How Instagram Moved from a Marketplace to a Social Space

How Instagram Moved from a Marketplace to a Social Space

influencer marketing during covid 19

With the daily changes brought about by the global Covid-19 crisis, our attention is focussing in on how Instagram moved from a marketplace to a social space. Could this be the end of the influencer marketing? BA Fashion Communication student, Alice Morey investigates… 


Is this the end of Influencer Marketing?          


Changes to the norm of everyday routines are evident all around us and our shopping spheres are no different. With online retailers suspending services and affiliate influencer marketing schemes on pause, Instagram takes the cue to become a social hub for all generations to unite and enjoy together.  


Net-A-Porter and Mr Porter temporary closure


Online shopping is one of the few attachments to normality, but even this has been touched by the coronavirus with Net-A-Porter and Mr Porter temporarily closing down their online shopping pages on the 25th March, with customers meeting an on-screen message…

“In line with local government guidelines, and for the health and safety of our community, we have temporarily closed our warehouse. We hope you are all staying safe and look forward to welcoming you back soon.”

An unprecedented step that many other businesses took as they waited with bated breath for a government bail out. Since this first announcement it has been replaced with a statement announcing “Good news! We can take your order again. You can continue to enjoy shopping with us, but your order will take a little longer to get to you”, showing that although shopping is back on the agenda there will be disruption to the slick and speedy delivery options associated with Net-A-Porter. 

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the end of influencer marketing
Image via Vogue.co.uk

A pause on influencer marketing schemes


Business of Fashion (BoF) made the announcement on the 26th of March that large American Beauty and Fashion retailers were cutting their affiliate and influencer schemes. These companies included: Macy’s, Ulta, Dillard’s and TJ Maxx – who have all had to put a pause on their influencer marketing schemes to save money.

The result – a cease in influencer and media companies gaining sales commissions by posting sponsored product links across their own individual social channels. This a decision which comes at a time when retailers are under an increased level of scrutiny to save funds in order to support the jobs and wages of their workers.

This decision is not one that has an isolated negative effect on the retailer but has a ripple effect onto the influencers who depend on these schemes as their main source of income and their wider teams made up of or assistants, managers, photographers and ghost writers who are all supported by these partnership deals – as well as influencer partnership deals being an intrinsic revenue stream for brands. Consequently, this calls into question the relevance of the influencer and the re-defining of our social marketplaces. 


end of influencer marketing
Photo by Style Tomes on Unsplash

The impact on the influencer


Monica De La Villardiere (presenter on the podcast Fashion: No Filter) wrote an open letter for British Vogue on the 27th of March discussing the impact these decisions have had on her own social media accounts. In the piece she notes how she considered deleting her Instagram account amidst the global crisis. Monica notes of the challenge and personal inner conflict of “how might one justify scenes of ostensible enjoyment placed within a square and brightened with a filter when so many others have been chased back into lonely studios and basement flats with no end in sight?” A thought shared by many at a time that has been attached to a new term ‘smugsolation’ defined by Glamour as…

“the act of quarantining oneself during a global crisis in an enviable location (penthouse, townhouse, mansion, villa, 15-bedroom ancestral country seat) with expensive foods, booze and/or adorable pets and outdoor space and proceeding to broadcast said situation on social media (see also: tone deaf)”.

This undefined territory conjures a dilemma of whether to continue with schemes attached to the Instagram way of life, or whether new responsible human-centric content is preferable?

end of influencer marketing
Photo by Minh Pham on Unsplash

A move from marketplace to social space for Instagram


With a stripping away of the usually saturated newsfeed of #Ad on Instagram, instead Instagram has emerged as an un-expected social space. Previously a space for scrolling and liking, meaningful engagement and content has transformed the picture-based social media platform. Providing a window into the lives of the ordinary and celebrity alike.

In a weird way, isolation has normalised. From our 9am live wake-up call for P.E with Joe Wicks (not just for kids) and the plights of home schooling, to the rainbow NHS support artwork, and Tik Tok creation alongside a full line-up of actives to build a new daily routine around.

Away from business deals, we are seeing the person behind the glossy façade of an influencer (#showmeyourroots and all). A global survey of 13,000 consumers across 13 different countries conducted between the 16th and 20th of March by Global Web Index (GWI) found that 95% of consumers are spending more time on in-home media consumption and a further 45% of people are spending more average time across their social media platforms.

With a growing and ever increasingly engaged audience it is a time for genuine and positive content, which has a prerogative to help people get through isolation, a time of grief and economic uncertainty together and not just sell an idealised version of how ‘isolation should look’. 

By Alice Morey, BA (Hons) Fashion Communication 

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