The Power and Perils of Influencers in a Social Media Driven World

What Makes Influencers So Powerful in our Social Media Driven World?

We live in a world where social media has become indispensable and where content goes viral within no time if it engages the readers.

Indeed, our lives are so dominated by Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter that we just cannot imagine a day where we go without logging into them or where we go without reading content and the posts of friends and peers on social media.

In this context, it is worth noting that there are a group of “influencers” so called because of their ability to influence the thoughts and actions of their followers.

Such influencers can be celebrities from the world of entertainment, famous sports personalities, leading journalists, and headline grabbing business leaders and for that matter, anyone who posts content that is widely read and shared on social media.

What makes influencers so powerful in the present times is that they have the ability to sway large numbers of people to their opinions and in the process, influence them or persuade them to think and act in a particular manner.

In short, influencers have what is known as Condign Power over their followers that gives them much power and prestige.

Social Media Influencers are the New Kings and Queens of our Times

Having said that, it is not always the case that Influencers are able to get their way on social media.

The short history of social media is rife with instances of so-called Influencers being trolled mercilessly for their posts and hence, these influencers need to take into account what goes viral and the responses to such content as well as keep an eye out for the reactions of their followers.

However, it is also the fact that given their humungous follower base, influencers can well ignore the trolling of a few as the rest of their followers hang on to their every word and read and shares their posts.

Moreover, in a manner similar to that of celebrities who endorse brands and who promote ads for goods and services, influencers too can sometimes get away with the most inane and banal Facebook posts and Tweets as well as Instagram updates.

As their power is derived from their ability to garner Likes and Re-Tweets, Influencers are much sought after by leading corporates and even political parties for promoting and posting good things about their brands and policies.

Indeed, the awesome power of Influencers in this age of social media is such that they have now become the De Facto Kings and Queens of our times.

Power Comes with Responsibility: The Menace of Reposting Fake News and Paid Content

As the saying goes, power comes with responsibility and this is true for the Influencers as well.

In times when it is easy to fall prey to Fake News that can make or break the chances of brands, political parties, and businesses not to mention fellow celebrities, Influencers need to exercise their power over their followers with great responsibility.

As some influencers in countries such as India are paid by brands and political parties to make their messages viral and to promote their lines of views, it is the case that Influencers need to be careful about the kind of messages that they post on Facebook or their Tweets on Twitter.

In recent times, there have been instances of leading Influencers merely parroting the lines as given to them by their patrons and sponsors without checking the authenticity of veracity of such content leading to their Millions of Followers being susceptible to consuming Fake News.

Indeed, this is the peril of our times as even otherwise well respected influencers fall prey to the temptation of easy money and promote content without checking whether it is true.

Need for Accountability: Why We Need More Regulation of Social Media Platforms

Therefore, just like in the world of advertising, what we need is accountability on Social Media.

In other words, it is high time that Influencers are called to account for their posts and tweets.

Indeed, as courts pull up celebrities who star in misleading ads and where legal action is permitted against them for being brand ambassadors of ventures that are found to be engaging in illegal activities, the regulators must take note of such power of Influencers on Social Media.

We need a Code of Conduct and Rules and Regulations for ensuring that misleading and outright Fake News is not reposted and tweeted by the influencers that can lead to mayhem and chaos in the real world.

In addition, social media platforms need to tweak their algorithms to ensure that influencers too are monitored for their content.

The point here is that just like we listen and follow the diktats of elderly family members and people in positions of power and authority in our everyday life, we also tend to believe what is posted by the Influencers on Social Media because of the Aura and Halo of success and respect that they have that has the power to change our thoughts and actions.

Concluding Thoughts

Last, it is also incumbent upon the followers to exercise discretion and to have independent thinking.

Blindly believing what the Influencers post is simply not done and instead, discernment is needed.

Moreover, if you are planning to become one of them, it would be better to learn from the beginning that power comes with responsibility and hence, try to be as balanced as possible on social media.

To conclude, there is a need for all stakeholders to recognise the bewildering power of social media on our lives and regulate the same so that gullible minds are not led astray.

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