The modern world has a weird relationship with influencers. Some people love ‘em. Some hate ‘em. Others love to hate them (or hate that they love them). Whichever group you think you’re a part of, there’s little denying that influencers are here to stay in some shape or form for good. But they don’t lead the ‘perfect’ lives they want you to think they do. In fact, seeing how they act in their natural environment might just break every single illusion you ever had about them. That’s where the immensely popular ‘Influencers in the Wild’ Instagram account comes in.
The 3.5-million-follower-strong account is dedicated to collecting the quirky, goofy, and embarrassing side of influencers. Scroll down to see just how ridiculous these ‘perfect’ influencers can be, and upvote your fave pics and videos. You can find Bored Panda’s earlier post about ‘Influencers in the Wild’ right here.
Bored Panda wanted to learn more about the recent changes in the influencer industry, so we reached out to Brooke Erin Duffy, an associate professor at Cornell University who studies the intersection of media, culture, and technology. Read on for her insights!
Duffy from Cornell University said that the coronavirus pandemic has sparked two interrelated responses in the influencer industry, neither of which is entirely new.
“The first involves ringing the death knell on influencers because of brands' dwindling advertising budgets; the second stems from the belief that aspirational imagery and markers of privilege are less and less relevant in a moment of widespread social and economic upheaval,” she explained.
“The latter response, crucially, seems to be especially gendered. Indeed, while women influencers have long faced backlash for being what audiences deem inauthentic, excessively self-promotional, or ‘fake,’ the critical blowback seems to have intensified in the wake of the pandemic.”
According to Duffy, most of the influencers she’s interviewed believe that their careers are “profoundly unstable as they are at the whims of audiences, advertisers, and crucially, platforms' algorithms.”
The pandemic has exacerbated these issues and has caused some influencers to branch out and develop “different vestiges of their brand persona, most especially on TikTok.”
Duffy added that wider popular culture appears to be centered around influencers’ claims to authenticity or realness. “Photo manipulation has a long history in the media and advertising industries, but the critiques of influencers' alleged photoshopping is deeply individual and hence personal,” she said.
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The ‘Influencers in the Wild’ social media project was started on January 10, 2020. By the end of the month, it had already grown to 695k followers. Now, there’s over 3.5 million of them and the community just keeps on growing. Its success could be attributed to the fact that it posts honest, unfiltered content and asks its community to actively participate in what gets shown.
Forbes explains that influencer marketing is very powerful because it lets brands promote themselves directly to the target audience in a post-TV world where social media is more and more widely used. Marketing products through influencers is a question of trust and getting potential consumers to believe the illusion that social media stars actually like the product they’re advertising.
Pole. Glass High Heels. Low Tide. Garbage Truck. Yep, This Is A Perfect Video
However, the influencer industry has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, forcing them to adapt. Economic difficulties mean that some brands have less money to advertise through influencers. Meanwhile, events continue to be canceled and travel isn’t as easy as it used to be. Travel and fashion influencers aren’t doing so well anymore.
However, other influencers saw a surge in attention during the pandemic. Categories like at-home fitness, gardening (or rather plantfluencing), and cooking took off as people are spending more time at home and are concerned about their health. Also, more social media stars are foregoing support from brands and marketing their own services. Now those are the kinds of influencers we can get behind. But it’d still be fun to see how they act in the wild, too!