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Opinion and Editorial

#MeToo to #TooMe: Why we unfollow dubious influencers

Vicky Kapur (From the Executive Editor's Desk)
Filed on November 26, 2019 | Last updated on November 26, 2019 at 05.33 am
MeToo, influencers, social media, US


#MeToo hasn't been the only victim of pseudo-influencers.

The #MeToo movement, which began in the US in late 2017 following the exposure of the widespread abuse allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein, gave rise to many a social media influencer. A lot of emboldened women - and several men - who'd experienced past abuse at the hands of those in powerful positions in their respective industries, shared their narrative to bring the guilty to book. The movement resulted in the rolling of some very prominent heads across several industries and sectors, most notably in media.

But it fizzled out in a few months. Not because every perpetrator was brought to justice or that such cases of abuse ceased to exist, but because the agenda was hijacked and diluted by dishonest influencers. As it turned out, certain 'influencers' used imaginary incidents and innocuous events to implicate innocent targets, which led to the legitimate movement losing credibility. #MeToo hasn't been the only victim of pseudo-influencers. As many brands have now realised, influencers who've exploited their followers with dishonest promotions or too much about themselves (#TooMe) have done so at their own peril.

A recent study by the Dubai-based communications conglomerate BPG Group and survey giant YouGov revealed that four out of five users (79 per cent, to be precise) in the UAE and Saudi Arabia had unfollowed social media influencers due to the promotional content they post. The very reason why influencers can be popular - for suggesting improvements to our lives if we follow what they do - can result in their unpopularity if things that such influencers promote fail to meet audience expectations.

Brands often gauge an influencer's worth by the number of their followers and not necessarily their talent. The problem with being dishonest on social media is that it can rebound real fast. Followers may end up trying a restaurant that an influencer suggests, but if the said restaurant doesn't meet their expectations, the influencer ends up losing her/his credibility - and followers. Celebrity endorsements have and will always work wonders for brands, but social media influencers will have to find the right rhythm and will need to remain honest if they are to remain credible in these incredible times.

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