Person on their phone using social media.The growth of social media has completely transformed the way people interact, communicate, and engage; the different social media platforms play a key role in increasing outreach and influence over millions of people (Arora, et al., 2019). Social media is no longer a place where you just post pictures or write blogs for entertainment; it has become a place to educate people about environmental issues. Since the Covid pandemic, we have seen a rise of social media influencers, who are individuals that exercise influence on people’s purchasing decisions and lifestyles due to their knowledge and expertise on a specific topic. From fashion to social issues such as the environment, they are leading the trend to promote specific products or ideas. According to Taylor (2021), influencers are essential for the marketing of brands and their products especially, because their recommendations seem more natural compared to ads and help to build a relationship with customers. There are different types of influencers, and they are distinguished by their follower numbers (online influencers), by the type of content they share, and by their level of influence (such as celebrities). Influencers make regular posts about a topic on their social media platforms where they have a large number of followers and encourage them to change their lifestyle or to pay attention to what they are promoting.

A sustainable influencer is someone who promotes products that are considered to be sustainable, shares healthy tips or recipes, and informs followers about ethical or eco-friendly brands. By doing so, they don’t only help to promote sustainability across different platforms but they also support businesses. Among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations, goal #12 highlights the importance of responsible consumption and production. Social media influencers can have a significant impact on their consumers’ consumption behavior, perceptions or beliefs, and attitudes toward sustainability. Depending on your interest, social media offers a wide range of content that can impact your lifestyle such as sustainable fashion, green energy, sustainable travel, sustainable lifestyle, green cosmetics, and food and zero waste to promote sustainable consumption models. With an increasing number of consumers becoming more responsive to sustainable consumption ideas, it is important to have an appropriate use of communication tools like social media to reach people around the world so there can be an increase in information sharing, participation, and engagement with sustainability content.

Social media and influencers can both negatively and positively affect a consumer’s behavior around sustainable consumption. An issue with the trend of green influencers is that they can also promote over-consumption without realizing it. As a consumer, you should carefully make sure the influencer you look up to is not pushing people to buy more and question how they are impacting our consumption behavior. In addition, it is important to remember that products promoted by any influencers are not guaranteed to be what they claim to be; they might not represent your values or work as they are supposed to. Sustainable influencers can also participate in the continuation of greenwashing within the green industry. Some brands use social media platforms to greenwash their products in order to make large profits with little to no environmental benefit; they simply want to present themselves as a green brand to look credible.

Eco-friendly content creators and influencers inform consumers about their consumption or available products, but they can also use their influence to put pressure on policymakers regarding environmental issues and educate people. Social platforms allow more voices to be heard, for activists to connect across borders, and to denounce social inequities.

The power of social media influencers has been a foundation for businesses to promote their products and a way to engage and educate consumers. Social media influencers are people who use their platforms to change the way consumers search and select products and services. Even though they are mostly useful as marketing tools, they can also have other purposes such as promoting sustainable consumption and changing people’s views on environmental issues. When considering the impact of influencers on their followers, influencers can guide people to a sustainable lifestyle. It can be confusing with all the information available, or the possibility of greenwashing, to feel overwhelmed about who to follow or what to do. It is important to do your research and educate yourself about environmental issues, such as responsible consumerism, and how influencers address them. Social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Linkedin offer opportunities where you have access to eco-friendly tools, information, and connections that can help to guide people toward sustainable consumption and behavior (Seda 2021).

Works Cited

Arora, A., Bansal, S., Kandpal, C., Aswani, R., & Dwivedi, Y. (2019). Measuring social media influencer index- insights from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 49, 86-101. doi:10.1016/j.jretconser.2019.03.012. 

Seda, Yildirim. (2021, 20 September). Do green women influencers spur sustainable consumption patterns? Descriptive evidences from social media influencers. Ecofeminism and Climate Change, 2(4), 198-210. doi:10.1108/EFCC-02-2021-0003. 

Taylor, Erika. (2021, July 19). The Paradox Of The “ Sustainable Influencer”. Remake.