Are Social Media Influencers Changing You?

Influencers. They used to be your parents, respected adults, or accomplished peers. Now they are strangers who hold a certain appeal and use their influence to sell you a product, idea, or lifestyle.

Social media influencers are powerful. A recent Nielsen survey found that 92% of consumers trust an influencer over an advertisement or a celebrity endorsement. That’s because good influencers present themselves as “one of us.” They are relatable but aspirational – in other words, we see ourselves in them, but a better version, the one we want to be.

That’s wonderful if the influencer is positive, emotionally mature, or shares a motivational message, not so wonderful if he or she promotes an unhealthy lifestyle, has questionable values, or encourages us to idolize money, fame, or a certain body image.

The Kardashian family has made billions of dollars, and much has come from their business endeavors, which always rely on regular social media promotion. Further, their social media promotion almost always relies on scantily clad and provocative photos. Scroll through any of their accounts and you will be bombarded by photos like these. Now imagine a young girl following the Kardashians and being influenced by these images. What does this content tell her about what’s important? How she should present herself? How to make money? Even as adults, we can’t help but be affected by the images, to compare ourselves, and possibly to change our own actions or standards based on what we see. 

Lily Kate

But the social media influencing world can also be uplifting and inspirational. Lily Kate is a young influencer who works to promote God, pro-life values, and healthy living for her 46,000 young followers. After discovering that Los Angeles was enveloping her in a world of superficiality, she moved back to Houston and re-worked her social media brand to be more God and conservative-based. Now she holds Bible studies with her followers and uses her influence to demonstrate that girls can be powerful and strong without flaunting their bodies or using sex to sell.

Because both types of influencers flood social media, it’s important for parents to know who their kids are following. And it’s important to talk with your kids about what they are learning from these influencers and what they like about them. This will help facilitate discussion about positive and negative role models and why it’s preferable to surround yourself with the former, not the latter.

But then also take a look at yourself, because kids and teens are not the only ones affected by these influencers. Remember the old saying, “Garbage in, garbage out?” Whatever you are putting into your mind and your body is exactly what you are going to become. So in addition to monitoring who your kids are following on social media, take your own pulse to see what – and who is influencing you every day as you scroll through Instagram.

It’s true that a grocery cart can tell you a great deal about the person pushing it. Is he healthy? Does he have a dog or cat? Is he shopping for a big family or just himself? Does he enjoy wine with dinner? Is he a cook who values fresh ingredients or one who goes for the ease of a frozen entrée?

The same is true of who people are following on social media – it says a lot about what’s important to them and what they value. Are they drawn to fashion, obsessed with fitness, intrigued by celebrities, seeking book recommendations, or looking for daily devotionals and motivational messages?

It’s fine to be into any or all of that, as long as you’re honest with yourself about the impact of your daily feed. Think about those words – “your daily feed.” You are, indeed, consuming – information, lifestyle advice, ideals, morals, values, beliefs, desires, goals. If you’re going to bring all of that into your mind, your body, and your heart, make sure it is positive and makes you a better person.

Lily Kate Cole will be speaking at the Katy Christian Chamber Breakfast this Friday, April 16, at 7:00 am at Church on the Rock in Katy. Tickets and reservations are at this link and include a delicious breakfast, an uplifting meeting, and a presentation by Social Media Influencer Lily Kate.

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Dr. Rebecca Deurlein
Dr. Rebecca Deurlein

Rebecca Deurlein is the author of Teenagers 101: What a top teacher wishes you knew about helping your kid succeed, and President of Teenager Success 101, a one-on-one academic coaching company dedicated to helping kids find success. She blogs and writes internationally, speaks to parents across the nation, and loves every minute of living in Sugar Land, TX. Find her on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Huffington Post, or through her own blog A Teacher’s Guide to Understanding Teenagers. All can be accessed at