During the second wave of feminism in the 1960’s the voice of women was represented by the likes of Betty Friedan as she looked to debunk “the feminine mystique”. By strong journalists like Gloria Steinem who challenged the Hugh Heffner definition of women and fought for women to be the sole author of the sexual revolution. These were the influencers of the past. Who are the influencers of today? Many would argue that with the proliferation of social media and the use of vanity metrics to define social influencers, the women influencing our cultural narrative are more about popularity than substance. Fortunately, from this authors opinion, that is not the case.
As a mother of 4 daughters, I worry that the voice of women is represented to my kids via eyeshadow techniques by Huda Kattan or the latest Kardashian scandal social news bits. In reality, there are plenty of social influencers that are not only ranked high through easily manipulated vanity metrics but by active metrics that include depth of online engagement and ability to impact the socio/cultural narratives. Women who more accurately represent all that we have fought for since 1960.
Using a combination of topic modeling and social diffusion analysis IZEA, an influencer & content marketing firm in Florida has identified the 25 Top Female Social Media Influencers of 2018( IZEA.com). Who did they identify as their top female influencer? Former First Lady Michelle Obama takes the top spot. Between her 10 million Twitter followers, her positive stream of high-level commentary on current events, and her coverage by other leading influencers Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) leads the 2018 list of female social media influencers. Not a bad start, right? While the remaining list of influencers includes pop stars, fashion bloggers, actresses, and models, this list also includes world champion tennis player Serena Williams (@serenawilliams), education activist and girls rights advocate Malala Yousafzai (@Malala), advocate for science and technology education for girls Karlie Kloss (@karliekloss), marketing content officer Ann Handley (@annhandley), and non-profit activist Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton). These women are listed because of their impact, not popularity.
How We Measure Matters
Social media and its influencers have immense power over our cultural frames, identities, and cultural agendas. We, as communication specialists and media consumers, need to pay attention to how we position and identify influencers. Richard Rogers (2018) proposes an alternative set of metrics using critical analysis to measure social influencers. These metrics would include dominant voice, concern, commitment, positioning, and alignment as opposed to traditional vanity metrics to gauge the impact of social influencers. It is true that vanity metrics can measure the number of followers, likes, and shares, but they do not adequately represent social impact. Rogers argues that using issue networks as opposed to pure vanity metrics to identify issue influencers is most relevant in identifying prominent voice in social movements. Movements such as what it means to be a woman in society today. This new metrics analysis includes Klout scores that measure influence with impact. Comparing those who rank as influencers through vanity metrics against those who rank high through Klout scoring metrics gives us a more accurate picture as to who is influencing social change and the socio/cultural narratives. For this mom, that is a relief. As much as I appreciate the ingenuity of the Kardashian/Jenner empire, that is not who I want defining what a woman is and should stand for to my children.
By the way, Gloria Steinem is still a voice. See what she has to say @GloriaSteinem on twitter.
IZEA.com (2018, March 27). Top female social media influencers. IZEA Retrieved from https://izea.com/2018/03/27/top-female-social-media-influencers/
Rogers, R. (2018). Digital traces in context otherwise engaged: Social media from vanity metrics to critical analytics. International Journal of Communication. Retrieved from http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/6407