Between the striking health disparities brought to light by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the tragically telling examples of systemic racism and bigotry exposed over the last several weeks, issues of inequality are weighing heavily on Americans’ collective consciousness. Now, influencers across every industry are reexamining their roles, responsibilities and relationships within this broader cultural context and reflecting on if and how to leverage their platforms to help advance social progress.
To explore some of these philosophical questions facing today’s nutrition influencers, Padilla|FoodMinds connected with several registered dietitian influencers and shared insights and best practices for engaging in social advocacy online.
Here are some of the top takeaways:
- Authenticity has become a make-or-break quality for influencers. As more users seek out unifying content that demonstrates genuine empathy, there is a fine but discernable line between an influencer pledging support and co-opting a movement. “Now more than ever, people are spending significant time online and scrolling through social media, elevating the role of influencers,” notes Mike Garrison, VP of Insights and Strategy at Padilla. “And greater visibility brings greater scrutiny.” Followers will be quick to call out lip service when messaging reads as impersonal, inconsistent or self-serving.
- Action must follow words. Whether it’s donating time or money to an affiliated cause, participating in boycotts or awareness campaigns, sharing resources and information or simply listening to others, “Influencers must find a way to walk the walk if they are going to talk the talk,” says Rosalie Morton, VP of Channels at Padilla.
- Alliances should align with personal values. As influencers evolve into “wefluencers,” promoting solidarity and shifting toward a more collaborative and communal mindset, they must be even more conscious of the company they keep. Partnering with brands or organizations who are seen as part of the problem can undermine their own credibility. As Morton also points out, “Influencers are in a powerful position to amplify resonant messages and laudable commitments being made within the business community. Joining forces with brands you believe in is one effective way to show your support.”
These past few tumultuous months have offered an opportunity to reset priorities, reaffirm core values and connect with others in new and meaningful ways. And nutrition influencers can be potent catalysts for positive social change, particularly when it comes to advocating for equal access to nutritious food, affordable nutrition services, and diversity and inclusion in nutrition education and communications.
Still, understanding and navigating these tectonic cultural shifts can be daunting. If you’re an influencer working in the food, nutrition and wellness space, and you’re interested in learning more about Padilla|FoodMinds’ perspective on digital and social media best practices with of-the-moment relevance, [email protected].
Jean Owen Curran, MS, RDN, is an Account Supervisor at FoodMinds and based in Chicago, IL.