The spread of the coronavirus has completely changed the game, so is there still a place for influencer marketing?
2020 was already set to be a year of great change for marketing, with a rise in video content, Stories, TikTok and, of course, influencer marketing.
In the past three years, the search term ‘influencer marketing’ has seen a 1500% increase. More and more brands have been using the reach of online stars to make people aware of their products and services.
However, with the worldwide spread of the coronavirus dominating every conversation and headline, things have certainly taken an unexpected turn. The rise of COVID-19 has disrupted everything from healthcare to travel, and marketing is certainly no exception.
So, in such tumultuous times, we need to ask ourselves: is there still a place for influencer marketing?
How is the coronavirus impacting influencer marketing?
Platforms like Instagram and TikTok rely on human-to-human content – it’s a big part of their success. And there has never been a more important time for connecting, even if it is just in a digital sense.
In some ways, isolation culture has been a good thing for influencers. These social media celebrities aren’t going to stop making content as they still have an actively engaged – and very captive – audience. The biggest change to their strategies is going to be in the messaging.
Sales-driven content isn’t going to pack the same punch at a time where most people are anxious, isolated and unable to go anywhere. Instead, social media users are going to be looking for genuine, community-driven content to connect with.
Finding the right tone
For marketers, this means being smart about how you make use of influencer marketing. The key thing here is sensitivity and mindfulness. Asking an influencer to post a link to a £500 dress when half the country is scared they might lose their jobs is not the way to go. Find an angle that feels genuine, with a focus on wellness and community.
Tailor content to the current situation. A few weeks ago, a ‘mummy blogger’ would likely be posting about places to go and things to do. Now, this can be replaced with home-schooling suggestions and at-home activities.
Content about ways to organise your home, work from home, master online shopping or cook creatively with few ingredients are all in high demand right now.
If you’re trying to sell product through influencers, think about how your product could genuinely help people during this time. Could it make a household task easier? Lower anxiety levels? Provide some much-needed light relief?
Innovation is key
COVID-19 has reminded us all that things can change in a moment. It’s vital, as a business, to take things one day at a time and be nimble and innovative. The companies that practice innovation during this time will be the ones to stand out from the crowd.
There’s no doubt that the market will be permanently changed by this monumental time. There is sure to be a trickle-down effect, but the good news is that innovation comes from necessity. It may be that the smaller micro- and macro-influencers who are doing truly creative things right now will be the ones to benefit the most in the long run, as 61% of consumers already say that smaller influencers produce the most relatable content.
The bottom line
Unlike retailers and other sellers, influencers still have access to their audience. In fact, audiences could well be more engaged than ever during isolation. The key change comes in the messages influencers are putting across. Viewers want to see humanity and vulnerability during this time, and the ultra-sleek, look-at-me content people tend to associate with influencers isn’t going to connect positively with people struggling.
For marketers, this means thinking carefully about how you advertise your products and services. Be genuine, be honest and be smart about the tone you use and the tack you take.