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Saving Grace: The Influencers Pushing Us Through This Pandemic

Granted, a pandemic might not seem like the most likely time for people to be thinking about influencers, but arguably – especially from a brand perspective – this might be a more relevant window of influencer opportunity than ever before.

@adwoaaboah

Everyone is at home, scrolling through their phones day in, day out. Some influencers will bring us the humour needed to get through our days, others will bring purpose through activism and community. Many influencers will be offering simple entertainment, invaluable lessons, surplus content and countless insights into how we can all spruce up our lives in isolation. If brands have cash, there is literally no time like the present for marketers to be authentically buddying-up with influencers – from all walks of online life.

This might be the first time that you’re even considered influencer marketing – and to many, that can still be a scary prospect. The word ‘influencer’ is increasingly seen as an expletive; many people roll their eyes whilst saying it, some people even utter it in hushed tones. Content creators themselves tend to avoid calling themselves ‘influencers’, opting for monikers like ‘digital disruptor’ or ‘social creative’. The truth is, the word ‘influencer’ was always meant to be an industry term, used by marketers as a catch-all for those individuals advertising online. However, because of the (mostly sarcastic) way it’s been used in the media, the term has stuck – along with a negative stereotype that paints all ‘influencers’ with the same blackened brush.

According to most mainstream media outlets, all influencers sell plastic surgery, teeth whitening products and appetite supressing lollipops for a quick buck. As an influencer marketing expert, I can categorically tell you that that is not the case – 80% of influencers are authentically trying to make the world a better place, and 20% or them are Kardashian wannabes. The media we consume is now almost entirely digital, and mainly consumed on mobile devices; in fact, 2019 was the first year ever that consumers spent more time using their mobile devices than watching TV (linear or On Demand). In the last five years or so, that positive 80% of Influencers have changed the way we consume media, adding content that allows moulds to change, activating revolutionary opinions amongst the masses. Arguably, I wouldn’t even call the 20% ‘influencers’ – they’re more like copycats than leaders. As with most things in this world, the rotten segment of a sector tends to set the tone for the rest, so how did we get here as an industry, and is the negative reputation that follows ‘influencers’ around deserved? This article aims to put your mind at ease, by highlighting the good eggs and hopefully demonstrating why influencer marketing is not only the most authentic, but can also be the most effective form of marketing.

We might be biased, but we’re also experts, and influencers really are using their following for good. There are a lot of businesses supporting influencers within their positive movements – including some of our own clients, Bumble, Save The Children and Very. One example of a platform making the most of this philanthropic movement is Kindred.co, who now enable influencers they work with to give a percentage of their sale to a charity of their choice. There’s no reason why brands can’t copy this model, working with influencers to generate donations for their chosen charity. In fact, Venetia Falconer (an influencer we’ve worked with in the past) recently collaborated with Fenton&Co (a previous client), to create a social media competition/giveaway, where the prize is a charitable donation to your chosen charity, on your behalf.

Venetia is one of many influencers who authentically use their voice for good. There is an abundance of these truly good influencers out there, but often they’re fighting against discriminatory algorithms. So, to save you the hassle of a good-egg influencer hunt, we’ve collated five examples of Influencers doing a whole lot of GOOD, that you can collaborate with during or after the Covid-19 crisis

1) Who They Are: Henry J Garrett, @henryjgarrett

Their Community: 145K

Their Work: Previously, Henry’s handle was @drawingsfordogs. He launched his mini movement of positivity by drawing pictures of his dog, Billie, with speech bubbles commenting on the issues that exist in our society. He has since garnered a huge following, a penguin book deal, and worked with a whole host of charities and brands.

2) Who They Are: Charlie Craggs, @charlie_craggs

Their Community: 18.7K

Their Work: Charlie is an incredible transgender activist, who set up a genius initiative called ‘Nail Transphobia’. Charlie found out that the majority of transphobic people have never met a trans person, and in her experience, as soon as do meet someone who is trans, their hateful opinions become positive. So, with Nail Transphobia, Charlie and her trans nail technicians paint people’s nails for free, in an effort to gently introduce the trans community to the world. One of her clients was Richard Branson.

3) Who They Are: Elyse Fox, @elyse.fox

Their Community: 31.9K (@sadgirlsclub has 282K)

Their Work: After a devastating bout of depression, filmmaker Elyse set up Sad Girls Club, a mental health collective focused on giving space to and uplifting women of colour. She was worked with huge global brands, including Nike.

4) Who They Are: Ella Grace Denton, @ellagracedenton

Their Community: 186K

Their Work: Ella has always been about pushing the boundaries of existence and celebrating community – even back in 2011, when she posted her first YouTube video. As host of the ReWilding podcast, Ella has talked about everything from body positivity, queer empowerment, astrology, the power of going offline in an online world, and why sisterhood is the way forward. Ella is also the co-founder of a growing sustainable living initiative, called Stories Behind Things, that aims to simplify, excite and empower individuals to live consciously. Look out for an episode of Verified Views we recorded with Ella for Season 2!

5) Who They Are: Amika George, @amika

Their Community: 5.2K (@freeperiods has 16.3K)

Their Work: Who said influencers need to have a huge following? Micro influencer Amika George started the #FreePeriods campaign on Instagram, after seeing a news report about how young girls in the UK couldn’t afford sanitary care. The movement grew, garnered media and celebrity attention, and after an incredibly successful protest they recently changed the law to allow girls in the UK free sanitary care in schools.

Whilst this continued movement of influencers working towards greater goodness might start with individuals, the work filters through online communities, eventually changing society as a whole. You only have to good the F-word to realise the internet is almost wholly responsible for 3rd wave feminism. It is vital that brands, platforms, banks, and leading tech companies become actively involved, investing in the betterment of our world – instead of hollow hits from “influencers” selling the wrong things, for the wrong reasons. By brands and companies investing in the right influencers, we increase the exposure of good people and good messages that are part of a wider, collective movement for good. Good, good and more good. That’s what will heal the world after such a catastrophic upheaval in our lives. Positive change begins with each one of us – pandemic, or no pandemic. By following the above influencers’ example, we can make ourselves the centre of a group effort to spread compassion, altruism, kindness, and gratitude via social media.