Celebrity’s responsibility to use their status to stand up for important causes on social media was a key topic of conversation at the very first Influence Live event.
Actor Ralf Little spoke candidly with CIPR president Sarah Hall about the social media minefield for celebrities with opinions, and whether hundreds of thousands of followers automatically gives you this responsibility.
Ralf explained that we live in a society where people can’t just say ‘I got it wrong’. Everything put on social media becomes a quote. A quote attributed to you that you cannot move away from should situations change or evidence to change your opinion arises. And as much as any users of social channels must be aware that, once published, their thoughts are out there for anyone to read and remark upon, why can’t we get it wrong sometimes. Have new ideas. Find new evidence.
This brings me onto another key topic of discussion at Influence Live. Ralf explained that he has a scientific mind (he was at medical school for five weeks, did you know?) so if someone presents him with concrete evidence to the contrary of his current beliefs, science tells him that he should believe this new research. Makes sense, right?
But that’s often not what happens on social media. Users are so tied to their beliefs that no matter how much evidence you present to them, they will not change. And social media algorithms don’t help. They become an echo chamber for everyone’s thoughts and beliefs, showing similar content with similar viewpoints making users think that their thoughts are shared by the majority, when it isn’t always the case. This is where much social media conflict stems from.
Moving back to the topic of celebrity, we discussed whether social media is now integral to celebrities role in society. The brilliant examples raised by Ralf were Piers Morgan and Gary Lineker. I think we can all assume Piers Morgan thrives off social media, carefully thinking about each post and what response – positive or negative – it might generate. Gary Lineker, however, no matter what he posts, seems to get stick for it, it can’t be that much fun.
And it’s certainly not all good news for celebrities. Some casting directors look at social media channels when choosing their actors – less followers or less profiles means less ‘free publicity’. The term minefield really is the right choice when it comes to celebrities on social media.
The one phrase that stuck with me the most, though, was this. No one is interested in conversation any more. It’s a sad turn of events when social media is no longer social. I’m lucky enough to have a social network that I engage and start conversations with, and they reciprocate, but perhaps people like me are in the minority.
People have an innate need to be heard and social media gives us the platform to be. But it doesn’t mean that everyone necessarily wants to listen.
Many thanks to all who worked to put the very first Influence Live together. Check out more of the conversation on Twitter #InfluenceLive.