How *Some* Online Influencers Appear To Be Exploiting Their Followers During Pandemic

Disclaimer: All opinions are my own. No names will be specified. As always, topic open to debate in the comments down below.

It came as a shock to us all when pandemic hit the world by storm, forcing countries into lockdown, people needing to isolate from family and friends, all to protect lives from COVID-19. Before I continue, I have to give a huge applause to front-line and essential workers for their trojan efforts throughout this historic time. You’re real heros.

Understandably, many professions are forced to work from home, or to not work at all. Everyone is feeling the affects the pandemic has over us, mainly the fear of the unknown. Will COVID-19 get to my friends and family? What if I’m a carrier of the virus? What will become the new normal? How will I survive this? There are many more questions running through our minds right now, questions in which most of us have no clear answers for. We are all living in a new world, trying to fight a virus that is killing people and affecting millions of lives everyday.

Before I get started on the topic at hand, I will be whispering into the world of dark psychology, emotional manipulation and exploiting people who give trust. I am not qualified in any of these fields, they come as an interest to me and this blog post is coming from a personal view point. A viewpoint in which I realize many people are failing to identify within multiple industries. Allow me to explain where I’m coming from in this blog post.

I had recently gone online to my Instagram stories and went on a little rant. If you would like to catch up on that rant, you can log onto Instagram and watch it here.

I understand that what I’m about to discuss in this post happens all the time, in every industry. The biggest gripe I have with everything that is happening at the moment is timing. Pandemic. My opinion is mainly relevant to the current COVID-19 world we are living in and how people (online influencers) are taking advantage of the vulnerability of people at this time. I understand that everyone has a choice to do whatever the hell they want, and whatever way they want to spend their money they have every right to do that, but do they see the tactics that are being used? Keep reading.

I will be referring to the industry I am mainly involved in, that is the beauty industry. It was brought to my attention that many other industries have had similar tactics being used to manipulate and exploit followers and more examples are welcome in the comments down below. Lemme know if you’ve witnessed something shady, feel free to chat or let me know if you’d like me to research and discuss in another blog post in the future. Going on rants, calling out what I think is bullshit, might be my next true calling in life..

Online influencers. They influence you. How do they do that? They earn your trust. How do they earn your trust? They let you see into their lives, they make you feel like you are friends. Influencers use certain words in particular ways to make you believe in what they say or do. Influencers show vulnerability to make you feel like you are a part of their lives. Not all influencers are the same of course, some are great, some, not so great. I think “cancel culture” has brought to light many of the “not so great” influencers and essentially, “cancelled” them. But do you ever wonder why “cancelled” people still survive and thrive? Perhaps another interesting topic to dive into in a future post? In my opinion, cancel culture is toxic, however there are some positives. People are being called out on their bullshit, it’s being brought to light and actions being made aware of and addressed, whatever the cancel reasons may be, it is being spoke about in public spreading awareness of shitty behaviours of said “cancelled” influencers.

I was hit with confusion when I noticed some beauty influencers on the Irish market creating a new business plan. It made me stop and think as my initial reaction was that what they are doing is morally wrong. I had a good long over-night think about the whole situation, then spoke up about it in said rant linked above. Irish beauty influencers are now charging their followers for content in which they would have otherwise given for free on Instagram. Some may argue that this paid content is different, its more educational, it’s a “course”.. -Then what were they doing this whole time, for free? Holding back information just so they could charge you for it, saving it for a time there’s a pandemic so they can slyly convince you that their “courses” are of more value than any other content they’ve released online in the past? I’m not buying it.  And maybe its not just in Ireland this is happening, this new approach could be happening all over but I have not seen it yet.

Influencers are creating new private Instagram accounts with said exclusive content, but you can only get access to it if you send money to the influencer. First of all, it is more than likely against Instagram guidelines to pay to gain access to an account. Instagram is a free platform. There is no security in that, if you are thinking of paying into one of these Instagram accounts I would think twice about it as these accounts could get shut down extremely fast. And what you get on this private account is the same as what you can get already online for free, and probably already covered by said influencer. It’s unprofessional. There are other ways in which this could have worked, far better platforms are available with more security for the consumer. Just think about that for a little bit.

With the loss of work all over the world at the moment, and the trust that the influencers have gained in their followers, the influencers are emotionally manipulating people into feeling sorry for them and if you buy into their “courses” you’ll seriously be helping them out, in such unprecedented times. Beauty industry workers have lost a lot of work in fairness, I myself have taken a huge hit so I understand how it feels to be out of a job. But now really is not the time to be asking people for money. Seriously! I’m so gobsmacked by the entitlement and lack of integrity.
Influencers give you access into their lives by showing you their kids, family, homes, let you in on secrets, give you money-off their “favourite” products (which tend to change from week to week, jus sayin’), they essentially bring you into their life and it’s almost like a reality tv show that followers feel a part of. Now they are asking you for money, to be part of this new, exclusive private Instagram page, with a “course” in makeup or whatever, with hundreds of other people at the same time, and if you’re not in, you’ll feel left out because thats where all the craic is all of a sudden. Exclusion is a massive fear in social society and my gosh will this play on peoples vulnerability.

In response to my rant, I received a few messages from some beauty influencers who are creating these private accounts and the dark psychology in the language being used towards me was laughable. I’ve more respect for the people who ignored me and didn’t take it personally. My response to these messages were, not to take it personally (of course lol) and why not use my view point to their advantage? They obviously are so blindsided by something, that they are unable to see the wrong in what they are doing. Why not take my opinion and switch up their approach to these “courses” and make it.. less wrong? Do you think any of them would see my response as a constructive one as it was intended? I’m not sure, thats not for me to say but that was my intention.

And I’ll be the first to say, if it was any other time, non-pandemic, I would more than likely be saying “fair fucks to them for thinking of such a brilliant idea”… but nah, the fact that the pandemic is happening right now, and the idea came to fruition right now shows how twisted peoples minds really are.

Many skilled manipulative influencers will make you feel like you are special, they know how to do it. That is their specialty. That is why brands want to work with them. They bring them the money, its business! Beware of people who are “brand ambassadors” for many different brands. Look out for the clues. They know how to get at your money. They know how to make you want something so bad you’ll pay up just because they said so, so you feel included, part of their gang. Treat yourself to what they recommend, because they’ll get a small commission of the sale anyways.

My priority in all of this is the follower. The customer. The person who will pay into these things. The more vulnerable people who want to feel included during isolation. Be a smart consumer. Take a hard look at who you are following and look out for tactics of emotional manipulation and dark psychology.

There’s a lot more I would love to elaborate on in influencer tactics and manipulation. This post is only the beginning of touching on a deep dark world of online influencing. I’m aware that this post is lengthy at this stage and can touch again on more in a separate follow-up post/series. I wanted to get this much out before the topic got cold, and to hopefully help people see what is happening before they feel conned by these artists. I would love to know what you’d be interested in hearing me rant about next..

Thanks so much for reading, if you found it interesting, please share. The more people who read, the better a community we can create. Help followers see what tactics to look out for.
Find the good influencers who have your wellbeing a priority, and not your venerability an advantage to them.


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