Recently, I stumbled upon a video made by my pre-teen daughter on my phone. It was a 3-minute-long video featuring herself and she was reviewing a board game we had bought for her as a Diwali gift. To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised – the video looked almost YouTube and Instagram worthy! She had spoken with aplomb, her script was fun, and she had even edited the video herself. When I applauded her efforts, she hesitantly revealed that she aspired to be a YouTuber for a career. Needless to say, I was taken aback.
I told her that we would discuss it later, but my thoughts went on a spin. I wondered if parents should encourage their children to be social media influencers for a career. After all, it is emerging as a popular career and there is no age bar. Some kids and adults have taken to social media to carve their niche, built a strong follower base and minting a good amount of money.
After much deliberation, I came up with the pros and cons of social media influencer as a career from my perspective.
- It is a wonderful opportunity to showcase talent or hobbies and turn passion into a profession.
- It helps shed inner inhibitions as the work requires speaking or acting in front of the camera, attending public events, travelling around and networking with people/brands.
- It boosts technology acumen as a lot of effort goes into using technology, right from content creation to uploads and many other aspects.
- It can turn out to be a great source of income depending on the quality and relevance of content, number of followers and type of brand collaborations.
- It brings free goodies, event invites and other interesting brand collaborations.
- It gives a chance to be your boss.
- It puts personal privacy at risk as most social media influencers tend to document their everyday life online to connect with followers.
- It does not give a guarantee of success, fixed income or career security.
- It creates an online identity crisis – the boundary between real and virtual life is blurry. It might make you want to portray yourself that you are not in the real-life just to keep up appearances, increase the number of followers and brand collaborations, and bring more work opportunities.
- It is highly vulnerable to bullying and trolls, which could adversely affect mental and physical well-being.
In a nutshell, social media influencer as a career is a personal choice. It is an unconventional territory, but a path being taken by many. It is hard work – just like any other job or career. As far as my daughter is concerned, I feel that she still has 2-3 years to decide what career she wants to pursue. Who knows she might change her mind like she has done many times before? But, if at all, she is keen to be a social media influencer, I am going to lay down these pros and cons in open and let her decide the next course of action. As parents, we can explain right and wrong to our children, but can’t dictate their choices. Rather, we should give them the confidence to spread their wings and fly high, and let them know that they have our back, no matter what.