The global outbreak of COVID-19 has quickly caused disruption for the influencer marketing industry. The immediate effects of COVID-19 on businesses are far-reaching and no matter what industry you are in, the marketing space is starting to see major shakeups. Now that teams are adjusting to working from home, advertising budgets have been frozen, and all industry events have been postponed or canceled altogether, the influencer marketing industry has been quick to react and adapt.
It is a sensitive time for everyone and brands do not want to come across as flippant or ignorant during such times. Therefore allocating a marketing budget that can’t always be tracked to sales, during a period of such uncertainty and upheaval for us all might not be such a good idea.
On the brighter side, there has been a significant increase in social media usage. There is a big scope for social content that is sensitive and can be used during such times. Influencers, in particular, are well-equipped to adapt to the current situation and the fact that people are deliberately seeking out content that people might find helpful during self-isolation could potentially be grist to the mill.
Here’s what is trending on social media in terms of influencer marketing
Live Streaming is trending – With millions of citizens confined to their homes, the live streaming industry has seen an unexpected boost. Even though it has always been popular among instagram influencers to connect with their followers in real-time, the outbreak of coronavirus has resulted in a surge for this kind of content. Brands are hosting live-streaming sessions with influencers to bring something new to the table for the viewers and give them an insight. Cooking, baking, beauty, fashion, and fitness are some of the top trending live-streaming sessions. The fitness sector has also capitalized on this trend. With more and more people getting into a fitness routine to break to the monotony of their boring days, fitness influencers have also seen increased engagement on live fitness videos. In China, many luxury brands turned to live streaming during the lockdown as they are dependent on Asian countries especially China for the majority of sales. Josie Zhang, President of Burberry China said: “Customers are craving newness, and the live streaming is a safe and exciting way for us to deliver exactly that, especially at a time where some customers are not able to join us in stores.
Spread the message – Brands have been using influencers marketing to promote purpose-driven campaigns capitalizing on the wide reach of influencers in order to send a message across. This is the time for influencers to use their reach and spread awareness about the pandemic. More and more people will resonate with them if they seem genuine because honestly during this time no one wants to see influencers blatantly promote products without any message behind it. The government of Finland has listed influencers as ‘key workers’ and is taking their help to communicate information about to pandemic. People are more likely to listen to someone they like rather than just a faceless brand. The World Health Organization has also enlisted a number of global influencers for the “safe hands challenge” #SafeHands which is a campaign to encourage people to wash their hands properly and frequently. So going forward, we can definitely see brands offering such roles to influencers to spread awareness and spread a positive message as well as generate funds for those in need.
Engagements on Tik-Tok are soaring – Ever since the world has been on lockdown, TikTok app has seen soaring engagements over the past month. TikTok saw a 12% rise in global downloads in a single week, going from 25.4m on March 9th to 28.5m on March 16th. It is definitely the hottest app right now and more and more people are joining the app. TikTok is also flooded with coronavirus campaigns with trends often started or popularised by influencers. So many small creators have got viral due to the coronavirus content that they have posted. One example is Rachel Leary, who recently created a viral video of herself ‘raving to the BBC News theme tune’, and now has over 19,000 followers on the platform as a result.
Solution-based content – Solution based content is another trending content that we are likely to see for quite a while now. Anything instructional or a tutorial on beauty, fashion, fitness, cooking, meditating, etc is getting the attention of users all over social media. This is the time for influencers to interact as much as they can with their followers and build a community. The audience is loving anything that is helping them to get through these tough times.
With more and more influencers are starting to have interactive sessions on their social media accounts, it is inevitable that this is going to be the next stop for brands to reach out to their customers. It is not the best time for brands to advertise or promote their product conspicuously, influencers are going to play a major role to help them do so as commercially communicating appropriately via influencer marketing is far easier.
It is ironic how the influencer community has been a source of derision in the past but during these tough times, people are in the search of a community more than ever. Today, influencers stand more relevant than ever to help people collectively get through this global crisis.