An Honest Conversation About The Impact Of Social Media On Confidence And Self-Esteem

Social Media Week

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In the age of social media, both individual and collective voices are amplified more than ever before. A panel of accomplished women’s advocates, moderated by Tiffany Dufu, Levo’s Chief Leadership Officer, have seen a wide impact on the confidence and self-esteem of women of all ages.

The Dove #speakbeautiful campaign encouraged people using Twitter at the Oscars to speak positively about the celebrities around them. The goal was to shift the focus to the talents of the people on the stage, as opposed to their looks walking down the Red Carpet.

“It’s so empowering to have a brand like Dove that sees that beauty comes in different forms and wants to move that perception around,” said Kirstine Stewart, VP of North American Media Partnerships at Twitter.

Social media has given a more authentic voice to people who want representation and respect. Sarah Conley is a blogger and social media marketer for Style It, a blog she started ten years ago for the plus-size community.

When she saw a piece in “O Magazine” saying only thin people could wear croptops, she asked her Twitter followers to share photos of themselves wearing crop-tops—and the #RockTheCrop movement exploded instantly.

But what about the constant barrage of ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ surrounding young women?

“We’ve normalized a whole set of things,” explained Danah Boyd, Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research. “Instead of saying, ‘Oh, I got such a nice compliment from you today!’ we say, ‘I got six likes and it doesn’t matter who they’re from.’”

On social media, Dufu noted, “individual voices become collective and become even more powerful,” but this can also happen with negativity.

“Social media is like a brick: you can either use it build an orphanage or you can use it to break windows,” said Laura Willard, Senior Writer at Upworthy. “I know it’s hard for kids growing up in the age of social media, but there’s an opportunity for the positive, as well.”

The #speakbeautiful Effect, Dove’s next campaign launching at SXSW, will take the movement one step further with a new tool that measures the impact of your words on social media and reports them back to you.

“When you speak beautiful,” Stewart said, “you get rewarded.”


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Kate Canfield

MBA Student, Columbia Business School


Kate is an MBA student at Columbia Business School focused on technology, entrepreneurship and international business. Before grad school, she directed business development for a New York City startup and managed a team of consultants on revenue-driving strategies for new ventures. She has supervised product-development across multiple projects as a nonfiction editor at St. Martin’s Press and has reported on events and conferences on a range of topics in NYC since 2011. She holds a B.A. cum Laude in economics from Amherst College.

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