Like celebrities, social media influencers can create big impacts every time they endorse election candidates. As an alternative to biased media news, independent bloggers are also being sought after for their opinions on things political. Are bloggers and influencers alike required to speak their minds about political issues? Should followers demand words from people of influence who choose to distance themselves from politics?
Some netizens think bloggers and influencers are non-political and non-partisan. This idea comes from the mistake of linking them to corporate advertisers and promoters. Conversely, some political activists demand words from bloggers and influencers through their platforms to influence the minds of their followers on a certain political or social issue, especially during elections.
As we go and dig deeper into discussing this dilemma, let’s explain the difference between a blogger and an influencer and what they do. Generally, people think that being a blogger is equal to being an influencer. That is far from the truth.
On Simple Delineation
First, a blogger is not an influencer, and vice versa. Not all bloggers are influencers, and not all influencers are bloggers. Second, bloggers deal with any topic available under the sun; political blogging is just one of them. On the other hand, influencers are more limited in the scope of their influence. Third, as a free citizen, a blogger or an influencer has the right to be political or non-political, partisan or non-partisan. And lastly, when a blogger or influencer chooses to take a political stand, the action is not necessarily connected to his/her chosen niche or his/her person and character.
It is also important to note that a blogger is not similar to a vlogger. A blogger writes a blog article for a website while a vlogger creates video content for Facebook, TikTok, or YouTube.
On Strong Connections
Both bloggers and influencers belong to the strategic marketing of many businesses, commonly called influencer marketing. Though many bloggers, like most influencers, are connected to PR agencies that promote and advertise local and international companies, they take a stand on political issues as independent individuals. Some influencers have signed contracts and enjoy some benefits, but many are not receiving payments like regular employees. Sometimes, influencers only get tokens or free meals without a single peso in exchange for their professional work as writers, designers, photographers, marketers, tech-savvies, and the like.
Furthermore, many bloggers and influencers are independent individuals who work as employees or do some entrepreneurial endeavors. Being connected to an advertising or PR agency is just one of the multiple gigs they have and does not define their overall life or personality, let alone their political thoughts.
On Being Influential
Influencer marketing is created because many bloggers, vloggers, and YouTubers have the potential to reach a lot of online users. Companies, both local and international, take the opportunity to extend their reach through the influence of these social media icons. In this manner, marketing agencies and even politicians can save their budget from a million worth of commercial advertisements. If successful, this can give them a win-win situation because companies and influencers can gain both followers. However, when a blogger or an influencer is promoting a product or a service, he/she is not only reaching out to people who like the company. Many product users or brand loyalists are also active on political issues. Thus, many political activists are also trying to pressure influencers to speak to advance their agenda. The problem is that influencers can still receive haters and bashers whether they comment on political controversies or not.
On Taking a Stand
Though bloggers and influencers have a wide audience, they are not still as influential as many celebrities or politicians are. When an online personality goes out of his or her niche, followers can recognize the difference. This is especially true if the blogger or influencer is not known to speak about politics. Thus, when they take a political stand, they can either receive praise or derogatory comments. Nevertheless, some bloggers and influencers are bold and keen enough when they whip a political or social issue.
Because of sponsors or corporate connections, some personalities, like brand ambassadors, are adamant about taking a political stand. Thus, they choose to remain silent or become neutral. As free individuals, it is their right to do so; and it must be respected. On the other hand, the ones who choose to speak, whether they are connected to an agency or not, should also be respected. The political action they take is more connected to their personal values and national citizenship than to their identity as bloggers, influencers, and brand ambassadors.
Question: Are bloggers and influencers alike required to speak their minds about political issues? Should followers demand words from people who have a wide scope of influence but choose to distance themselves from politics?
Answer: Bloggers and influencers are not required to speak up. We must know that everyone has the right to choose whether they will keep their political beliefs to themselves or not. Politics is just one of the many interests available in the market of knowledge. A mathematician cannot force a linguist to specialize in mathematics. An epidemiologist doesn’t have to expect a politician to know more about SARS-CoV-2 and how it affects a COVID-19 patient. In the same manner, a political activist cannot demand words from bloggers or influencers who are not interested in politics.
I know a lot of co-bloggers who are bold and straightforward when they comment on political issues. Though I disagreed with them in many cases, I still love the idea that they are speaking their minds. I have a distaste for apathy, but I have no right to force people to speak about politics, let alone embrace my political ideas. That’s what democracy is all about. While we are fighting for a presidential or senatorial candidate, we should also respect the right of others to live in peace and silence, especially if we already know that they don’t have something to say about politics.