Those with high followings were once called bloggers but gradually the medium has shifted. Today, they’re called influencers—essentially bloggers with just an Instagram feed to keep up. But don’t let the simplicity of their platform undermine their power. In fact, it’s this very same simplicity that amplifies their power.
As the industry has grown, the concept of celebrity has shifted with it. The influencers of today have become household names, with their social media handles just as recognisable as the names of some of the world’s biggest actors, artists, and thought leaders.
But when it comes to celebrities, society has long-brandished them with an inescapable sense of responsibility to behave as role models. With today’s influencers becoming modern celebrity-incarnates (sans any pressure to abide to or advocate any kind of moral codes) it’s created a problematic dichotomy.
All public figures should feel obligated to adhere to a high level of social awareness and in essence become responsible for speaking out about social injustices.
The sheer power of celebrity has proven itself overtime. Angelina Jolie dedicated herself to humanitarian work with the UNHCR, eventually becoming a UN Special Envoy and taking on advocacy work for the majority of her career. On another note—albeit slightly more debatable, as little else has been done in the way of prison reform in the US—Kim Kardashian recently used her celebrity status to aid in commuting Alice Johnson’s life sentence.
Countless other celebrities have used their very public platforms to become advocates for issues they’re passionate about—and more often than not, their efforts have been more fruitful than those of the average person.
And with the growth of ‘influencer marketing’, influencers have also proven their power with brands flocking to those with the largest followings to promote their products. Although many get into the business of ‘influencing’ as a means of profit, the platforms that come with it are not entirely free of responsibility.
These platforms do not wholly belong to you. They also belong to the public. And for that reason, anyone who has garnered a mass following also has a responsibility to their followers, and to society at large to take action towards its betterment – and not the other way around.
To those who choose not to—or worse—those who make and stand by dehumanizing statements, you are not free of backlash or scrutiny also by virtue of those who follow you.
If you need guidance on how to step up your social awareness game, we’ve got a few pointers for you:
Have a clear standpoint. You have more people following your account than some of the world’s most powerful politicians so take responsibility for what you say, do and advocate.
Do not support brands that have problematic ethical standards.
Constantly educate yourself on current social matters. Your platform literally requires it.
Talk to your audience. See what they’re going through and what they’re dealing with and find ways to help. A simple post can go a long way (as you already know).
Do not be afraid to voice your opinion on social matters. Especially if you’re preaching for what’s right. You have the power to change opinions.