Once upon a time, influencers were promoting tummy tea and hair vitamins. Now, along with the rest of the world struggling to adapt to the new normal, they’re broadcasting their coronavirus tests and panicked relocations.
You’ve probably noticed the change: Some of your favorite Instagrammers have ramped up their posting schedule while others have gone off the grid. Some of those who are still posting are walking on eggshells while some are not thinking twice about what they’re saying. But those who aren’t thinking hard enough are definitely noticing the backlash.
What once was thought of as a “flex” is now tone deaf and inappropriate. Showing off your thousand-dollar outfit pre-pandemic? #Goals. Showing it off mid-pandemic? #Cancelled.
So what is the right answer? Should we be focused on raising donations? Should influencers just not post at all? Few of us have the answers, but these creators are expected to figure it out fast or else risk losing their following that they’ve worked so hard to collect. And if influencer after influencer continues to fail their audience, who knows what will become of this subset of the marketing industry by the time we come out of this crisis.
Let’s take a look at some of the folks that have been hit the hardest so far and what exactly we can learn from them.
NYC blogger and fashion entrepreneur Arielle Charnas has undoubtedly been made the best example of what not to do during a pandemic. After using personal connections to receive a coronavirus test during a time in which many were unable to, she learned that she was infected and broadcasted this to all 1.3 million of her Instagram followers.
The blogger then decided it was prime time to move from the city to the Hamptons with her entire family and nanny in tow—ignoring New York’s ban on all non-essential travel. This obviously caused immediate backlash, which circulated to other platforms where strangers began criticizing everything the influencer was doing and saying.
Charnas was quick to write up an apology followed by a three-week hiatus from her Instagram account. She has since returned to her regular content, but many are still considering her “cancelled” and have decided to entirely boycott her brand.
It’s been well over a month since this catastrophe happened, and the response on the Something Navy (Charnas’ clothing brand) account is unanimous and ruthless. Comments like “Something Cringeworthy” and “Please stop posting” are glued to the top of the comment sections with dozens of likes.
It’s almost as if pretending it never happened is not doing the creator any favors. Would she be getting the same response if she had used her hiatus to rebrand herself? It seems we may never know for sure, but we would definitely like to see it. (Call us, Arielle!)
Actress turned Goop blogger Gwyneth Paltrow has also received some backlash for her chosen content during quarantine. Like many other celebrities, she has been called out for showing off her rich lifestyle while many of her followers struggle to keep their jobs in the current climate.
Paltrow’s brand, Goop, has now deleted a post that detailed the star’s $1,000 #OOTD. She has also been scrutinized for traveling to Paris at the very start of the pandemic while showing off her sold out $70 luxury face mask.
From many of the comments on Paltrow’s pages, it seems we can all agree that rich people continuing to post about their glamorous everyday lives comes off a bit more tone deaf than it normally does.
Besides the act of deleting the first post, we have yet to see any type of real response to this criticism. Maybe Paltrow’s audience is a bit more willing to ride it out with her. Surely many of her followers are fans of her acting and her influencer posts are just the cherry on top. But we can’t say every other creator has this privilege.
Here we have another celebrity influencer who has shown us why it’s important to take a moment to think about your content in the middle of a global crisis. At the start of the pandemic, Kristin Cavallari continued posting as normal, promoting her jewellery brand Uncommon James and even launching some new products.
Despite all the backlash, she continued posting updates and sales and even a snapshot of her “social distancing” on a beach in The Bahamas. She seemed to be doing her best to ignore the criticism for as long as she could.
Cavallari has since commented saying that she is continuing to post normally in the midst of the crisis in order to keep her business afloat and keep her employees on the payroll. While she has respectable intentions, it probably would have benefited her business and employees to go about it a different way.
Plus, it doesn’t excuse the beach post. And her followers are clearly not going to let up on that one.
Yet in the midst of all this chaos, some have found the key to creating content in the COVID-19 era by listening to their audience and approaching with caution.
Influencer Valeria Lipovetsky has shown us just some of the ways you can continue to post during a global crisis. Boasting over 777,000 followers on Instagram and 1.42 million subscribers on YouTube, the content creator took the global change as a moment to slow down and reconsider what she would continue to show.
Instead of speaking about things she didn’t understand, she collaborated with professionals to help inform her audience. She focused on positive mental health and tips for how her viewers can get through the current situation in a healthy way.
While she has also received some criticism on her sponsored posts, she has definitely shown a step in the right direction. Her relatable family content has kept her in seemingly good standing with her followers, proving that some thoughtful strategizing can control the way your content is received.
This is not to say that all creators should have a background in digital marketing. That’s where we come in. We don’t actually want to be creating a list of influencer fails and watching the industry dissolve. All it takes is a couple clicks to contact ChatterBlast and inquire about our influencer program to prevent these headaches from affecting you and your followers.