Influencers in a pandemic. Sounds like a one hit wonder from an obscure 80s band right? Today, I’m looking at influencer marketing and the global pandemic. Is it all over for influencers? This is an important question with many brands wondering whether they should continue influencer marketing investments or whether doing so is tone deaf. Influencers in a Pandemic – Here to Stay or Go Away? Let’s look.
Is Influencer Marketing Still Necessary?
With 52% of marketers at large multinationals holding back ad spend for six months or more, it’s no wonder influencer marketing has become a topic of hot conversation. Many brands cut influencer deals at the start of the pandemic. Indeed, sponsored posts on Instagram fell from representing 35% of influencer content in mid-February to 4% of creator content in mid-April according to a report from the marketing-analytics for Launchmetrics. Of course, travel and event-based creators were particularly impacted as companies were reluctant to take on any new deals.
But that’s not the end of the story. By June and July, influencer brand deals started to slowly rebound as industries realised that adapting strategies to the current economy and environment could, in fact, be a much better option. Particularly in light of the following statistics:
- According to an A&E study of 1,000 influencers, creators have experienced a jump in likes by 67.1% and comments by 51.3% largely associated with increased social media use and more time spent at home. This means good influencer content could result in increased interaction with branded and sponsored content.
- Influencer marketing pricing has only increased by an average of 3.1% per 1,000 followers, with some influencers having kept their pricing the same while others increased their price by 25%. As engagement surges and the price of sponsored posts has increased only slightly, brands can now take advantage of lower cost per impression and enjoy improved reach, without breaking the bank.
- Despite initial reservations and a drop in influencer contracts, there has been a 72% increase in #ad content by influencers since lockdown began. This is largely credited to the fact influencers can create homegrown content that’s authentic and doesn’t require a huge team during periods of lockdown.
What’s Hot and What’s Not in Influencer Land?
So with the influencer flame reignited, let’s take a look at what’s hot in the realm of influencer marketing. And what should have been made to quarantine and never see the light of day. Here it goes…
Nimbly Adjusting Content
Influencer marketing has always been a powerful technique for building trust, educating an audience and creating new connections. But it’s important to adapt in light of the pandemic.
According to Melissa Moylan, Fashion Snoops Vice President and Creative Director of women’s wear:
“If you’re pretending that everything is business as usual, it’s not going to work, and it won’t resonate with a broader audience anymore.” She explains how right now, people can’t relate to million-dollar sets, beautiful models and hyper realistic settings. Why? Because they are sitting at home with a shirt on the top half and pyjamas on the bottom. Now, she clarifies, is the time for influencers to hang up their stylised outfits and show the cosy sweater or loungewear that they too are living in. After all, “No-one right now wants to see that style peacock.”
This tweet from Lauren Collins really made me LOL…
There are many great examples of influencers getting it right. For example, wellness influencer Keira Krumble talking about her current isolation rotation wardrobe of ‘trackies, linen sets, mismatched pjs, leggings and oversized knits. This is down to earth during a period when not many people are getting dressed to go to work or hit the town. Her pictures are still ‘fresh-faced’ but they’ve an ‘at home’ chicness to them that makes her stand out from the crowd while maintaining her reputation as a wellness guru.
Responding to Lockdown Content Trends and Demands
Similarly, many influencers are shifted their focus towards trending quarantine topics such as fitness, food and meditation. Some mega influencers, like Caroline Daur have diversified from fashion only content to include lengthy workout video posts of over 50-minutes to meet the increased demand for at home wellness during Covid-19. This is perfect because it gives people things to do during lockdown and focuses on trending topics.
Similarly, popular food influencers such as Molly Yeh, filled their pages with easy-to-make recipes and mouth-watering snaps to excite all those at-home bakers. Considering 1 in 5 people have widened their cooking repertoire during the pandemic, it’s really important for food bloggers to stay active online and be useful and relevant to their audience.
Come on, who doesn’t love a bowl of mac ‘n’ cheese?
Offering Bespoke Fitness Plans and Services
During such unpredictable times, many influencers are not putting all their eggs in one basket by relying on brands and paid contracts. Instead, they’re taking the initiative to offer direct, bespoke services – particularly in the land of fitness. Katie Dunlop @lovesweatfitness has boosted her online following by offering a host of free workout content in video form.
She also links to her app where people can choose the workout plans that suit them the best. This is a clever and effective way to monetise the efforts made on social media.
Being Honest and Authentic
Based in Glasgow, lifestyle influencer and blogger Kate Spiers also showed that you can create an authentic social media presence by simply sharing your daily activities in a pretty and eye-catching way. Speaking about the pandemic she said:
“For a lot of us, it’s worked in our favour – our readers have more time to keep up with an engage with our content. I’ve seen my engagement and my following rise dramatically and it’s reminded me why I started my blog in the first place – to share my life and to inspire others to live well.”
Authenticity is big business at the moment with 90% of consumers saying that authenticity is important when deciding which brands they like and support. So, by keeping things simple and relatable, it’s much easier for your audience to connect with what you have to say.
What’s Not Hot?
So we’ve looked at the types of influencer marketing that work well during a pandemic. But what gets a little boring and tedious.
Recycled Travel Content
Sure, it’s difficult for travel influencers to get out and about to create fresh posts and imagery, but do we really need to see the same stuff over and over – especially when it reminds us of better times?
Describing the struggle, Italian-American influencer and model Tania Maria Caringi said:
“Creating content for me has been a bit challenging since the lockdown and it’s double the task being stuck in Italy. But I have to mix in a bit of creativity and share some of my throwback content with fans.”
OK, so we understand that throwbacks are a good filler, but its important to also get creative and adjust content accordingly as above. How about staycation stuff?
Also, think about your hashtags. Are they relatable to a wider audience or are they likely to frustrate and annoy? I’m sure we can all say that we don’t really feel like ‘free spirits’ during a pandemic where travelling and living our best lives is extremely difficult.
If you are going to repost old content, it’s understandable, but perhaps try to put a new spin on it. The below post from @babewheresmypassport acknowledges the pandemic and addresses what we used to take for granted. It then clearly states that it’s a flashback post so we’re not left wondering how these influencers can travel so freely when the rest of the world is having difficulties. Again, it’s about assessing the mood and creating content to match.
As a travel influencer looking to keep your channels alive, it’s cool to share unseen content like @alenpalander and to go slightly off-piste with lockdown recommendations or things to do that are relevant to the current climate. This makes your content much more relatable and down to earth while still ensuring you can post what you want to post. Alen Palander tells a story in the below update, letting people into his world. It’s also conversational which relaxes the tone.
Who could forget that cringe moment when Madonna uploaded an Instagram post of her sat in a rose petal bathtub with gold taps talking about covid-19 being the ‘great equaliser’? Not us! But she’s not the only one to have pushed those insensitive content buttons.
Arielle Charnas of @Somethingnavy recently received backlash for decamping to the Hamptons after testing positive for COVID-19 in New York City. The influencer shared her diagnosis with her 1.3 million followers on March 18 and since been dragged by Diet Prada and The New York Post for Instagram posts that show Charnas enjoying “fresh air” at her luxury rental and for dancing on TikTok in high-end sweats.
“Influencers are currently walking a fine line between posts that address reality and show that they are in touch with what others are going through, and posts that offer their followers a sense of joy or escapism. We still crave beautiful content, but there’s a way to do it that has a level of sensitivity of what’s happening right now and is still rooted in reality,” Moylan said.
The influencers that do survive will need to cleverly manage their presence or risk being called out or forgotten. What’s your take on influencer marketing… here to stay or go away? Comment with your thoughts or tweet me @Charli_Says.