By: Zama Khumalo

Within social media, it is essential for brands to be the voice that their consumers can relate to. This is why social media influencers play the role of being the middle man. According to the website, MediaKix (2017), a social media influencer can be defined as: “These personalities that are often followed for their prowess and expertise in specific categories”. To further explain their relevance, they provide the necessary insight that companies need to reach a larger potential audience.

The ever so fickle society, which we exist in, can definitely work in your favour, plus sized body positive influencer, Thickleeyonce, once tweeted that:  “When we are comfortable enough, we need to talk about fat double standards”. To say she was trending would be an understatement. It brought on a wave of discomfort that had an underlying theme of, ‘Be comfortable with who you are, only on our standards”. The humorous element, here is that in the midst of the confusion, Thickleeyonce was able to create a conversation. If she did not exercise her right as an influencer, would it not defeat the role of her title?

Another flipside of the coin, is what happens when influencers play their part? It sometimes can be detrimental to their brand.  Influencers are sometimes silent about pertinent issues that are on the horizon. The locally produced, award winning movie “Inxeba (The Wound)”, has sparked controversy. The movie deals in detail with homosexuality. Homosexuality and the so called cultural misrepresentation by the film makers are two pertinent issues which eventually made the movie shut down in the Eastern Cape and Cape Town due to protests. While this transpired, the main actor Nakane Toure has endured insults and death threats. It is sad that influencers have so far been silent not only on the attacks of Nakane, but about the movie itself. It is fair to say that we still have a long way to go if influencers are silent on such important issues. Where does the loyalty stand between them and their followers?

It is often discouraging that social media has elevated itself, into a mouthpiece, that directs emotions and validates why we should feel in a certain way. It is highly important, that brands select individuals that are not only able to represent them, but speak up on current issues which will create a shift in societal thinking. For the man on the street, representation is important. Influencers are us!

Society is absolutely quick to point out the faults of an individual but conveniently forgets that it has its own flaws that need years of fixing. Social Influencers spark a light in which society needs to constantly remind itself, “Are we ready for the naked truth and conversations that will strip away the discomforts of life, that we have stacked on for many years?”.

Media Kix. 2017. Influencer marketing VS Celebrity Endorsements. Which is better? [Online] Available: http://mediakix.com/2017/12/influencer-marketing-vs-celebrity-endorsements-pros-cons/#gs.BagTYmag [Accessed 5 February]

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