The unexpected arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected various industries across the globe. In the marketing world, the ongoing health crisis has prompted most companies to re-evaluate and tweak their marketing strategies on different platforms. Influencer marketing has also experienced significant impacts from the pandemic. According to a report on Kantar, social media usage has grown over 61 percent since the start of lockdowns—and rightly so.
During these challenging times, many people are placing their trust on influencers for reliable information and escapism from what’s happening around them. As such, it’s a good time to consider whether you would like to delve into influencer marketing and how the pandemic has changed the practice.
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing, for the most part, is largely a phenomenon of social media. There’s no question about it. Although there are some who compare it with traditional celebrity endorsements, there is a broad net of differences that should always be noted. You can check out our blog, What is Influencer Marketing? to learn more about influencer marketing and how it works for companies.
Most influencers are creators on social media who are tied to a niche market with a loyal customer base. Generally, they are not celebrities, at least not in the traditional sense. Through a large following, branding and expertise in a specific niche, influencers can encourage their followers to make purchasing decisions for a brand’s products or services. According to eMarketer, “influencers can also provide brands with quick, less-expensive and easy-to-produce creative at a time when large-scale ad production may be difficult.”
How has COVID-19 impacted influencer marketing?
COVID-19 has shaken countless marketing channels—and influencer marketing is no different. Later reports that “20% of influencers have had 100% of their campaigns paused or put on hold until further notice.” To better reach and engage their audiences, influencers have morphed their content, tone, and messaging to reflect the mindset of their followers. These changes include:
- Creating an empathetic tone within their content. The increase of social media usage is an engagement and branding opportunity for influencers and companies. However, it’s also highly crucial for influencers to hit the right tone in their posts, whether it’s through their visuals or captions. Influencers must take into consideration the current hardships that many people find themselves in. For example, numerous people are facing financial struggles so it may not be wise for influencers to promote an expensive product or service in their posts. Instead, many influencers are leaning towards creating trust and hope through their posts so that consumers can find stability.
- Offering solutions or advice. For many influencers, the best way to empathize with their audience is to share their own advice on their situations. This may include how they’ve coped with remote working, prevented health risks while outside, or tips on self-care or activities to do at home. Influencers can also share how they’ve made a difference in their communities (such as donating to COVID-19 related charities) in an authentic way.
- Providing their audience with reliable information. The current pandemic has also brought an onslaught of misinformation and confusion from unreliable sources. Now more than ever, influencers are responsible for the type of information they share on their social media, especially regarding the coronavirus. Companies and influencers alike need to align their brands with facts from reputable sources such as the CDC and the WHO. This not only helps build trust between influencers and consumers, but prevents health risks since these messages are based on actual facts.
- Focusing their spend on essential items and self-care. Like influencer marketing, ecommerce has faced significant changes during the pandemic. As reported by Stackline, ecommerce spending on household items like cleaning products, medicine, and other essential items have increased, especially during the lockdowns earlier this year. As such, influencers in travel-related niche markets will need to look for opportunities in other markets such as food, self-care, household products, or even at-home fitness content. These niche markets must fit with their personal brand and create value to audiences.
- Incorporating more video content. Video is booming with popularity. Around 87& of US consumers have reported that they’ve consumed more content with videos. Recently, Instagram introduced its latest video creation feature, Instagram Reels to compete with rival social media competitor, TikTok. The increase of online video consumption provides various opportunities for influencers and brands. Influencers are blending their posts with videos as it continues to be the new norm for consumers. Some video content may revolve around the coronavirus that updates viewers or provides entertainment to help alleviate stress.
Is influencer marketing right for your brand during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Depending on your objectives, influencer marketing may be the right strategy for your brand. However, it may also be difficult to make that decision during the pandemic. In the end, you and your team must define what the goals are for your influencer marketing strategy. What problems does your proposed strategy try to solve? Will influencers bring value to your specific target audience? Most importantly, you must consider what information your chosen influencers will provide during the current landscape.
Doing this will prevent messages that can be interpreted as insensitive or irrelevant. When you and your team members have reached a decision, you can start to plan out the right course of action for your company.
How do you execute an effective influencer marketing strategy during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- Choose the right influencers. Make sure that you’re partnering with influencers that align themselves with your brand, its mission, and values. Influencer marketing must meet your budgetary needs while effectively reaching your target audience on the appropriate platforms.
- Use the right marketing tools. There are countless influencers on social media for different niches. You can ensure you are receiving the best engagement and results for your efforts by using influencer marketing tools. Through these tools, you can review and analyze your audience engagement, follower count, audience geography, and more.
- Collaborate with your chosen influencer. The best way to create impactful influencer marketing campaigns is to collaborate with the influencer. This helps you and the influencer stay on the same page in creating a compelling message that engages your target audience.
- Make sure you measure the impact. You won’t know how successful your influencer marketing campaign is unless you consistently measure the results. Spend some time developing a strategy that establishes clear goals and follows the buyer’s journey. This is especially important during the pandemic.
Influencer marketing can play a huge role in your marketing efforts, but in context with the pandemic, you must first consider your overall goals. That way you can evaluate whether influencer marketing aligns with your company’s needs. Remember to make sure your marketing campaigns have accurate information so that you can benefit from building credibility with your audience. As newer developments continue with the current pandemic, we recommend evolving your work to meet your customer’s needs.