Social media influencers have a responsibility to behave ethically and with values said Sheikha Dr Alia bint Humaid Al Qassimi, Social Development Expert and Women Leader of the Year (2019) on second day of the International Government Communication Forum (IGCF 2020), which concluded in Sharjah today.
Speaking during a session called, ‘Influencers Win the Communication Race’, Dr Alia said that even the smallest comment from an influencer can affect so many people, either positively or negatively, which demands that they have a strong value system guiding their media influence strategies and activities.
Dr Alia has a wide and strong influence on social media and is a role model for women everywhere. When asked during the Q&A session whether social media influencers could be controlled, Dr Alia noted, “Why would you want to? They must reach where they intend to be, organically. It is not for any of us to judge the other person . Instead, we can raise awareness among followers so they can make up own minds about who to follow.”
Dr Alia said she came to social media quite by accident, needing to remember quotes. So instead of writing them down on a notepad where they could get lost or ruined, she started posting them on her twitter account. To her surprise, people began engaging with her posts.
Her advice on how to create a digital footprint was simple, “My advice is to always just be yourself, be genuine, even if you use the different platforms in different ways. Always be authentic.”
Famous media sports personality Mustafa Agha, the Head of MBC Sports, was the session’s next guest. Agha, who has an incredible following on social media and hosts one of the most-watched TV programmes in the Arab World, urged the audience to be mindful on social platforms and beware of false information. He said that science and knowledge are powerful when it comes to distinguishing between fact and fiction, and being socially aware and well educated helps stem the tide of falsehoods.
Agha reminded audiences, however, that social media was invented primarily for entertainment and not to convey political, religious or social ideas. “No social media influencer is required to be a certificate holder or an expert of any particular subject, just to convey an idea or opinion. What will matter is the kind of content they share. If it is valuable to their followers, they will get to keep their followers and by default, get more followers. It is easy to obtain fame through social media, but it is difficult to obtain influence and loyal followers,” he said.
Media figure Mohammed Al-Mulla, owner of the media outlet FutureNews and ‘Diwan AlMulla’ media network on social media platforms, also addressed the Forum. He said, “All influencers are individual, and convey messages in their own way. What’s important is that these messages must have credibility to gain the confidence of their followers.”
He added that one of the most important positive influencer behaviours is when they report on any poor government services they received to government agencies and officials.
The session was moderated by media figure and TV host, Hussein Al-Amri.
IGCF 2020 was organised by the International Government Communication Centre (IGCC), a subsidiary of the Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB), under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.