What it Means to Be An Influencer
By: Ashley Martin
To influence means to have great impact on individuals, organizations, or behavior. It is a powerful trait that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
The term is used very loosely today as we associate anyone with a massive following and money as an influencer, when most are simply giving product reviews.
With the rise of social media, creators have a platform to showcase their talent.
Individuals have an opportunity to influence individuals and create change. It’s an empowering feeling but it’s also harmful.
Social media promotes unrealistic lifestyles and unhealthy body images. A lot of work goes into presenting a perfect version of yourself online.
Influencers however, will go above and beyond for their followers.
They give followers a personal look into their lives by posting photos and videos, connecting with viewers as well as partnering with brands and advocating on their behalf.
Influencers gain popularity and trust of their followers and in turn, make a profit by using products in collaboration with companies.
They encourage followers to indulge in a culture of mass consumption, with their constant haul videos. They buy or are given excessive amounts of products and spend around 45 minutes enticing viewers to buy it.
Most times influencer videos are sponsored so viewers may have a sense of distrust and are skeptical of the quality of the product, knowing that the influencer is getting paid to make comments.
Influencers have to keep our attention, meet demands and entertain. They also have to focus on the quality of their content and the amount of followers they have. However, it becomes inauthentic.
You scroll through YouTube or Instagram and see the same type of video in 50 different ways . The content isn’t original anymore as it seems like people are chasing an extravagant lifestyle and are willing to sell anything to get there.
An influencer like Kylie Jenner has over 100 million followers, promoting her beauty and skin brand as well as numerous products like clothing or fragrances. This may seem like a good thing as followers are exposed to different products but with Kylie’s platform how has she enacted change ?
Is she influencing youth to be more involved in their communities ? Coming up with solutions to combat poverty ? Or is she encouraging careless spending on a product that she recreates every few months ?
Other influencers promote traveling or simply broadcast their daily life but there’s no substance, no thought – provoking conversations.
Being an influencer is not an easy task, as popularity or followers don’t automatically equate to free trips and clothes. Somehow though, influencing is the new crave that has individuals sharing more of themselves online, openly discussing topics meaningful to them, and losing their dignity for a few likes.
An influencer must adapt to the ever changing social media as well as be authentic. To call yourself an influencer is a big deal as people look to them for guidance or insight. The information influencers give out , shouldn’t just improve your appearance but also empower and educate you.
As viewers we must be mindful of the information we are being told, especially if money is involved. We should also think about who we allow to influence us as it can say a lot about our values and where we want to be in life.
A great influencer would be someone like Bernie Sanders advocating for free higher education, free health care, affordable housing, and other programs that will greatly impact Americans. People like Ava Duvernay, Tyler Perry and Jordan Peele encourage and inspire Black people to write and their tell stories, with all types of characters.
I believe, most great influencers wouldn’t even give themselves that label they just take the steps, get things done, and in turn people become inspired.