COVID-19 Pandemic has left us homebound and distant from the external world. Several measures have been implemented to curb the spread of the virus including the imposition of a mandatory quarantine, travel restrictions, closure of business setups, and cancellation of events. Likewise, the marketing landscape has undergone various transformations owing to social distancing and quarantine replacing our usual way of living due to the virus outbreak. Since marketing expenditure has been reduced, brands need to capitalize on digital ways of marketing that include social media, emails, and influencer marketing.
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The preventive strategies employed have hindered the ways of the influencer marketing industry which is transforming to weather this health crisis. Social media content creators are shifting focus to reshape their content in a way to keep their audience network engaged. For instance, the travel restrictions have coerced the hospitality sector to cut back on their marketing expenditure thus having an impact on the social media presence of travel influencers. Similarly, food bloggers have been forced to sit back inside the safety of their homes, making it difficult for them to upgrade their social media feed. Thus, the Pandemic has prompted both the influencers and the brands to evaluate and restructure their marketing strategies to sustain user engagement.
The Impact of Covid-19 on Influencer Marketing
Although the popular narrative speaks that the pandemic has led to fewer brand collaborations, digital platforms are the best bet to spearhead meaningful marketing strategies. This is largely contributed to the unprecedented increase in the consumption of social media platforms while people practice social distancing.
With such increased social media usage, influencers have gained an opportunity to keep their active audience engaged, with their creative and positive content.
Celebrities and influencers are leveraging live streams to connect with their audience on Instagram and Facebook particularly reflecting upon the implications of the Pandemic. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) resorted to Instagram and TikTok to launch its Safe Hands Challenge campaign with a bunch of influencers to encourage the basic preventive measure of handwashing among the general public. The campaign was very impactful and garnered immense popularity. This stands as testimony to the fact that influencer marketing can be a reliable source of digital marketing when companies have little to invest during and even after the Pandemic.
Creating Content in The Times of COVID-19
In the face of the present crisis, the influencer industry needs to be mindful of the needs of their audience and generate organic content partnering with the right brand. Influencer Marketing is a tool to churn trust, advocacy, and sales for brands that connect the consumers and the brands more effectively.
According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: In Brands We Trust, it was found 63% of individuals aged 18-34 years relied on the voice of an influencer about a brand rather than the brand itself.
A report by Social Bakers on State of Social Media: The Impact of COVID-19, reveals crucial insights into the changing behavior of brands and users and how marketers can take advantage of the recent developments. The Pandemic induced economic disruption has led to a decrease in the ad spend and a simultaneous increase in digital content and user engagement. With plenty of time at their disposal, users are devoting their time to digital screens to stay updated, connected, and entertained. The lower ad costs across the coronavirus afflicted regions present the brands with an opportunity to channelize it in a way to reach a wider pool of audience. The report brings to light that there has been an increase in the number of organic posts as compared to paid promotions across the globe indicating that organic strategies driven with the right content may outweigh paid promotions.
Influencers are creative beings with a knack for communicating brand stories targeted to a specific audience in a meaningful way. Since influencers are adaptable, many have tweaked their content to cater to the needs of their audience as they sit in a house arrest. Let’s take a look at how the coronavirus has brought about a paradigm shift in the content being produced by the influencers:
- With a gradual shift in format, tone, and genre; influencers are trying to create content relevant to the present times. Influencers are trying to rope in newer themes like health and well-being, food and nutrition, comedy, and satire being the top 3 emerging genres.
- Several celebrities and influencers are utilizing social media to contribute to charity and donation drives with the help of revenue generated from a particular live session, challenge, video, or post.
- Engaging in community-driven entertainment while being sensitive is what the consumers expect brands to be when they choose influencer marketing.
- Utilizing influencer marketing to promote awareness among the general public regarding the disease and preventive measures.
- Partner with trusted influencers with a tightly knit audience base.
Trends That Are Gaining Traction in The Influencer Marketing Space
A recent report by Obviously titled Trends Report: The Impact of Coronavirus on Influencer Marketing surveyed 1000 influencers and analyzed data surrounding Instagram posts and TikTok Influencers has revealed some key trends that are being explored widely amid the coronavirus Pandemic.
The report sheds light on how influencer marketing is evolving in the present situation and which type of content is generating the maximum traffic while everyone is scrolling their Instagram and TikTok feed. The following trends were identified:
- Work from home hasn’t restricted the professional aspirations of influencers. All the more, influencers have become their production agencies straight from the comfort of their homes. It has also reduced additional creative costs by 50% while increasing opportunities by 33% and ad performance in social ads by 40%
- There is an overwhelming demand for live streams and video content across different verticals from education to fitness to wellness. A 50% increase in Facebook Live and a 70% increase in messenger Live was reported while around 92% of the influencers were open to the idea of hosting a live streaming session.
- Niche verticals have taken the mainstream road, with home life and health and wellness verticals experiencing the maximum growth.
- TikTok has emerged as a gainer with a 27% increase in user engagement and a 24% increase in the number of influencers. TikTok has reportedly seen a 67% increase in consumption.
- Influencers are using social media space to pledge charity and donations for noble causes. 80% of influencers were of the view that they would participate in a charity hosting campaign without any compensation.
The current pandemic has propelled content creators to push beyond their limits and paint a vision that suits a wider purpose and emphasize on the collective good rather than just being opportunistic.