Is Influencer Marketing During Covid-19 Insensitive?

Photo by Tamara Bellis on Unsplash

As the pandemic engulfs thousands, lacs, maybe more, our dear old social-media once used to entertain ourselves with visually appealing, bite-sized content et cetera has changed purpose like never before. About 2 months ago, users started appealing for resources due severe lack of medicines, even hospital beds in India. Some resorted to use their network for help with crowdfunding for an ailing parent or a child.

Social media that we once knew, transitioned into something far more- bringing people together to help each other in a raging crisis. And social media that was a solitary source of earning for some, didn’t exist anymore, at least for a period of time.

More brands ceased to promote their services & products noting the sensitivity of the situation, whereas some, due to either the inability of their businesses to function without digital promotions or plain insensibility (we’ll never know) continued activity on their social platforms as if the pandemic never existed.

Lesser branded promotions hit the influencer industry (if I may) hard. Those who continued with their vlogs, social media activity as usual received fire from viewers. And it was quite ruthless, because not only were influencers promoting beauty/culture/lifestyle products when people were struggling to find injections, medicines & were losing their loved ones in the process, but also it drew special attention to the economic gap & the privilege of the...elite?

And yes, people were aware of this disparity before they joined Instagram. In fact, it was probably the reason they did; so they could get a peek into the lives of their beloved celebrities. However, when it is the matter of life & death, the gap doesn’t simply remain an enviable lifestyle, but brings light upon the power that comes with it- the power to save a life with access to resources. Many influencers, for this reason, found themselves at the eye of the storm. Where on one hand they had received love & adoration from their fans, subscribers, they were now subject to their wrath as well. It was almost as if the users reached an awakening to this gap that was so difficult to bridge, it was unfair.

Some influencers managed to escape this scrutiny. The ones that began using their wide reach to get their followers medical help. They acknowledged the rampant grief the country suffered, cautiously promoting on their platforms when they could.

The question remains- whether influencer marketing in its entirety is insensitive during the pandemic, or could bloggers & brands seep in a little without offending their audience. Hardcore promotions, obviously, are out of question. For marketers, I think it can be answered with how far are they willing to go.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Feel free to share in the comments! You can also get in touch with me directly at himani.sri@gmail.com

Digital Marketing Strategist, Feminist, Architect; raising a dog and moderate amounts of hell