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As the value of the social media influencer rises, so too will the scale of the financial and reputational risks. (Photo: Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM) As the value of the social media influencer rises, so too will the scale of the financial and reputational risks. (Photo: Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM)

Virtual interactions have become the norm during lockdown; more brands in more sectors are turning to social media for ways to connect with customers, and the power of influencers is going from strength to strength. From starting out as an effective marketing channel for the beauty, travel and leisure industries, social influencers have been widely embraced during the pandemic by organizations, including the World Health Organization that enlisted them to spread messages about social distancing and handwashing to younger generations.

While established influencers are helping to share news, advice and information related to COVID-19, new stars also are emerging, particularly in-home fitness and health education, with health-specific influencers having a considerable impact on public opinion and behavior. This activity is helping the social influencer market to balloon in size to a predicted $15 billion in 2022. But it also means more people who make their living using social media channels to target followers are becoming exposed to the same risks run by the traditional publishing and advertising sectors.

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