JOLIET, Illinois — Influencers have the ability to create a positive influence on their followers. WGSN identified content creators increasingly focused on teaching lessons over obtaining likes as influencers. They spread truths, ideas and honest advice on specific topics. This includes global poverty, which affects one billion children of the approximately 2.2 billion in the world. The use of social media has allowed users to consume free and informative online content. In 2020, the trend of using Instagram infographics emerged to discuss social issues. This has spread more awareness and education on complex and serious issues in bite-sized content.
Influencers spread information on different topics by using creativity, a phone and access to the internet. The influencer economy emerged in 2010 when digital-savvy individualized learned how to capitalize on their online presence. In 2020, a shift in content creation exploded in the midst of social issues and increased time online. Anyone can be a creator or user. Solidarity and coalition-building for social movements have also been strengthened through social media. Global poverty can and is addressed through influencer culture. Employees in social movements, volunteers in grassroots organizations and individual influencers can post content around global poverty to create change.
Remake, a nonprofit aiming to make fashion a force for good, encourages over 400 ambassadors to use social media to fight for garment workers’ rights. Fast fashion garment workers are subject to extreme poverty when they are not paid a living wage. Remake ambassadors used their micro influencing power to unlock $22 billion for garment workers. According to Worker Rights Consortium, in March 2020, global brands refused to pay for an estimated $40 billion worth of goods already produced by their garment workers. Sustainable fashion content creator, Gaia, explained that garment workers could not afford to endure wage losses in her content. They already struggle to get by with their current wage rates, which traps them in vicious cycles of poverty. Therefore, the use of social media has fueled Remake’s movement and has helped address global poverty in the process.
Users feel more connected to information on global poverty when it comes directly from someone they trust. Influencer culture is, therefore, individuals having the power to influence their online followers’ thoughts and feelings based on connection. Influencers advocating against global poverty help end misconceptions around the topic in this manner. More than two-thirds of Americans think global poverty has been rising, unaware that global poverty has actually decreased worldwide. Influencers thus open up dialogue and advocacy on a localized level.
The pandemic pushed millions online because of lockdown safety measures. It increased the creation of content on social media platforms and shifted conversations towards activism. Influencer culture helps end global poverty by addressing its social, economic, political and environmental factors online. The hashtag #globalpoverty has been used almost four thousand times. This helps to expand an older movement and push for social change. This digital activism, also known as clicktivism, helps non-mainstream and little-known ideas to enter the public in the midst of physical restrictions.
TikTok, an app that allows users to make and watch short videos, has exploded during COVID-19. In September 2020, TikTok hit 53.5 million weekly users in the U.S., about one in six Americans. It has pushed influencers to go beyond curating perfect visuals and creative captions. Instead, TikTok encourages us to learn and interact together. For example, the Borgen Project and other humanitarian organizations have led content on global poverty through this platform. These TikTok videos teach users how to email congress, explain why fighting global poverty is important and highlight which laws should be endorsed to end global poverty. The platform has helped spread a united message while inviting million to engage and make similar videos for their own audience.
Influencer culture helps end global poverty by spreading information online about the topic. It helps propel a movement forward through increasingly digital-savvy consumers with more time on their hands. One post can teach the world that a Starbucks Frappuccino costs more than the median income for someone in a developing country. This helps advance progress for the world’s poor amid a booming influencer culture.
– Giselle Magana