Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been no shortage of people wanting to lend a hand.
Many of these incredible helpers are the ones you would expect to see in a crisis -- the tireless first responders like EMT workers, ambulance drivers, police and fire rescue, the fearless nurses and doctors working exhausting hours under almost unimaginable stress. Where we would be without these heroes is hard to imagine.
But look elsewhere and you will see others you might not normally expect -- the grocery store employees, the delivery person bringing items to those stuck at home, or the bus drivers and subway operators transporting our essential workers. But alongside these somewhat atypical helpers, I will add another: influencers.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has created all sorts of needs around the world, and the response and contributions from influencers has been overwhelming.
Tens of thousands of influencers from practically every nation have used their platforms and voice to raise awareness, lift spirits, and give back to those who need it the most. The following are just a few examples of the inspiring ways that influencers have stepped up during this ongoing crisis.
One of the biggest challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic has been quickly educating the public about how the virus spreads, and how to best guard against it. Dr. Deborah Birx, who serves as the Response Coordinator for the Trump Administration's White House Coronavirus Task Force, has said that millennials are the core group that will stop the coronavirus pandemic. To that end, the widespread dissemination of information around social distancing, thorough hand washing, and basic facts about the virus, having been critical to halting its spread.
Influencers have been critical in that mission, spreading hashtags (such as #stayhome) and content to reach and educate millions of people. There is no question that this work has helped to keep people safe and save lives.
The most celebrated and noteworthy entertainment event of the pandemic (so far) came from a Los Angeles DJ named D-Nice. D-Nice's “Club Quarantine” as he called it, was a virtual dance party on Instagram Live that essentially went viral, attracting an audience over 100k, which included a who's who list of celebrities including Michelle Obama, Oprah, Snoop Dogg, and hundreds more.
This event put a spotlight on influencers’ ability to showcase their unique talents across social platforms and how people can unite around shared interests during tough times.
And while music has certainly been in the spotlight with other DJs, bands and performers following D-Nice's lead, influencers have provided so much more from an entertainment perspective, including an array of how-to videos, recipes and cooking content, exercise and yoga tutorials, and so much more.
Influencers have also helped in more tangible ways, using their platforms and loyal audiences to raise money for local businesses, hospitals and frontline workers, the homeless, and families in need, among other beneficiaries.
One effort, #HopeFromHome, was particularly notable. Started by Irish actor and YouTube personality Sean William McLoughlin (better known as “Jacksepticeye”), the #HopeFromHome live stream brought together entertainers, influencers, gamers and other creators across platforms including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok to benefit three global charities (United Way Worldwide; the United Nations Foundation's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization; and Comic Relief US's Red Nose Day). The multiplatform digital fundraiser hauled in more than $1.7 million.
Back in July of last year, long before the world's COVID-19 nightmare began, The New York Times proclaimed via headline "Don't Scoff at Influencers. They are Taking Over the World."
And it's true. From politics to food, gaming to fashion, pets to parents, there is virtually no corner of the world where influencers are not emerging as a powerful force, and a bridge between brand and consumer. But these influencers are so much more than that.
COVID-19 has revealed that Influencers can be a massive force for good, and even change, in the world.
During this particularly dark period of time, with so much loss and pain felt all around the world, it brings me so much hope for the future to see these legions of influencers stepping up, using their platforms, and raising their voices to help those who need a hand.