Everyone’s heard some variation of the “15 minutes of fame” line, but it’s never been as true as it is now. We live in a digital age where nearly everyone has some form of social media, and news is provided to us instantly while also being easily accessible. The past decade (or so) has seen the rise of people on social media who influence those around them through sharing specific news stories or by being advocates for a particular brand. Whether on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or any other less popular social media outlet, there’s an opportunity to be a social media influencer. However, it’s how people use the position of social media influencer that makes it important.
1. Anyone can be a social media influencer
If you have any sort of social media account, you can become an influencer. Simply Measured defines a social media influencer as someone online who has reach (large audience), resonance (engagement with relevant content) and relevance (creation of relevant content). It takes a lot of work and dedication; but once you build up a following and continue to be consistent with the topics of your posts, you’re well on your way to being a successful social media influencer.
2. Less popular issues can be brought to light
One of the pros of having social media influencers comment and share news that they think is relevant is that issues being ignored by the mass media outlets can be given attention. There is a definite bias behind every social media influencer – and they can use this bias positively, by posting about topics that aren’t being given the attention they deserve.
1. Misinformation can blow up
When social media influencers tweet, post or share something, it’s going to get millions of views. If whatever they’re sharing is incorrect, it’s going to take a lot of damage control to get the truth out to their audience. The problem is that most people don’t take the time to fact check the sources, because they trust the social media influencers sharing the news. As evidenced by the recent election, fake news is starting to get more and more views – having social media influencers spread the fake news can easily become an issue, and might be one of the reasons why it spreads as fast as it does.
Pope Francis never endorsed Trump for President, but so many influencers shared this post on Facebook that people actually started to believe it.
2. Evaluate their reliability
Most social media influencers aren’t considered to be experts in their field, so we need to take everything they say with some caution. The issue comes when people take their content as absolute, without checking out other resources to verify that what they’re saying is actually true. The role of a social media influencer is to share news that they think is important – as their audience, it is our role to form our own opinion about what they share.
About the Author: Brianna Antinoro
Brianna, current member of The Practice, is a third-year Strategic Communication major, with minors in Philosophy and Professional Writing. She is an Account Associate for OSU’s School of Communication and CHOICES, a nonprofit domestic violence center in Franklin County. Brianna enjoys reading, writing, listening to music and playing soccer, and can almost never be found without at least one earbud in.