
  4. Boy George. (Because he helped me through my formative years)
  5. Haruki Murakami. (My favourite author, eccentric, odd, and genius all rolled into one)
  6. Marcel Wanders. (design guru for the modern age)

Note: An interesting exercise on my part, I hope you enjoyed reading it!

Emil McMahon offer bespoke training for customer facing businesses, social media consultancy, freelance writing and one to one business coaching. 07885 985843