The film, Follow Me directed by Asri Bendacha (2018) explores the life of Social Media Influencers. Social Media influencers earn thousands of dollars per post on Instagram. Asri starts an Instagram account and documents his journey to gain as many followers as possible. Yet, building a following on Instagram is not as easy as it sounds.
In one scene, he sits on the sidewalk with a cardboard sign asking for Instagram followers. A man passing by gives him money, and Asri chases him down to return it.
“I need followers on Instagram,” he says to the man who immediately takes back his money and walks away. Many people who follow Asri do so because he asked in the face-to-face, took selfies and tagged them in the selfies. The documentary is a must-see for anyone seeking to use Instagram to influence, but as a church and missions agency, we must look at social media through the lens of authenticity and ministry. Even Social Media Influencers work to maintain the trust of their followers. In their product placements on video and photos, the products are something these influencers can support. Be real and authentic, one said. Photos do not have to be perfect, but visually engaging.
Asri shared some interesting facts:
- Millennials share 25,000 selfies in their lifetime.
- The average person spends two hours a day on social media.
- Professional photographers who were interviewed rarely do a selfie unless something is interesting in the background. A couple of photographers called selfies egotistical or self-centered.
- Children are watching less television. They are on their parents ipads and tablets watching Youtube.
- One woman in a Burka stated that Youtube was her identity.
- Kuwait is the number one user of Instagram per capita.
- Youtube is used frequently in the Middle East.
- Media is the number one tool for communication.
At $30 a week, Asri bought real followers, not fake ones, but only gained a small number of followers for the cost. He began searching on Youtube for organic ways to build the audience.
People he interviewed gave helpful tips:
- Make your case why a person should care about your product or service you are selling.
- What is going to move your followers to care, buy or donate?
- Many stated social media is about offering value to others. Being generous. Serving others online (Doesn’t that sound like church?).
At VidCon, Asri encountered young teens and adults idolizing Youtube stars, wanting to have their children, and crying in pure joy when they meet a Youtuber. Two young mothers idealized a family Youtube star. Asri asked them why they followed this family’s life on Youtube. The two young moms thought the family was interesting.
“What makes them more interesting than your family?” Asri asked the young moms. The moms couldn’t answer.
As the interviews continued throughout the documentary, other interviewees shared interesting facts:
- Instagram was rated as the most negative experience for “positive or mental well-being” while Youtube was rated as the number one most positive experience.
- Women are more critical of their looks because they compare themselves to the digitally enhanced images on Instagram.
But what impacted me the most was this statement: What we see in the media governs how we see the world. It even governs how we see ourselves and what we choose to focus on. It’s why I became involved in social media.
The church can learn from Follow Me. As the film closed, Asri reveals the positive side of social media. It can be used for good. We know this as Christians, but like, in the face-to-face, relationships take time to develop. Time isn’t what most Americans have available. The problem is time management, realistic expectations, and new priorities.
- If the average person spends two-hours a day on social media, we can use that time more intentionally in online conversation with the idea of moving that online interaction to a face-to-face environment.
- If we are constantly checking our phones, are we checking because we are addicted or bored; or because we are asking the Holy Spirit to lead us to Gospel conversations?
As I prepare for Georgia and the Kingdom Focus and Kingdom Purpose workshops, Follow Me is a good reminder that what we see in the media governs how we see the world. Let’s stop the addiction and start living our online life with purpose.
Image by rawpixel from Pixabay