Social Media Clout

Is Clout the new form of currency?

May 27, 2019

Something I've been thinking about lately is clout, which is defined as influence or power, especially in politics or business, but lately is more related to social media. Someone who has a lot of followers on Instagram is considered to be someone with a lot of clout. And it makes sense why, but I'm starting to wonder if this is becoming a new form of currency.

As a follower of the NELK boyz, I found their new skit hilarious where they pranked a bunch of models at Coachella claiming they weren't allowed in the party because they didn't have enough clout.

And then there is also the Black Mirror episode on Netflix where the entire world is run on a rating system which affects their ability to rent apartments, book flights and hang out at certain places. 

In a comedic skit, it's fun to watch, but I wonder how much truth is behind this new way of looking at people in society and it makes me wonder how important this will be moving forward.

I mean it's already been shown that someone with a lot of clout can buy cars, tickets to concerts and other expensive or even exclusive items just from a 10 second shoutout on Instagram. Followers of the YouTube community might've even seen recently the drama that was related to James Charles which was started because he shouted out a brand that competed with his close friend in exchange for backstage passes.

Although, these seem to be extreme cases, only reserved for "celebrities" I still wonder about how this would affect my own life. As a first world problem, obviously we're decades away from that. But, as someone who's trying to climb the ladder on YouTube I have noticed this invisible clout wall hurting my ability to grow.

I once heard in a podcast these girls talking about receiving DM's (direct messages) from random men and in the conversation they pointed out that they usually don't open anything without a blue check mark next to their name. A blue check mark as defined by Instagram is:

"A check that appears next to an Instagram account's name in search and on the profile. It means Instagram has confirmed that an account is the authentic presence of the public figure, celebrity or global brand it represents"

Or basically someone with enough clout that they have people trying to impersonate them. It's become an official validation from the world that you are in the top tier of people. 

I noticed this as I was trying to reach out to people of influence. A couple of months ago I made a list of some YouTubers who I was inspired by regardless of their subscriber count or popularity. I reached out to all of them either through e-mail or social media and I wrote very personal messages which were short and sweet but punctuated the message by asking a single question.

My goal here was to ask them questions about the business side of YouTube to help further my education, but also build a relationship with these people as I grew in the community. 

I was surprised that even the YouTubers with under 10K subscribers didn't message me back. I only got a response from one person and it was mostly because I e-mailed him 4-5 different times. 

I'm not complaining though, I figured it was a long shot. But it did open my eyes to the value of clout. I bet if I had a blue check mark, I could message any other celebrity and most of them would respond. I mean even in my own process I chose people to message based on how many subscribers they had. I myself used that metric as a form of social status. 

So I wonder, is this becoming the new currency? Clout is something you can't buy with money, so does that make it more valuable?

And if so, which side of the fence do I want to be on in 10-20 years? Should I care about it? Will we have a choice?

(wal•do) — Person
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