Still a relatively new comms tool in the box, influencer marketing has been viewed as a necessary evil by some marketers. For every success story there seemed to be a ‘major fail’ flagged by the traditional media outlets. The authenticity of some has been questioned and tarnished the reputation of them all. But any comms professional worth their salt can recognise which influencers are worth partnering with, to deliver incredible results for the brands they represent.
As the coronavirus pandemic spread all facets of marketing were hit in some way, including influencer engagement. With effects being both negative and positive, how has COVID-19 impacted the rise of social media influencer marketing?
Influenced by the influencers
With a lot more time on our hands during lockdown, the constant flow of content across social media channels has been keeping a lot of us occupied over these months spent at home. With few other distractions, influencer content has arguably never been more powerful. The all-important engagement rates have skyrocketed and those who have been sharing content relevant to the global situation, the number of followers acting on the recommendations of the influencers in their feeds will have grown too.
I know over the past few weeks I have ordered (many) books based on recommendations from bloggers via Instagram and headed into my kitchen armed with a recipe or three saved from influencer posts. Many of us have turned to YouTubers for our new at-home fitness regimes or at-home DIY fixes and consumed hours of online video content.
Coronavirus’s impact on influencer content
Like the advertising industry, paid-for content via influencers came to a fast stand-still at the beginning of the pandemic. With a lack of experiences to create content from, they were having to be creative, change tack slightly or just open up and share an insight into their lockdown lives.
Travel bloggers, in particular, are still having to be creative with their content – re-editing from previous trips or sharing a different type of content altogether and using the opportunity to try out different platforms for their content. A personal favourite has been Hand Luggage Only in that sense. The hilarious TikTok videos have raised some much-needed chuckles throughout this pandemic! And the gorgeous wanderlust inducing photos and videos from trips in the past keep on coming…and making us add to our growing post-pandemic travel lists.
Working with influencers now and post-pandemic
The ‘lucky’ brands who timed their partnerships just ahead of lockdown have potentially benefitted from a better return on their investment than they may have forecast. And slowly but surely, we’ve started to notice some more branded (paid-for) content in the various feeds, so it seems that some marketers are seeing the opportunity of a hyper-engaged audience and taking advantage. If the brand and the tone is right, it’s a no brainer!
The first place we all look when planning an influencer-led campaign is at the numbers – how many followers do they have and how engaged are they (and are they our target market, of course). It is undeniable that audiences have been genuinely ‘engaging’ and being truly ‘influenced’.
So what does this mean for brands considering working with influencers?
We can argue that lock-down will have gone some way to ease influencer marketing scepticism. As lives get back to some sort of normality it’ll be some while before they get as busy as they were before on a social level and the habits we’ve built, new influencers we’ve followed, and those whose recommendations we’ve taken will become a more permanent fixture.
It is true that nailing the tone of any content during the pandemic and still now is crucial. The world has been rocked on a scale that no one has ever experienced so doing the due diligence and ensuring the influencers you collaborate with are spot on for your brand and the careful messaging you’ll be crafting.
Engaging and socialising digitally was a big fixture in our lives before it was enforced on a global scale so it is going nowhere and will only continue to grow. Maximising on this to increase your brand awareness or reach a certain target demographic should most certainly be in your comms plans.
For more information about successfully working with influencers, take a look at our free guide here.