Influencer culture: can it survive the lockdown?
Print Features Editor Bethany Collins shines a light on the power influencers have over our spending habits and how the coronavirus lockdown has made us question the role they play in our lives.
Coronavirus has continued to claim lives, jobs and livelihoods since the lockdown began. Travel bloggers have swapped their panoramic ocean views for comfy sofa selfies. In the same way I watched coffee dates drop out of my calendar, social media influencers saw brand deals and partnerships fall through. We have all been squeezed financially, making savings in just about every area of life, and the economic future of the United Kingdom appears bleak at best. With poor financial prospects ahead, and people more hesitant to splash the cash, it begs the question of how influencer culture can emerge post lockdown.
I for one have been guilty of aimlessly scrolling through Instagram and falling for the flat-lays of edited beauty or products. I have purchased items through affiliate links and have fallen for the notion that these products would change my life. I believed that buying a specific brand of mascara would make me that little bit more attractive or successful. I think most of us that have an Instagram account have been there. Now, I am prioritising where my cash goes with my limited student income and fears for my financial future. I don’t have the money to spend on lipstick because one of the Kardashians wore it and would almost certainly cause my crush to fall head over heels for me.
I have purchased items and have fallen for the notion that these products would change my life
It’s not just audiences choosing how and when to part with money. Businesses are suffering from a significantly reduced income and are making decisions to save their livelihoods. It is clear to see why influencers won’t be a priority in the current climate. However, with physical stores keeping their doors closed for the time being, and some even permanently in the case of Cath Kidston, online shopping has been booming. Amazon, for example, saw their income reach $75.5 billion in the first quarter of the year, an increase in over $15 billion in the same period last year. Online delivery has been invaluable for those shielding, and with more time to scroll social media, it would seem there has never been a better time for influencers to capture their audiences. However, there is a balance to be found here with businesses trying to stay afloat and attract us Instagram addicts.
As businesses begin to reopen and footfall in shops increases, doors may also reopen to influencers. Like all businesses, influencers will face a tough time with an economic downturn on the horizon. Travel bloggers will predictably be the worst affected by the pandemic, with restrictions on travel likely to last long into the future. Influencer culture has certainly adapted over the last few months, with influencers like Joe Wicks finding his feet among home schoolers, and I’m sure it will continue to adapt to the growing economic uncertainty.
With more time to scroll social media, it would seem there has never been a better time for influencers to capture their audiences
Understandably, influencer culture is not going to look the same in the immediate future. Lockdown has become a chance for reflection for a lot of people, myself included, and I’ve thought a lot about how I’m spending my time, how intentional I am with my phone and where my money goes. I’ve thought a lot about the lies I’ve been believing, and the way social media as a whole portrays the idea of beauty. Even if vloggers and bloggers can return to the booming business of brand deals and #ads, I for one will no longer be gripped by its influence.