Original Article: LinkedIn
Consumerism is driven by a new standard in advertising that’s moved beyond ads on television, Google, or even the ever-present Facebook. We are in the age of the influencer, in what has been a rocketship of paradigm shifts, tastemakers have turned from celebrity to the literal girl next door. With every possible online channel teeming with sponsored posts and promotions of gifted products, we are more influenced by moments on Instagram than even word of mouth. This transfer of power has created a new generation of consumers who interact with brands in a more intimate way. Not only do we see products we want to buy or experiences we want to have. We get to experience the full spectrum of human emotions as a community. Social media influencers are no strangers to blending the personal and professional, that is quite literally their bread and butter. Over the last eighteen months I’ve thought a lot about how to manage the tension between my personal and professional identity.
Political ideologies aside, the issues around equality in the US are at the forefront of our collective consciousness. As a citizen and an entrepreneur I felt compelled to find a way to help. I think a change we can all agree on is tone, and the tone of society is something seemingly innocuous, and accessible no matter your personal party lines. What if influencers were motivated to move the emotional tone of a nation, instead of of contents of a shopping cart? As a business, how do you make a social impact statement without alienating part of your network, especially in a highly sensationalized media cycle?
Let's call it mindful entrepreneurship, here's how we are doing it:
Take a stand.
As business leaders, we have the opportunity, and quite frankly the responsibility to take a stand when we see injustice. As we saw in ‘Council of CEOs Is Disbanding Amid Outrage Over His Charlottesville Response’ if we want to influence the narrative, the people around you and your business need to know what you believe needs changing. Case in point, recently while away on business in Europe I was looking at what was happening in the United States (again, Charlottesville, etc.), wondering, what can I do about this? My firm manages bloggers and social media stars who are responsible for influencing your purchasing habits, and after a lot of thought I realized that I happen to have influence over...influencers! I essentially can use my company's actual role in the marketplace as a tool for social impact. By inviting my influencers into the conversation about tone that I wanted to elicit, with their buy in, we’d be able to get people around the nation and the world to know our shared stance: love first.
By taking a stand I enabled my team of influencers to show that they are conscious entrepreneurs themselves, who are willing to take time out of their day-to-day to impact the the channel feeds of their followers in a different way To spread awareness of a positive tone and movement against those who would spread hate, fear and violence.
Love is not political.
While your stance should be clear, what you want to see happen should rise above politics. In our case, by focusing on the message of love, and sharing love, we combat the rise of hate groups such as white nationalists etc. We designed the #influencelove campaign to focus on a non-political message of creating positive moments in people’s lives. They can buy a shirt and are encouraged to share messages of how love triumphs over hate. We are taking the proceeds to groups like the ADL, which is creating great programs, such as the Alliance Against Hate, that is doing the work of combatting the tone we want to get rid of.
We are also dealing with hurricanes demolishing the South, and fires engulfing the Pacific Northwest, affecting the lives of millions. With out #influencelove campaign we are giving our community the choice of where their donation goes, i.e. the ADL or American Red Cross. These are things that most people are not going to argue about. Again, making the idea of getting involved in our movement accessible to (almost) all, no matter what side of the line they're on. Because those who are pro-hate have a much harder time being heard if we infuse our feeds with love.
Lead with empathy and spread compassion.
We don’t need an invitation to spread love. We are the people that will change the way our world works. Our businesses can be vehicles for social change if we take time to figure out where to put our talents. We should look to build organizations we are proud of, the best companies are the ones that care about others, and I am confident we are creating a world where eventually every organization, whether a large corporation or a social media influencer will have a tenant of social impact.
If you are kind, and share love, you will combat whatever is ailing society, man-made or otherwise.