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  • Writer's pictureTiffany Black

Are Influencers essential workers? Maybe.

Doctors. Nurses. Shopkeepers. Influencers? Yeah, doesn’t sound quite right to us either. In the last month, influencers have come under fire for travelling during lockdown. An interview with Sherridan Mordew has gone viral, after she was probed why she was indeed travelling to Dubai, riding camels and posting sponsored #content, in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, despite ‘stay at home’ restrictions running internationally and her justification was well… she considers herself an “essential worker” of course.

Before your eyes actually roll into non-existence into the back of your head, maybe she’s right? Stick with us here. We couldn’t resist finding out what the impact of this debacle would be on buyer behavior, brand perception and potentially even lead to a tangible shift in how the world thinks of influencers more long term. Welcome to this slightly bonkers, very 2021 debate.

Here’s what we discovered:

Influencers risk losing followers

Despite many influencers feeling that they’re providing a service, or source of inspiration to those stuck at home, the herds of people that are feeding their sourdough starter and having passive aggressive arguments with their housemates said that they:

  • Would unfollow an influencer travelling at the moment (57%), even if they were also inspired by them.

We can deduce therefore that even a follower who is a loyal fan of a certain influencer or type of content, their feelings will have categorically shifted if they see an influencer travelling during lockdown.

The absolute furore and twitter storm unleashed when Sherridan Mordew described her work as “essential” makes it unsurprising to see that:

  • 83% are convinced that influencer work is in fact the opposite.

It seems painstakingly obvious to explain this, but to equate influencer work, which although less glamorous certainly than it looks to the work of a qualified, trained doctor, working 18 hours shifts in the midst of a health crisis, for months on end…. Well, it’s just not going to sit well is it? A high very proportion of respondents, 71% of agreed that influencers shouldn’t be travelling at the moment.

Brands best be careful of sponsoring #illegal content

It’s a difficult time to be a brand, or a company selling any kind of product that can’t be used at home. Retail has plummeted with many opting to save what they would spend on a new outfit for Friday night on either homeware or putting it away in the bank in the face of job insecurity. It’s unsurprising therefore that some brands are attempting to do what they’ve always done, opt for glamorous travel content, hope for the best, aiming to inspire the masses into purchasing their product despite the current strange, unprecedented situation. Travelling for any work that is not essential, is, to all intents and purposes illegal. And it comes off as incredibly tone deaf. Read the room guys.

  • 81% of respondents believe brands shouldn’t support influencers that are abroad

Audience sentiment is clear: sponsoring an influencer abroad is total business suicide. When we delved deeper into this analysis, we found that people would in fact be put off a brand’s products if they did engage influencers abroad (63%). Using influencers in glamorous destinations to promote sponsored content, is essentially the equivalent of burning money, in a snow storm, giving a temporary, but ultimately, short sighted glow. That old adage, ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’, might not apply in these unprecedented times.

Brands should take the opportunity to think creatively, engage with their audiences on a more intimate, sophisticated level. It’s one of the first times in human history that (unless you’re a key worker of course) there’s universally so much time, and so little to do. Companies have a bored audience, one that is waiting to be inspired, they just need to figure out how to engage them. Or save yourselves the heartache and hire ThisThat, so you don’t have to keep guessing.

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