Anja Lapčević, Kingfluencers’ Chief Influence Officer, has a vision to encourage conscious behavior in influencer marketing. Working with Barbara Fry, Anja recently co-founded Conscious Influence Hub (CIH), a non-profit NGO. Kingfluencers’ Content Contributor Megan Bozman spoke with Anja about the new organization and conscious influence in general.
The Growing Importance of Social Media as communication medium
Anja explains her vision,
We need to be aware of the relevance of social media — both professionally and privately. What started as a fun and exciting platform is now one of the most relevant communication channels for not only individuals, but also companies and politicians.
As social media grows in importance, so do the dangers that come along with it and the responsibility we all share towards our communities and society as a whole because the information or content we share can have real consequences, including people‘s decisions and mental wellbeing.
I realized that over the past few years, and especially 2020, social media has become an important and serious medium, especially for younger generations. It’s not just about posting selfies and showing your world how you want it to be perceived. Many of the topics frequently discussed are very serious, such as politics, mental health, and racism. It is more crucial than ever to be aware of the impact and consequences of our words and actions.
Responsibilities of Influencers
As soon as you’re active on social media you have a degree of responsibility, and as your community of followers grows — which can be an important goal for some people — , that responsibility becomes even more important. It might not seem as such, but at any moment you’re talking to your community as a role model, especially as an influencer. When people start turning to you for inspiration or advice this is even more the case. Every person then has the choice to make on how you want to use that influence and which example you want to set. One choice can be to use it for good. One recent example of using influence to help others is the Family of 5. The Travel Blog recently offered support to help promote the many small businesses impacted by the pandemic.
Unfortunately, there are many issues where people and companies are left without guidance, such as the protection of children’s privacy, and dealing with bullying and disinformation. The lack of guidelines and standards for how people should use social media prompted Anja and Barbara to build a nonprofit organization.
Building an Influencer Code of Conduct
As the first influencer marketing agency in Switzerland, Kingfluencers recognized this issue and reacted by establishing the first code of conduct in summer 2020. Working with this new association, we will take additional steps and create a new Code of Conduct that includes best-practice guidelines and examples, posted on the Conscious Influence Hub.
Our goal is for the organization to function like a think tank, a place where you can ask questions and hopefully get solutions to guide conscious behavior on social media and online in general.
Therefore, it’s very important to have the involvement of both influencers and experts in various fields. Our advisory board includes university professors, as well as people from NGOs and for-profit companies. I find the connection between the academic/ theoretical and practical worlds is often missing, and it’s very important to have the input of both. We’re working together to establish a strong foundation with the best of both worlds.
Affecting Not Just Jobs, But Lives & Society
Anja pointed out that the topic doesn’t just affect our jobs, but our entire lives, our society, and our children.
Becoming a mom was an extra motivation for me. In a few years, my child will face these problems, so I want to be part of the solution and luckily organizations like Kingfluencers and our founding members and advisors make that possible ? We can’t close our eyes; we have to be proactive looking for solutions. The association will hopefully be a part of a better future.
CIH’s goals include building an online tutorial and fostering a community with many influencers. After reviewing the tutorial and Code of Conduct, anyone who shares these values can join for free and connect with other community members. CIH will also participate on Instagram and LinkedIn, potentially adding other channels depending on the rate of growth.
Selecting Advisors & Influencers
When asked how advisors were selected, Anja explained that CIH sought reliable people who could serve as role-models. Commitment and desire to enact change were very important.
We would talk first, to hear if they share the same values and if they want to work together. Advisors are not paid. We need people who are motivated to work for a nonprofit. Our slogan is, ‘We Share the Responsibility.’ All of us have a responsibility in life, but especially on social media.
Additionally, it wasn’t important how many followers you have on social media. We wanted to work with new faces, rather than limiting ourselves to a few big stars. Many people are influencers because they influence people with messages and content. I also wanted to work with influencers who work on a variety of channels, addressing different topics and generations. The result is a diverse mix of people including influencers in sustainability, LGBTQ lifestyle, and food, a YouTube trendsetter, and someone from French-speaking Switzerland, so we represent all of Switzerland.
Co-founders Anja and Barbara also sought diversity in selecting advisory board members. The board includes representatives from a corporation, an NGO, and a university, along with a lawyer, an author of a book on ethics, and an influencer dedicated to fighting racism in Switzerland.
Anja stated, “I’m super proud of the association because I think we’re a colorful mix of people. I was so surprised to encounter so many people who are also very passionate about it. Although they’re busy people, I didn’t have to convince them, they were super committed.”
The Importance of Handling Mistakes
When asked about the possibility of conflicts arising among members, Anja replied,
I’m very much looking forward to having more people join and contribute to the discussions. Of course, you always have that risk of conflict. People aren’t like machines; you can’t program them. They make mistakes, and one of the most important topics in the Code of Conduct is handling mistakes.
It’s important to learn from each other how we handle mistakes. People don’t have to be perfect. Social media is changing all the time, we have to also develop guidelines and work on ourselves. We all have emotions and lives with real stories, and that’s the beautiful side of it.
A united force for positive change
Of course, it is also a prime goal of the Hub to raise awareness for a variety of themes and use our influencer network as a powerful force for positive change, not just by setting the example but also by pro-actively investing together and pushing good causes to the top of the agenda and increase people‘s awareness and participation in building a better society together. Over time we will set up campaigns aimed at tackling key issues like bullying and using the voices and platform of our members to inspire everyone to do better, turning social media more into a beacon of light where we can unite, learn and improve together.
Author: Megan Bozman, Owner @Boz Content Marketing