In the world of social media, it would appear that (almost) anything and perhaps everything matters. From a tattoo artist do’s and don’ts guide to a lifestyle guru workout video, the latest must have restaurant dish to fashion determined by what a soccer star may be wearing to an awards dinner, social media platforms seem to be a home for anything people are willing to show an interest in. One man’s meat is, of course, another man’s poison, which is why social media can be as divisive as it is ubiquitous, and why social media personalities so often divide opinion as to how important they are (or consider themselves to be).
Depending on a person’s interests, hobbies, pastimes, or preferences, a social media ‘star’ can be relevant to them. From choosing make up based on influencer recommendations on rouge to buying a car because a famous YouTube personality start to drive on, selecting a holiday destination because your favourite Instagram star posts from a particular location to betting on NFL match stats based on Corey Parson’s picks for rookies, people are influenced by all kind of people for a plethora of reasons, be they valid or not.
Even though social media platforms are, at least ostensibly and allegedly, for everyone to use and enjoy if the want to, another category has emerged from this online quagmire: the social media influencer. And the very idea of this, the social media influencer, can mean many things to many different people. Not everyone on platforms such as YouTube, TikTok, Instagram or X, as Twitter now seems to be styled, has this status of course, but those who do seem to boast followers in the millions, but does this automatically and unquestionably make them important?
Qualifying Importance: Do Social News And Media Stars Matter In The True Sense?
Now, before we really get to the meat on the bones of how important social media influencers really are, let’s just get to the initial definitional of what being an influence means: having the capacity or ability to affect someone else’s behaviour, personality or even their social or professional choices, that about sums it up, without being open to interpretation, of course. Then it comes down to anything from things that constitute lifestyle choices and preferences to tastes in music or fashion to perhaps determine how much social media stars matter to anyone one person.
When it comes to social media, it’s not easy to actually qualify what is important. It’s subjective, but in a world with frequent levels of underserved attention, even the level of importance can be distorted in reality. What matters to me may not matter to you, what intrigues, inspires, infuriates or impresses you may bore, irritate, delight or underwhelm me. Perhaps it is not what matters, but who it matters to that social media stars are tapping into as they monetize their own self-importance. Maybe that’s where importance actually resides, but that hardly clears up the question of what matters in the true sense now, does it? No, I thought not.
Followers and Dollars: Are These The Numbers That Really Matter?
It’s not exactly a scientifically indisputable metric, not even close really, but whether social media influencers matter or are truly important (or influential) is often down to the number of followers they have. This is often closely followed by, if not index linked to the amount of money they are earning, whether it is for them, the brands they espouse and tout, or a heady blend of the two. It’s hard to say that these numbers, followers and dollars earned don’t matter in terms of the influencer money earned, but does it matter in the wider world?
Another way of asking this question, and a somewhat decent way to revisit the principle inquiry of this article, is whether these soi-disant social media influencers are important in terms of news and perhaps sociologically relevant. In as much as the fact we are even having this discussion, the answer could be yes. Ditto the fact that these characters also make the mainstream news on occasion, if only due to the way in which they make so much money from their ‘position’, sometimes even millions.
Ultimately, there are many, many social media influencers who are simultaneously money makers. This naturally leads to the question if the ability to make money makes you culturally, socially, or societally important. Again, I have no single sentence, definitive answer to that, and I suspect that anyone who does may not be approaching the question with enough forethought, depth, or perspicacious curiosity. In conclusion, I would suggest that, on one level or another, social media influencers are indeed important. Perhaps in the sense that they adopt and depict a less professionally aspirational mindset in favour of a more money driven one. Either way, they are news and media gold to many, while meaningless to many more.