– The difficult coexistence of influencers and the war in the networks
In the face of the omnipresence of the Ukrainian conflict on social media, influencers sometimes struggle to find their place. Between taking positions and “business as usual”, the two Geneva stars, Elvira and Charles Legrand, trust their business.
Two weeks have passed since the war broke out in Ukraine. Two weeks ago, influencers don’t always know which foot to dance with. On social networks, images, analysis, positions and other more or less serious publications related to the conflict are the headlines: 7.21 million views for the mention #russiaukraine on Instagram. Next to it, promotional posts from online sellers sometimes seem clunky or even out of place.
The famous French youtuber Tibo InShape -8.5 million subscribers- caused a stir a few days after the start of the conflict by publishing a video in which he commented on the physical preparation of the Russian president in these terms: “I respect Mr. Vladimir Poutine for your training But on the other hand, what we would like above all else, Mr Vladimir Putin, is peace. And for you who watch my YouTube video and want to lose weight or gain mass, everything happens in my ShapeYou sports app. A video immediately posted, immediately withdrawn -with a word of apology in passing- before the wave of indignation raised on the networks.
Elvira and Charles Legrand, lifestyle influencer couple from Geneva – 781,000 followers among themselves – did not follow up on the unfortunate affair. However, the subject worries and interests them. For “Bilan”, they get involved in the place of their profession, in an extremely delicate context.
While social networks echoed the first attacks, what did you post on Instagram?
Elvira: The night of the attack we participated in a sponsored event. When we woke up the next day, we found out on the networks what was happening in Ukraine. Immediately, we decided to postpone the publications related to the evening. Then I posted all day about Ukraine. I condemned President Putin’s policy and explained myself to my community. Especially since I have very close friends in the country and I am of Russian origin. That day, I lost around 1000 subscribers.
“After the first attacks, most of the ‘fashion’ influencers had a date at Paris Fashion Week.”
Elvira Legrand, influencer from Geneva
A position you held one day before returning to your day-to-day life as an influencer?
Elvira: You should know that a few days after the first attacks, most of the “fashion” influencers had an appointment at Paris Fashion Week, the event started on February 28. It’s a bit of a must in between. There, inevitably, there was a bit of embarrassment and this feeling of not really knowing where your place is. It is difficult to communicate in the world of luxury when the networks transmit a war. For Charles and me it was easier, since we were there privately and we did not have a contract with any brand; since then, they published about his visit to Paris. Quite the opposite of some colleagues who were obliged to communicate about the event.
You have mastered the art of network communication. In your opinion, what is the best position to occupy in these circumstances?
Charlie: Social networks and Instagram have become privileged places to defend causes, position themselves, denounce. And, at the same time, the platform remains the realm of consumption and entertainment. I think the worst thing would be to improvise what we are not, and embark on a geopolitical analysis that we do not control. With Elvira, we made a call to our communities to ask them to share interesting initiatives to help Ukrainians and we communicated them in stories.
“When we announce something, we go to the equivalent of a stadium. I imagine that comes with certain responsibilities.
Charles Legrand, Geneva influencer
We have the impression that influencers have become public figures who must, de facto, take a stand. Are we asking too much of them?
Charlie: Sometimes we forget, but as far as we’re concerned, the smallest of our posts is seen by over 40,000 people. When we announce something, we are addressing the equivalent of a stadium. I guess it comes with certain responsibilities. But you have to be careful. In the past, I stood up. At the time of the Covid crisis, I rushed in and encouraged people to stock up. I made a mistake and then they blamed me for it. At that time, I lost 9,000 subscribers. Now I have to be more careful. Without forgetting that our function is also to entertain. So I have not deviated too much from my daily line on the networks despite the war and my community also appreciates it.
So, did you continue to create promotional and sponsored content for the last two weeks?
Elvira: We discuss it with the brands that collaborate with us. Some ask to postpone the campaigns so they can have more impact. But in general, the activity does not weaken. We have just received five new partnership proposals in two days. I broadcast a lot of Ukrainian news at first, but have since given way to more informed and more specialized accounts.
Frederic Thomasset He is deputy editor of Bilan magazine and responsible for Bilan.ch. Professor at the CFJM specializing in long forms and digital formats, Frédéric is a graduate of the Grenoble Institute of Political Studies and has a master’s degree from UNIGE in economics and social sciences.
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