Leading social media influencer Makaia Carr is calling out those who accept freebies during the country's difficult economic period and encouraging them to "support local".

With more than 100,000 social media followers, her message is simple - go back to sharing moments and not selling moments.

"Social Influencers, for a very long time, have had so many perks and freebies and it just feels like it's never been a better time to think more about how we do things and look at ways to give back," she tells Spy.

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"Start paying for products, not asking or accepting freebies, buy it, love it, post about it, help the economy get back on its feet and truly #shoplocal and #supportlocal.

"I think people have been calling for change in this space for a long time, often this space needs a bit of a shake-up.

"I was disappointed to see social Influencers or people with profile and platform, not being or showing sensitivity to this, not expressing they were socially aware, not acknowledging the current situation of our country, our people, their followers."

On her own page this week, she has used hashtags like #readtheroom and #bethechange in the hope that the influencer community understands the mood of consumers.

Carr, who is also a motivational speaker, says her movement kicked off in the early stages of lockdown.

She was very aware of changes in society, with people losing jobs, having incomes reduced and families not being able to see each other or others working in frontline environments.

Through her audience over the past two weeks, Carr has helped 30 families with food deliveries and grocery drop-offs over New Zealand, filled a freezer at a school in Tauranga and donated more than 300 "Safe Nights" for the Women's Refuge.

It's a contrast to some in the industry, who she has noted continue with their "marketing content".


"As if it was the right place and time to keep opening PR packages of gifted luxury items (during lockdown when only essential services should have been couriered). Tagging in brands and sharing discount codes to shop non-essential items during level 4 lockdown and not disclosing their #gifted or #sponsored posts to their audience, knowing full well it was probably in poor taste at that time."

She realises there is only so much she can do to influence the influencers.

"All I can do is keep trying to #bethechange myself. I'll continue giving them a wee nudge here and there and focus on how I can use my social media platform to give back, help others and influence with a conscience.

"It has been encouraging getting messages from eight influencers showing full support, a couple who had points to challenge, one who said thanks for the reminder and made edits and adjustments and four execs in different PR agencies reached out to express support and encouragement."

Carr has also educated the "innocent" non-influencers who are often unaware that they are the target of marketers. She says the most powerful thing you can do to protect your own mental health is to unfollow accounts that are making you angry, upset, down or inadequate.

"Clear your timeline of that content and focus on the images and videos you want to see, or make you feel good, more friends and family content is always good for the soul."


She also encourages the public to ask influencers to clarify if their post is an advertisement, if the product is gifted or if they are on a commission for the brand. If you feel the issue is serious enough to warrant it, you can complain to the Advertising Standards Authority.

Carr was Spy's 2018 Influencer of the Year, and she seems to have always kept her influencing open and real. That year she released a book called Keeping it Real, in which she shared her struggles and the strategies that help her to maintain a positive body image and outlook.

She admits she hasn't always been perfect on social media.

"I know I haven't been a model social influencer in the past, I'm not claiming to be perfect, or to know everything and people can call me out on a bunch of stuff I'm sure, but it's never too late to make change and become more aware, right?"

"I have been doing this for a long time [eight years] and I know how privileged and entitled this space can become, it's easy to get sucked up into it."