Local influencers with a cause

An influencer needs to have the ability to build engagement with a core audience and maintain it or risk losing followers

by LYDIA NATHAN / pic source: herinspirasi.com

THE value of influences in the social media sphere has soared significantly because of the way some individuals have over the public and how they shape others’ way of thinking on a day-to-day basis.

A social media influencer can be defined as an influential person or an advocate who promotes or educates on products, services or ideas that can impact individuals today, for the better or worse.

More than just the numbers of followers, an influencer needs to have the ability to build engagement with a core audience and maintain it or risk losing followers and decrease their chances of gaining recognition.

Here are some of Malaysian influencers who have, over the past decade, used their fame and status as a platform for something more meaningful.

Thanuja Ananthan

The vivacious 34-year-old with envious locks comes from a background of modelling and beauty pageants after having participated in Miss World Malaysia 2009, but has now added television hosting and animal advocate to that list.

With 884,000 followers on Instagram, Thanuja (picture; left)  is an active social media influencer who can be seen posting videos of her daily emcee gigs and her health and fitness regime, but most importantly her advocacy for the strays of Malaysia.

The beauty queen has six cats, two dogs, a rabbit, a turtle, 12 fish and a sugar glider, all rescued except for the last two.

Going by the motto “adopt don’t shop”, Thanuja’s vision for the country is to be completely strayfree without hurting the animals.

She is no stranger to the animal rescue community as she is regularly seen attending and actively taking part in awareness activities around Klang Valley.

In 2018, she joined forces with Lip & Co founder Kelvin Tan to spearhead a social awareness campaign after news of a pregnant cat was thrown into a dryer, causing its death, surfaced.

Launching a limited edition cruelty-free kisses lip kit, Thanuja knew she had found the right partner in Tan’s brand because its products are 100% vegetarian and kind to the environment.

Aside from being very outspoken on these issues, she has found time to appear in movies like “Temuan Takdir”, “DM Hati Awak” and “Anak Merdeka”.

Nana Al-Haleq

Fitness model, motivator, certified coach and television host Nana Al-Haleq has always been active ever since she was a young girl and was crowned Best Sportswoman of The Year at the tender age of 15.

Today, Nana has 194,000 followers on Instagram, where she regularly posts videos of different targeted body workouts, healthy recipes for food and smoothies, as well as dieting tips.

With a mission to combat obesity among Malaysians, she was invited as a fitness coach for Astro Arena’s Bootcamp, Astro Bella’s Jom Kurus, Jom Kurus 1 Malaysia and Ikon Jom Kurus 1 Malaysia.

In addition to that, Nana had previously hosted a number of television shows like Astro Be Fitness Battle 2017 and Astro Bella Home Workout 2015 & 2016.

Melissa Tan

Host and model Melissa Tan is known for her passion on environmental issues and aims to educate the public on living a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

With 49,000 followers and making a name for herself as a zero-waste advocate, her profile features videos of her buying preloved clothes, do-it-yourself projects from reusable items, recycling waste and has even taken inspiration from Marie Kondo with tips on decluttering the right way.

Her journey officially began when she met Claire Sancelot, founder of Hive Bulk Foods, the largest zero-waste shop in Malaysia and Singapore.

In her blog, Tan said hearing how Westerners were challenging the norms rather quickly, she felt the urge to come up with ideas and access that would least impact the environment.

Today, Tan said she wants to be a part of that global change and hopefully inspire everyone to follow through, one step at a time.

Sherlyn Mama

This young entrepreneur is an allrounder persona, advocating against body-shaming, raising awareness about stray management, modelling fashion for all sizes and a mental health advocate to her 471,000 followers on Instagram.

Despite the fame, she has openly spoken about the lowest point in her life and its trials, and is now passionate about sharing the message across with her followers. Being very transparent about her battle with depression, Sherlyn said she had become suicidal at a juncture in her life until she discovered the love for exercising to which she credits her fight through it.

Sherlyn then ventured into an online business, first selling preloved clothes before deciding to design her clothing line called Twenty3, raking in close to RM1 million in its first year.

However, the company could not keep up with the rising cost and she announced via Instagram that the line would be discontinued, but not before she was heavily criticised for her unconventional body shape.

Today, the 32-year-old’s social media features videos and pictures that tell women to be content with themselves no matter the size.

Sherlyn also is an active participant in the trap-neuter-release-manage movement, which is a humane alternative to the euthanasia of strays in Malaysia, regularly taking part in adoption drives and even rescuing the animals herself.

Arwind Kumar

The 24-year-old Arwind has been using his fame as a platform to create awareness and discuss serious topics that teens face today, all with a touch of light-hearted humour (pic source: twitter.com/aforarwind)

Social media star Arwind Kumar shot to fame after impersonating a politician’s wife, creating much-needed humour for his 157,000 followers on Instagram.

But, the 24-year-old who has his self-titled channel on Youtube has been using his fame as a platform to create awareness and discuss serious topics that teens face today, all with a touch of light-hearted humour.

After being bullied in school, Arwind became determined to bring these issues to light and this year returned as the StandTogether Kindness Ambassador, in support of National Kindness Week for the second year now.

Initiated by The Star’s R.AGE and property developer SP Setia Bhd, the campaign aims to educate and create a different culture of kindness in schools, especially since cyberbullying and violence in schools have escalated in the last few years.

When he is not making videos that encourage and inspire, Arwind runs a school called Gurukul with his mother, to whom he credits for his strength.

The school provides free tuition and dance classes, workshops for students, yoga classes for health benefits and also assist the students in finding jobs and the paying of college fees.