Influencers and the Next Generation of Shoppable Content Influencers and the Next Generation of Shoppable Content We are living at a time when our voices are more critical than ever. You hear that everywhere, from everyone, and all the time. And you know what? It’s absolutely true. Global warming has gone from a scary scenario in the far future to real, imminent reality. Religious persecution in the U.S. has gone from a 16th century injustice that’s been conquered to a terrifying possibility 250 years later. Slavery has moved from a shameful part of American history to modern day law and order. Did you know that sex trade is rampant on the web? Double click on that term and you will find the dark web filled with underground child sex rings and human trafficking exploits. The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally, with 68% of them trapped in forced labor; 26% of them are children, and 55% of them are women and girls. It also estimates that forced labor and human trafficking is a $150 billion industry worldwide. That’s close to the GDP of Portugal. Does this make you sick? Good, it should. This is compounded by the fact that we are a consumer generation. As these scary stories unfold, we gobble them up. We have content coming out of our pores; we are inundated by every feed out there, news outlet, social platform, blogs, hell, this very article is an instance of it. We are a straight-up “gimme gimme” generation, and with new apps rolling out every day, we can have anything sliced up and served to us in any fashion we like the moment we see it. Groceries, designer labels, mindfulness, and mediation. Virtually everything is for sale, including things that should never be commoditized, such as human rights. There is enough drama out there in the world today to make anyone want to crawl into a hole and hide. So what’s a generation to do? The answer: #Resist. There are future generations to protect and vulnerable people to defend. As Nelson Mandela said, “Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learned how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.” Hope, fueled by action. That’s why we built Bridge2Act. The goal is to bridge the gap between sobering realities and small actions that people can take to make the world a better place. We hoped that the aggregate of these small deeds would build on each other to create something beautiful, inspiring, and impactful. Through this process, we have been blown away by the impact of the individual contributor. With social invigoration enabling a generation of influencers to use their social star power to galvanize followers into action, we have witnessed the power these perfectly-curated personalities yield in providing a voice for the world’s most exposed. We flipped the script, and focused on a generation of shoppable content that fights back. What if others used their channels as well to create content that promotes awareness and activism, simply and securely? It would be a masterpiece. Let’s point all our gimme-gimme tendencies to apps focused on furthering social good, progress, and equality. And yes, I am biased, since I co-founded a company that does just that, but there are others out there doing the same. Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn partnered with Show of Force and PBS to create A Path Appears, which is a favorite of mine. They “provide a unique and essential narrative about making a difference in the world — and a roadmap to becoming a conscientious global citizen… [it] examines the struggles women face in the United States and abroad, and the inspiring individuals working with them to create effective solutions.” The influence of celebrities has always been known, through things like ad campaigns and spokesmodels. However, lesser-known is when celebrities use their app-based notoriety to create awareness and solicit activism. We witnessed that firsthand last year on Giving Tuesday when we launched #IDreamOfChallenge at Bridge2Act. Through millions of social impressions and numerous donations, this group of amazing humans cultivated tremendous impact for over 40 nonprofits in 24 hours. Take HBO’s Ballers and Marvel’s Inhumans beauty Serinda Swan. Serinda has hundreds of thousands of followers and fans across her various social channels and her activism has always been a hallmark of her Hollywood brand. While some celebs leverage philanthropy to promote their personal brands, others are aligned to causes fundamentally at their core. Serinda is one of the latter and she is not alone. Ashley Judd, Blake Lively, Regina Hall, Eva Longoria and so many others have made activism part of their brand and it’s creating a significant opportunity for them to pay it forward in a way that strengthens their star appeal. We are a generation that can move mountains. We start revolutions, topple governments (think: the Arab Spring), make and break stars, and promote equality from our phones. Why can’t we help the unfortunate while we are at it? The essential questions become: will you be part of enacting and furthering the solutions when they present themselves? Will you take action when promoted and donate to incredible organizations doing work to create a better world for us all? What will you do about it? This is your chance. Samira Panah Samira Panah Bakhtiar is attuned to the powerful relationship that can be forged between digital media and technology. As sales manager for the Media & Entertainment Operation at Cisco Systems, Samira leads a team of highly passionate engineers and sales team members who evangelize this every day. Over the course of the last decade, her work at Cisco has led to strategic alignment and business transformation, with some of the world’s largest media conglomerates—focusing on introducing innovation and enhancing operational efficiency in the areas of production, contribution, post production, and primary & secondary distribution.