The total solar eclipse aligned the moon, sun, and earth Aug. 21. In the weeks and months leading up to the event the total solar eclipse also aligned digital media creators, including users, people of influence and vehicles.

It’s likely that you saw media from at least one, and possibly all, of these different media creators. Southern Illinois, from Southern Illinois University Carbondale to the Shawnee National Forest, was full of them.

Users are individuals like you and me. Users are you and me, as well as our friends and followers. There are millions of us throughout the country. We produce media covering a broad spectrum of topics that are influenced by our own personal interests and lived experiences. When our personal interests and lived experiences coincided with one another we create trends such as the total solar eclipse.

Influencers are users who have access to audiences outside of their personal circle. Influencers add to the interest and the validity of trends by leading conversations and directly participating in trends. Influencers take different forms. Local influencers may include reporters, officials, or community members who have expansive audiences. National influencers may include individuals whose organizational roles are similar to local influencers, but their work reaches a much larger audience. An example of a national influencer who contributed to Southern Illinois during the total solar eclipse is the Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel.

The Weather Channel is one of many vehicles, organizations or platforms that create, synthesize, and deliver media to users, that participated in the total solar eclipse here in Southern Illinois. Vehicles are made up of people who produce media, including influencers and users. Vehicles are critical to exposure as they provide access to mass markets of users.

The lasting value of the total solar eclipse is not the number of visitors who could provide a short-term bump to local economies. The lasting value of the total solar eclipse is the media created and distributed by users, influencers, and vehicles.

Users like you and I had positive experiences that have been shared nationally and globally with individual stories shared among personal circles. Influencers had positive experiences and showcased Southern Illinois to vast audiences in personal ways. Vehicles, from national television broadcasters to industry-leading websites, displayed our region prominently.

The coordinated communications of digital media creators provides a lasting value to our region because the positive experiences of those who visited our region have been made visible and were amplified to reach a global audience.

The network of users, influencers, and vehicles that descended on Southern Illinois for the total solar eclipse will be of value to Southern Illinois for years to come, and when 2024 is here, it’ll be our time to shine again.

Nathan Colombo is a Carbondale native, stand-up comedian, and marketing professional. His small business, Brand Advocacy Group, Inc, provides digital media services for other small, local businesses in and around Southern Illinois.

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