Attending Social Media Week was a great experience. I got to hear people like Kirstine Stewart and Claudia Oshry AKA @girlwithnojob on Instagram. The session with Michael Landsberg stood out the most, as it made me think about not just social media, but what it means to be an influencer today. When I say influencer in this context, I mean it in the sense of being a powerful public figure that connects well with fans on a personal level. In today’s culture where everyone’s busy, 1:1 relationships with people you admire and respect can be rare, so that’s what I’d like to explore.
In 2009, Michael Landsberg interviewed an athlete named Stéphane Richerand and convinced him to acknowledge his experience with depression on-air. Once they both publicly confirmed they were dealing with mental health issues, emails started pouring into Michael’s inbox. People started confiding in Michael via email because they connected with him in the interview.
2.5 years after it aired, Michael learned that he saved someone’s life. A fan followed up with Michael to thank him and share that he had initially contacted Michael while having suicidal thoughts. They corresponded 5 times back and forth right after the interview, and at the end, Michael suggested he seek out help. Receiving a notification about Michael’s last email had a huge impact. He had already written a note to his family, but Michael gave him hope and made him change his mind.
After Michael shared this story onstage, Matt Galloway asked him: What about social media? How are you using it to achieve something similar?
When Michael was in Normandy and tweeted out a question to his followers, he received a lot of meaningful responses, which shaped his approach to Twitter. Now he says he uses it to share the ups and downs of everyday life in such a way that people can identify with and relate to him.
— Sarah Prince (@ThatPrince) November 13, 2017
After launching the social media accounts and website for his mental health initiative, Sick Not Weak, Michael realized he needed to maintain a hands-on approach because people contact them for help when they need it right away. In the first case, this meant picking up the phone to call someone in Western Canada and offer support.
Looking at his profiles, it’s clear that Michael takes his position as a mental health advocate seriously. He consistently posts motivating statements and invites people to contact him. “The more you share, the more people will share back,” he said.
Michael is inspirational because he leveraged his platform as a Canadian media personality to help people nationwide. However, you don’t need to start out on TSN to be as influential as him. Sometimes all it takes to help someone is to acknowledge and respond to their email. You could make their day and not in a cliché sense.
Sure, we can make jokes about sliding into someone’s DMs, but that’s only a funny line because that’s where social media magic happens. That’s where you can build relationships. And that’s how you can make a difference. You don’t have to hire them. Sometimes people just want you to listen.