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BENlabs Book Club: The Age of Influence: The Power of Influencers to Elevate Your Brand: Review

“The Age of Influence: The Power of Influencers to Elevate Your Brand” is the BENlabs Book Club book for March. We afforded ourselves plenty of time to read and digest. Then, like all self-respecting book club members with the discussion deadline rapidly approaching, we finally cracked the spine on this “comprehensive influencer marketing guide.”

Here are our thoughts.

The Age of Influence: The Power of Influencers to Elevate Your Brand

“The Age of Influence: The Power of Influencers to Elevate Your Brand” is billed as a comprehensive guide to navigating the world of influencer marketing in the modern era. It explores social media’s rising star, the role of content creators in building and connecting with audiences, and how that in turn is transforming the way people make purchasing decisions. 

While the specifics are three years-old, there’s plenty of value to be had, especially when talking about the thought process to identify the right influencers for a brand.

Similarly, advice on engaging and negotiating with influencers, and working with them to create engaging content that the target audience loves stands the test of time. 

The writing style and structure of the book is fairly academic, reading a bit like a college textbook. Personal anecdotes and references to the author in first-person (not to mention an accessible cover price that doesn’t require taking on student loans) do help to break it out of that mold.

The book is divided into four parts.

Part One: Why Influencer Marketing

This section discusses the rise of influencer marketing and makes the case for working with content creators, the challenges, and opportunities.

Part Two: Understanding Influencers and the Ways You Can Engage with Them

Here Schaffer works to position content creators as partners, not mouthpieces. There are valuable lessons in the importance of authenticity here. Trusting content creators to understand and connect with their audience — not giving them a long list of brand messages to reel off — is a key takeaway.

Part Three: How to Work with Influencers to Generate Massive Results

This section gets into some tactics; identifying the right influencers for your brand, building out strategy, relationship building, tools, and of course measuring results.

Part Four: Becoming an Influencer Yourself

Here we touch on how an individual but — more usefully — a business can build a voice and following online. One interesting example shares a B2B company that built a B2C content strategy, building an audience it could influence toward choosing its B2B partners.  

“Age of Influence: The Power of Influencers to Elevate Your Brand” was published in March of 2020. Even if we ignored the global COVID-19 pandemic — which, much as some people might have liked to, we can’t —  a lot has changed in three years. Especially in a fast-moving field like influencer marketing.

The Times They Are a… Changed

To put three years in context, TikTok is mentioned once, in the context of teenagers preferring it (and Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr) over Facebook.

Being three years behind fast-moving trends would be a bigger problem if “Age of Influence” was just tactical. It’s not. It aims to offer an expert perspective on influencer marketing and succeeds in this goal overall.

When this book was written, influencer marketing was largely content to mimic the traditional advertising playbook: audience size and demographics were the main consideration and celebrity influencers were the be-all, end-all. Schaffer works to highlight the flaws in this thinking, doing so successfully and presciently.

“Way back” in March 2020, micro and nano were new terms in influencer marketing. Schaffer was spot on in calling out these influencer categories as the best opportunity for niche marketing success. If the author were to update the book today, he’d have the benefit of clear data and case studies to further prove this key point.

Overall, “The Age of Influence” offers valuable insight into its subject matter and deserves a place in the marketer’s “to read” pile. Not as the definitive guide or introductory manifesto it once was but as valuable context on influencer marketing, how it evolved, and continues to evolve today.

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