One way or another, individuals and organizations around the world are adjusting to their new quarantine lifestyle amidst COVID-19. Almost every aspect of our lives has been affected: health concerns, job safety, living norms, education, social interactions, and even our relationship with food and entertainment. Considering people are spending more time online, up to 50% more (according to The Guardian’s assessment of internet usage in the UK) it’s not surprising that social media and influencer roles have also changed rapidly.
Influencers hold a great deal of socioeconomic power, especially during a pandemic where many people are seeking information, entertainment, and community online. However, the world of influencer marketing has been largely unregulated, even before COVID-19. In this article, we explore how influencers are adapting their role, and why it’s important for influencers to be mindful of their influence.
Social media can encourage people to stay home
During a time like this, people need to stay at home and practice social distancing to help #flattenthecurve. Official health organizations like the CDC are encouraging people to comply with these guidelines, however, we’re seeing many brands, organizations, and platforms doing their part to raise awareness too.
Social media, needless to say, plays an extremely important role. Platforms like Instagram and Youtube – with billions of users, run plenty of campaigns encouraging social distancing. Most notably, Instagram featured “Stay at Home” stickers that inspire users who are staying at home to promote it. TikTok also links videos that mention #coronavirus to the official COVID-19 support page.
Influencers keep on influencing
Kylie Jenner, a massive celebrity and influencer with over 169M followers on Instagram, was asked by Surgeon General Jerome Adams to help in fighting COVID-19. But Kylie is not the only influencer who can help.
Influencers have immediate access to large communities of people of all ages, covering vast geographies. During COVID-19, studies have found that people are seeking up to 20% more influencer content.
Social media has always been our guilty pleasure, allowing us to peek into others’ lives, follow the trials and tribulations of someone else, an ongoing comparison of them vs me. This innate response to compare and copy, no matter how absurd, means we do the same with influencers. It is more important than ever for influencers to lead by example: by simply posting photos, stories, or videos of themselves being at home.
Moreover, influencers are trusted and liked for their ability to create content that resonates with their community. This means that influencers have so much creative power to show their audience how to navigate life during this trying time, be it cooking tips, work from home advice, or simply sharing the good, the bad, and the vulnerabilities of being human during this time.
Be aware of your privilege and who you influence
With that said, the life of a typical influencer can look quite different from our perception of normal, everydayness. Many influencers continue to maintain a reliable stream of income and are comfortably quarantining in a safe place. The reality is that not everyone has the same privilege. This is an open invitation to influencers to be mindful of what you choose to post during this time. Sensitivity and compassion are much more appealing!
Not only should influencers be mindful of the situation, but they should also be aware of the information they are sharing with followers. Influencers need to direct their community to official sources of health and safety regulations, like the CDC. False information or panic-inducing news can backfire quickly, and most importantly, be very harmful to the public.
Influencers can offer a guide to normalcy
Many influencers are contributing to the COVID-19 fight efficiently and thoughtfully. Many are offering help in different ways: like micro-influencer Mariel Song showing how to creatively (and cheekily) use everyday household objects to work out at home.
If you’re a hit-the-gym-twice-everyday-can’t-live-without-working-out type of fitness person then certified trainer influencers like Brittany Matthews can help with some home work-out plans.
We know a lot of you are studying and working from home. With influencers like Kamelia Britton, who shares blog posts and tips for concentration and efficiency from your new at-home working nook, you’ll be focused again before you know it!
There’s also the.endless.study who shares their studying journey from home, which encourages students that are also in the same situation to stay motivated and focus.
Dual-purpose social media challenges
Scrolling through social media in search of entertainment, joy and laughter is common practice. A very popular way to get involved in your social world is through “challenges”. Instagram and TikTok are using challenges as a way for people to not only engage with influencers, but also their friends and families.
The beauty community on Instagram started a challenge based on creatively wearing masks: how to create a stunning look when wearing a mask to protect yourself and others. With the hashtag #maskmakeup, beauty influencers contributed to makeup looks wearing masks, as well as some creatively enhanced masks as well.
There are many other popular challenges like #pushupchallenge, #untiltomorrow, or tagging “10 empowering females” that emerged on Instagram, which have proven hugely engaging and inspiring. The purpose of these challenges isn’t only to entertain people, but also to help build a unified community where everyone has something to participate in and look forward to.
Influencers can remind us that we are all in this together
During this time of uncertainty, everyone knows that there is nothing normal about life. Many influencers have chosen to show this crazy and ever-changing part of their lives, sharing their vulnerabilities with the world, and reminding people to switch off and take care of themselves when necessary.
Madeleine Olivia is an example of influencers who navigate this pandemic just like the rest of us: taking it day by day, the good and the bad!