Introducing The Next Generation Of Leaders And Thinkers

An In-Depth Interview With Social Media Influencer Anna Russett

Photo Credit: Alina Tsvor

In the age of social media, sometimes your screen can be somewhat corrupt. Advertisements flood Youtube videos, sponsorships are wack, and original content can rarely be found. Anna Russett, a content creator and social media connoisseur, is challenging the media we know today by giving others a voice through her platforms. I interviewed Russett to learn more about her goals and aspirations, as well as learn more about her plans to re-invent the internet.

Provide some background information on yourself and facts that may be unknown.

Hi! I’m Anna Russett. I’ve been working online and in social media for the past five years, building up an amazing audience of over 200,000 across multiple platforms. My goal is to partner with other young women to influence the world around us and be critical of how the world is trying to influence us. I listen to and learn from my audience, taking them seriously – which is one of the reasons I’ve found success.

You have a very successful Youtube channel with over 100,000 subscribers. When and why did you decide to start up your channel? Do you think it helped you in any way, shape, or form?

I started making YouTube videos in 2010 and most of them are just short clips of me lip syncing to songs and showing little boring moments in my life. I was fascinated that I could just record myself doing everyday things and upload these clips to a social platform where anyone could stumble across them.

I didn’t really start making planned videos for my YouTube channel until 2012, when I started to gain followers and realized the power in this platform.

Having a YouTube channel and following has definitely helped me. It has shown me the power of community and has helped my career path immensely. My videos represent my passion for a number of topics and prove how dedicated I am to communicating in different, interesting ways online.

You frequently express your love for the city of Chicago, IL. When did you decide to move there and why?

I moved in 2012 when I transferred from Ball State University in Indiana to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I wanted to live in a big city where I could build upon relationships I made there and find more creative opportunities. It’s the best decision I’ve made in my life so far! My mind cracked wide open when I moved. For the first time in my life, I was surrounded by so many different people from all different walks of life. Living in Chicago and going to art school forever changed how I think and view the world, and I’m immensely grateful for that.

You’ve recently used the social media app Snapchat to discuss important issues in society, such as the Muslim Ban, with other people around the world. Why did you decide to do this, and how do you think it will benefit others?

After Trump signed the executive order, there was a lot of conversation happening online and in person about what exactly would happen, how people were being affected, and consequences of such an inhumane order. I realized I had yet to talk with my followers about this and see how it was affecting them, but I wanted to talk about it with them in a way that many people could join in and hear from girls all over the world. It’s different when you hear from someone in a video talking about their real life experiences versus seeing a tweet online. It’s more personal and impactful. I wanted us all to try to feel what girls around the world were feeling because of this ban.

You posted photos and content about the recent Women’s March in Chicago. How do you take advantage of your platform and influence others to take a stand?

Photo Credit: Anna Russett

I want to use my platform with purpose and encourage my followers to have an informed point of view on current events and political issues. I’m also trying to make my platform more 1:1 and less like I’m on a pedestal as someone who has followers, broadcasting down to a group of people. I want to shift away from that hierarchy given to people with followers to a more level experience and treat followers like the real, amazing people they are who can also have an impact on others and influence their world.

Do you express yourself in any other mediums other than through social media platforms?

I use the web to express myself, which I think is a more ideal place to share ideas and communicate. Social media has a lot of good about it, but I think it’s becoming too centralized and limited. The web has infinite possibilities yet we’re encouraged to stay within the lines of the most popular social media platforms and to think of those as the Internet. There’s so much more potential outside of these walled gardens and I want to continue to find more interesting ways to use the web.

What is your main goal in life? Please be thorough.

I’m still trying to figure that out. As I mentioned before, I want to partner with other young women to influence the world around us and be critical of how the world is trying to influence us. So I think my life’s goal is something involving that. It’s tough because I have so much passion for so many things and so little time. Luckily my passions have helped lead me in a promising direction so far.

What do you want to or wish you could change about social media and it’s affects?

So many things! I’ll just suggest a few things here. I wish social media platforms took into account women’s’ and minorities’ points of view before implementing new updates. Often time, the men in control of these platforms don’t think about how things like bullying affect different folks online and don’t work in a way for many people to use their platform safely.

I wish these platforms were more transparent about the transaction we’re forced to sign up for if we use their platforms. Social media seems free but it’s not really free – we’re the product. We hand over our data to these powerful platforms that do not tell us what they know about us or what exactly they do with the data.

I wish platforms worked more in favor of their users vs. the brands and advertisers that use their platforms. I wish we could move to a different system of making money on these platforms instead of relying on advertising.

Do you have any advice for social media influencers?

Know your worth. Don’t let brands or advertisers take advantage of you. They need you.

Also, get to know your audience for real. Having a community is amazing and there is so much potential when people are united around a cause or a shared interest. If you want to use your platform with meaning, make sure you yourself have an informed opinion before sharing ideas online. Your influence is real and has consequences.

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