Social media influencers are people who are popular on sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and other platforms where they are able to communicate their views to their fan base.
Social media influencers differ from “traditional celebrities” because they didn’t become famous through the same means—they achieved fame through social media, whether it was their ability to tell jokes, give commentary on pressing social issues, create “how-to” videos, or exercise other blogging or vlogging skills that made them popular. Social media influencers can promote products and businesses that they find credible, and partnerships between the two are quite common and mutually-beneficial. Influencer marketing platforms, like NeoReach, also help these celebrities gain popularity and better connect with brands and causes that speak to their audiences. However, they are also effective at promoting movements and raising awareness about issues that are important to them.
Why Social Media Influencers are Great at Promoting Causes
Social media influencers have a wide audience, and, as social media is what made them famous, they are able to spread their activism through those channels, communicating their opinions to their fans. Also, social media celebs are perceived as more relatable and connecting with their audience—they’re “regular people” like you and me. They aren’t viewed as out-of-touch, nor are they seen as distant figures without everyday experiences. Some of the most popular vloggers on YouTube, for example, are famous because they give their insight and tell jokes about normal, everyday things that everyone can relate to pretty easily.
When social media influencers promote causes and raise awareness, they are viewed as more sincere, and their activism is therefore seen as a genuine interest in the subject at hand. They aren’t some celebrity worth millions with a huge mansion talking about poverty; they are regular people with a passion trying to spread the word. Below are some notable examples of social media influencers who are well-known for their activism.
(Note: this is not an endorsement or disavowal of these beliefs; it is simply a commentary on how social media influencers’ activism is communicated effectively).
DeRay McKesson is an activist who works with the organization “Black Lives Matter,” which is dedicated to stopping police brutality and promoting racial equality. DeRay has hundreds of thousands of followers on social media, and his niche (and what most people follow him for) is his take on racism and racial injustice in America. DeRay’s activism takes place, in a large part, on social media, although the majority of his work is done outside of the internet. He became well-known several years ago, when he was providing his opinions on the death of Michael Brown, a Missouri teenager who was killed by police. Twitter was a major platform for him to gain popularity, and now, as a social media influencer, he continues with his activism through those same means.
Tyler Oakley has over 7.5 million subscribers on YouTube, and one of the causes he has become most well-known for advocating is LGBTQ rights. Oakley, who is gay, has been able to raise awareness for LGBTQ issues and it is one of the main things that he is known for, in addition to his comedy. Oakley gets millions of YouTube views per week, and his influence is widespread. He dedicates much of his LGBTQ activism, for example, to The Trevor Project, which provides a crisis hotline to LGBTQ kids who are currently struggling with thoughts of suicide, depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues.
Kim Kardashian West
While Kim Kardashian has been known more for her business acumen, companies, and modeling, she has also raised awareness about the Armenian genocide. Kim Kardashian has millions of followers on every social media platform, and she frequently tweets about the Armenian genocide and the need for it to be acknowledged by Turkey and other countries. Kardashian, who is Armenian, has been vocal about the tragedy, demanding that it be recognized officially as a genocide by Turkey, the perpetrator, who still refuses to admit what happened.
Feminista Jones is a social media influencer who frequently raises awareness on racial justice issues, feminism, and women’s rights, particularly those of black women. She has thousands of followers on Facebook and Twitter, and her writing has appeared in many online publications. Her main cause is intersectional feminism and acknowledging the oppression of black women by both sexism and racism. She is vocal about the need to support black-owned businesses and reduce poverty in black communities. Feminista Jones, a black woman herself, primarily raises awareness through social media and online communication.
These influencers are examples of the power of social media in supporting causes and raising awareness of issues that likely wouldn’t be as visible were it not for today’s technology and advanced communication. Partnering with a social media influencer or brand to help direct people’s’ attention to a cause is beneficial to all parties involved, as education about an issue is the best way to find a solution to it.