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Influencers: a person or thing that influences another

Influencers: a person or thing that influences another image

Updated: Sep 23

Influencers: a person or thing that influences another image

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Aligning with an Influencer

Influencers can drive traffic, give recommendations, and increase sales for you and your brand. Aligning yourself with an influencer in your field can have a huge effect on what you do, if She\He\They are the right person and not someone irrelevant to your brand. Choose carefully.

We have learnt that the influencer should be relatable to your audience – people seek the authentic, not someone not within their reach or scope of reality. Big names commanding big bucks will not necessarily give your business the kind of awareness it seeks and it could backfire spectacularly.

Using Voice to Make the World a Better Place

People in public life or with celebrity status who make the decision to use their platform to raise awareness of injustice, adversity, bias, and so on, could choose to have a quiet life. And sometimes we wish some would be quiet. Some say what needs to be said and I applaud them – we listen to the ‘heroes’ in the stories and often they can convert negative opinions to positive attitudes and this can only be good and healthy for society.

People who have influenced me

  • The beautiful storyteller, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who penned the book ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ and did a Ted talk about the ‘Danger of a Single Story’ (yes, that was a nudge!) looking at examples of how lives and cultures influence our opinions and perceptions and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.
  • Sarah Waddington has put together a PR school called Socially Mobile to deliver training to those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, as well as under-represented practitioners. Sarah and her husband, Stephen, have put their own money and lots of time into making this a reality and people who fit the criteria will upskill for free. Due to the couple’s popularity and standing in the PR community here in the UK and further afield, their CTA for volunteers to teach, mentor and assess course work have been filled. Sarah was awarded a CBE on the Queen’s birthday in July.
  • Former professional rugby player, Gareth Thomas, broke a taboo in sport – the macho game of rugby – by announcing his homosexuality and speaking so honestly and eloquently about people’s reactions to him, good and bad.
  • Manal Rostom is the first Hijabi woman to model in a Nike Running Campaign. She is also the first Egyptian to complete 5 out of 6 World Marathon Majors, as well as the first Egyptian woman to run the Great Wall of China Marathon. Hearing her speak about what the hijabi means to her changed my perception of the headwear.
  • Actor Judi Dench was the face of Vogue magazine in 2020 – see 18 questions from famous fans – aged 85, creating history. She has a wicked glint in her eye and with such a sharp and interesting mind, Dench clearly has no thoughts of retirement.
  • Leading global voice on human rights, Samantha Power, was brought to my attention by my father because of her red hair! She wrote Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World (2008), made into a film called Sergio, watch it if you can. Power could be the world’s most powerful Irish person.
  • Jacinda Ardern
  • Predrag Pasic born in *Sarajevo and set up a football academy for children during the war. The project was called Bubamara and everyone had to cross a bridge, constantly under fire by snipers, to get to the training pitch. Over two hundred Muslim, Serb and Croat children showed up on the first day and Pasic taught them to play together as a team. *Read the Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway, if you can.

“To me, the label ‘influencer’ is extremely apt” – says Tara Bell

Tara writes: “Who and what I see on social media poses an direct influence to my mental state, and in a more general sense, how I perceive the people and the issues within society as a whole. Once I realised the extent to which who I followed on social media, whether that be Instagram, TikTok or Twitter, impacted me in this way, I conducted an extensive ‘purge’ as I liked to call it, where I unfollowed anyone who I didn’t think enriched my life in some way. This left my social media feeds with a number of individuals who I admired, as they influenced me in various ways – for example, to give me fashion inspiration, awareness of current issues, or to improve my overall outlook on life.

Tara in Notting Hill in London, with the ‘chickens’ in the background

I could mistake their crafted online presences as authentic

Continuing, Tara says – “Upon hearing that someone is an ‘influencer’, the presence of millions of followers, endless paid advertisements and promotions, and picture-perfect posts may come to mind. Certainly, large name influencers such as The Kardashians would conform to this, posing in picture-perfect selfies, promoting number-one-selling makeup brands and partaking in supermodel catwalks. This, rather than ‘influencing’ how I lived my life, added nothing other than a source of comparison, whereby I could mistake their crafted online presences as authentic. Notably many, if not all, of the Kardashians have been exposed for photoshopping their images; they artificially alter their bodies to be more fitting to society’s beauty standards, and only then do they see these pictures of themselves as acceptable to be released to the public. Whilst many young girls are not taught about how photoshopping and advertising works on social media, and how to be mindful whilst consuming social media ‘influencer’ posts, many would see this to be not a positive ‘influence’, but a hindrance to their perception of themselves. In this way, one of the only things these ‘influencers’ achieve is teaching young girls, wrongfully, that their looks are their highest commodity (as opposed to their kindness or their intellect, for example), and that to succeed in society, they must look a certain way. The detrimental effects some influencers may have on their followers, therefore, is evident.

So, I made a conscious choice, which I hope other women will soon be encouraged to do, to unfollow anyone who was not posing a positive influence on my life – but rather a negative one. Now I follow many people who make me feel better after seeing their posts – as unconventional as that may seem.

‘I Weigh’

Tara writes about Jameela Jamil, who began as an English teacher, yet soon became the first solo female host on Radio One’s chart show, and after later moving to Los Angeles, she landed a role in the critically acclaimed TV show The Good Place. However, she is most notably an activist for women’s rights. Inspired by an Instagram post whereby each Kardashian sister detailed what they each weighed, she started the online movement ‘I Weigh’. This encouraged women to post photos of themselves and what they weighed; not in pounds, but in their achievements and attributes that they are proud of and grateful for. This helped to teach women that their looks are not, in fact, their highest commodity, and that they should instead value themselves on their successes, however small they may be. Here, Jamil uses her social media presence of 3.4 million Instagram followers (@Jameelajamilofficial) to encourage inclusivity for women of all shapes, sizes, races, and backgrounds, united in a shared appreciation for themselves and their fellow women, as opposed to viewing their peers as vehicles of comparison. This online movement is extended to Jamil’s YouTube channel and podcast ‘I Weigh’, and has certainly helped to encourage mine, and many other women’s, self-appreciation.

Intuitive Eating

“Another woman who I love to follow,” says Tara, “and who also uses her social media platform to encourage body positivity and mental health awareness, is Helena Rose Cope. With 57.8K subscribers on YouTube (helena rose) and 68.4K followers on Instagram – helenarosecope – she devotes her time to being authentically raw on the topic of mental health. Open about her struggles with eating disorders as a teenager, she uses her platform to encourage intuitive eating, where she chooses to eat what makes her feel good, mentally, which, in turn, helps to care for her physical self – no restriction, no association of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods, but just eating healthily for the sake of a strong and happy life, not for the sake of aesthetics and body image perfection. Some of her Instagram captions capture this perfectly: ‘those memories that we hold onto as we grow up, aren’t if we had clear skin on the day, or the size of our clothes in the moment, or the amount of calories that we ate the days before’.

‘Being X weight doesn’t make a joke funnier, it doesn’t make my dogs hugs nicer, or my friends love me more. Having clear skin doesn’t make dancing more happy. It doesn’t change how beautiful the sky can be… I want to live for the things that matter’.

When I see posts like these on my social media feed, I am inspired to be grateful for the littler things in life, and prioritise the things I want to attend to, for example relationships with my friends or family, rather than giving in to the plethora of companies advertising products for the ‘perfect skin’. As I don’t have power over how beauty trends change, but I do have power over who I follow, and to what extent I let the media influence my perception of myself and the world as a whole.

Thank you, Tara.

What is an Influencer, after all

Often, an influencer is someone who is online enough that people notice and listen to them. They are likely to have a video channel on YouTube, share captions and videos on Instagram, be a creative on TikTok, or a VC, Entrepreneur or Philanthropist on Clubhouse.

How or will you hire an influencer, is this something you’ve even considered?

If you’re considering hiring an influencer, think about starting with a micro-influencer first, someone local who is a good fit with your business. Find out which platforms your ideal client is on and this article The purpose of established social media platforms provides an intro to the more popular social media platforms and what each one offers. Define your audience and build influence with consistent messages that penetrate.

Who influences you and why? Leave a comment below.

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