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You’re an influencer, you’re an influencer – EVERYBODY’S AN INFLUENCER!

By Victoria Knibbs – Innocomm

It’s a free world. And yes, in most parts of it people do have rights to freedom of expression. In today’s world, there is a plethora of platforms through which we can speak out and ‘try’ to be heard. With smartphones providing instant access to digital platforms, there is no escaping the reality that technology and social media interactions are shifting the way in which we perceive identity and image, and that they are shaping our interpersonal relationships differently to previous generations.

Social media interaction has evolved tremendously over the last 15 years. The capabilities that these platforms present for people to engage with others are continuously evolving to greater and more exciting features that give users a powerful tool to ‘publish’ something across various stages at any given point in time. With this power must come responsibility!

Responsibility for what? Well… your reputation for a start. My mother always said that one’s reputation is like that of a good perfume, once spoilt it is ruined forever! Your social pages are no longer only a space to connect and network with your friends and family, they are the reference documents for YOUR BRAND and future opportunities!

That girl or guy you asked for drinks? Well she’s checking your social footprint right now. That company you sent your CV too, yes they will also be checking you out! Does he/she drink? Do they fit in with our brand’s image? Yes, this will happen, your personal profile and details will be reviewed, and your reputational risk will be evaluated.

South Africa, in particular, has seen its fair share of high-profile cases of big ‘NO NO’ moments across social media in recent years that have caused debate and upheaval across traditional and social platforms. This goes to show that if you really want your 15 minutes of fame you can get it quick and fast by saying or doing the wrong thing and sharing it with your ‘friends’!
Except, your wild post may very well ruin your reputation and whilst unfortunate for the famed offenders in SA (we all know who they are) these people have been the case study of what NOT to do on social media. Please do take note Mzansi!

Yes, we all have the power to say, do, project and splash our greatest moments, favourite things and strongest convictions across the digital world. We can do this at any moment in time. We can see what our most adored icons are sharing to feel inspired – yet we may be left feeling kind of irrelevant when we find ourselves making comparisons. It is important to understand the necessity of building your brand on social media or online, yet also being able to navigate real interactions and moments vs only churning out filtered content.

It is a fact, social media has opened up a multitude of wonderful opportunities, it has started conversations, highlighted important social issues that needed addressing and helped track down missing people faster than ever before to name a few of the advantages. It has given society so much and for so many people… it has given them a sense of identity and purpose? Especially the youth!

There is no escaping this digital life, we all need to consider our digital engagement carefully, respectfully and be mindful of what we share and why we are sharing it. Young people are most impressionable to this cyber world and as we are all influencers in our own right, we should strive to change the narrative for the better, aiming to teach and equip the youth on how to navigate their own ‘brands’, yet maintain ‘real friends’, ‘real conversations’ and really see the world around them!

Are you a public personality, celebrity or social media influencer? Are there young people looking up to you? (probably) What are you teaching them? Thoughts to ponder this #YouthMonth!