If we have managed to get over the fact that “social media influencing” is a real thing, and being a social media influencer is a real job, let’s get on to the bit about why exactly this is a job that needs to be handled with a great deal of responsibility.
So who is a social media influencer?
A social media influencer is any person who has (or appears to have) a sound knowledge on what they claim their niche is and uses that knowledge to influence people in believing and subscribing to the same set of ideas or thoughts they are trying to propagate – on social media. Sounds a little dangerous? Well, it is, for a number of reasons.
This is because what you put out on social media has a real impact.
And this means that you have the power to influence people, to change attitudes and mindset – which you can change for the better, and scarily, even for the worse.
QED: With great power comes great responsibility.
How responsible you are as a social media influencer depends on how well you can answer the following questions.
What is your core purpose for being an influencer?
What are you doing this for? Are people benefitting out of this? Now that you have “x” number of followers, how is your content helping them enrich their lives? These are tough questions but ones that need to be asked. But answering these questions and finding a core purpose is exactly what will set you apart from the hundreds of social influencers who lose out on mileage and on time to realize that they truly had the power to touch lives and bring about a positive change, in whatever small way they were capable of.
How sensitive are you?
One of the worst examples we have seen in recent times of a complete lack of sensitivity about what influencers put out on social media was the Logan Paul episode. In 2017, the famous 22-year-old Youtuber filmed and posted a video of him and his friends laughing over a dead body found hanging in a Japanese forest. This incident triggered a huge backlash from his “fans” and the online community, ultimately leading to him apologizing and stepping back for a while.
While this may be one of the more drastic and extreme examples, we are all aware of the seemingly “smaller” insensitive content one is so used to come across on social media, some from highly influential social media users. Being a social media influencer is remembering at all times to not only be sensitive in what you say and what you put out but also trying to do your bit to foster a sensitive social media community.
“I’d just say be yourself, maintain a tone for your social media that works for you and never feel pressured to do anything you don’t want to represent you. Pick a pace and commit to it as closely as you can”. Jasjyot Singh Hans, Artist.
How credible are you?
Credibility comes from knowing what you are talking about. Being credible and having a huge number of followers are two mutually exclusive factors – something a lot of social media influencers do not seem to understand the importance of. It is not always the case that you are credible not because you have a huge fan following, but because you have a large fan following you owe them all the credibility they rightfully deserve. Before anything you assert or promote, be sure to do your own background digging, to ensure that both your fan base and your credibility stay intact and that your influencing skills are thoroughly sustainable. Otherwise, you might have some accountability issues, which takes us to the next point.
“I try to be very honest about my work, because I don’t want to put unrealistic things out there to people to follow. What I post for my audience to try at home, I make sure that it’s very doable [and] comes with minimal risk, because there is a lot of responsibility when you’re communicating with an audience you don’t know. I want to make sure that the message I put out there is authentic and easy to follow.”, Yasmin Karachiwala, Fitness Expert.
How much accountability do you assume for what you put out?
One of the foremost responsibilities of being a social media influencer is knowing that you are accountable for what you put out. We are all aware of the problems created and sentiments hurt when there is a lack of sensitivity or credibility (and at times both) which ultimately stems from a lack of accountability, relating to what social media influencers do online. Remember that while your work may be on a screen, you are reaching real people and influencing real lives through it. And that is a big responsibility that comes with its own share of being accountable.
Social media influencing is one of the most impactful and effective ways of marketing and advertising. Regardless of whether you choose this path as a personal branding exercise or you did for other clients to help market their products, this is a responsibility that should be assumed carefully. But first of all, there needs to be a deep awareness about the basic fact that this indeed is a responsibility. In a time when youth from all over the world are harnessing the potential of social media influencing, there is a need to understand what these responsibilities are and why they matter so much. And here’s hoping that this post has contributed in some way to deepen your understanding of the same!
If you are keen on learning more about social media influencers and the dynamic, this article up next will give you key insights into this new wave of marketing.