Social Media Influencers Amid The COVID-19 Crisis

Social Media Influencers Amid The COVID-19 Crisis: The Struggles Faced and Survival Strategy Adopted

As the novel coronavirus continues to spread its tentacles, a third of the world population is forced to stay inside the confines of their safe homes.  Governments across the world have stepped up their efforts to manage this pandemic by implementing stringent measures of imposing a lockdown and making quarantine and social distancing mandatory. This is likely to come as no surprise that social media apps and streaming platforms are being used tremendously amid the COVID-19 lockdown, given the dire need of people to stay connected and socialize while practicing social distancing. 

 The lockdown has led to a sharp spike in the viewership for television particularly news channels. Aside from the pandemic induced lockdown; television, digital media such as OTT streaming platforms and social media apps all have a crucial role to play in turning us into a couch potato. We have glued our eyeballs to our television, laptop, and mobile phone screens in a bid to stay entertained and aware in these difficult times. However, despite a soaring surge in media usage, the lockdown has affected ad monetization and brand marketing strategies at large.

The Impact of Lockdown on Influencer Marketing 

The coronavirus induced quarantine has significantly affected the brand advertising opportunities at hand, restricted creativity, and reduced the chance to explore and leverage the various marketing strategies to their brand’s benefit. However, a reduced number of advertisers provide the remaining few in the pool with an opportunity to create brand awareness and connect with audiences more than ever.

According to recent research, 88 percent of consumers repose equal trust in online recommendations as well as those delivered in person. This largely determines the impact of influencer marketing on brands. The upward shift in the usage of social media also suggests that social media apps such as TikTok, Instagram, Likee, Facebook are the ones that must be leveraged to push brand advertising campaigns. Such platforms have been used immensely to gain consumer trust by adopting influencer marketing strategies. While brands restructure their marketing strategy to stay afloat in the times of COVID-19, social media apps are their best bet to promote brand visibility during the lockdown period. 

1. The Challenges Faced by Influencers Due to Lockdown 

Although the increased social media usage gives the influencers an edge to gain followers and drive user engagement faster than ever; the lack of sponsorships and outdoor movement has brought about a major paradigm shift in the content being created. 

According to a report by the marketing platform, Zefmo; an overwhelming 95 % of the influencer respondents believed that COVID-19 is likely to influence their earnings adversely. The survey which was conducted among 1500 influencers from different social media platforms suggested that the nationwide lockdown induced work from home culture has presented them with different constraints such as 

  • 55% of influencers suggest that staying at home hampers their creativity by depriving them of access to professional editors and photographers making it difficult for them to shoot and edit without any hassles.
  •  2 out of 3 influencers hailing from non-metro cities believed that poor internet connectivity is a major obstacle while they work from home.  
  • 47% of the respondents revealed that staying at home is coercing them to review old products. 
  • Reduced sponsorships 

2. How are Influencers Adapting 

The coronavirus has brought everything to a standstill, except essential services. Advertising, marketing, and businesses have come to a halt. This change has forced all of us to tweak our lifestyle to adapt to the present situation. Influencers have had to undergo the same transformation to optimize on this excessive traffic on social media to stay connected with their audience. 

Many influencers have risen to the occasion and are capitalizing on their reach to target global concerns around the pandemic and engage in the most sought after conversations around COVID-19. 

Influencers are adapting to the COVID-19 Pandemic by focusing on:

  • Livestreams and webinars to interact with their audience in real-time. Around 58% of the participants agreed to resort to live stream regularly to connect with their followers. Several influencers are using the Livestream option on YouTube and Twitch to play games where the audience has an option to interact with them via the Superchat feature. 
  • Leveraging their reach to educate their user base about the importance of health and hygiene as a preventive strategy against the coronavirus. The recent #handwashingchallenge by Dettol gained traction and garnered the participation of millions of users. Several challenges initiated by the influencers can serve as a refreshing way for their audience to maintain positivity in these testing times. 
  • Joining hands with government and NGO’s to raise donations for essential services and create content to promote charity to help the poor, and the marginalized sections of the society get meals and medicines to fight COVID-19. 
  • Around 80% of the influencers are planning and creating organic content related to coronavirus. 

3. Top Ten Genres Being Explored During the Lockdown

Bearing in mind, the not so normal lifestyle that we are living in; influencers are trying to rope in newer themes and genres to drive user engagement. They are trying to create content that is relatable, easy, and normal for the homebound to adapt. The marketing campaigns have toned down and the topic is introduced subtly while associating them with preventive and management strategies on the COVID19 Pandemic.  

  • A fair 64% of influencers have embarked on reinventing their social media handles by exploring new genres to sustain and survive amid the ongoing health crisis. 
  • The report also underlined that the top top-ten content genres that are likely to emerge in the current scenario include:
  1. Health & wellbeing 
  2. Food & nutrition advice  
  3. Comedy & satire punches
  4. Do-it-yourself (DIY) ideas
  5. Music & dance tutorials 
  6. Training & educational tips 
  7. Fashion & makeup tutorials 
  8. Career & personal finance advice
  9. Motivational content
  10. Mental health awareness

Final Thoughts 

We all have been craving and aspiring for the life of an influencer which seemed quite unachievable as if set in a parallel universe. Luxurious hotels, exorbitant clothes, expensive accessories, and fancy lifestyles all a part of the marketing strategies are just existing today while donation and charity campaigns are the ones playing the part in society and community service in the fight against COVID-19. 

As we relax back in our work from home stations looking from the lens of a quarantined individual, we should introspect on how cemented to reality do we want our digital atmosphere to be in the post-COVID-19 era. Once we are aware of the mindful social media choices we make, the trends we follow, and the people we admire, we can easily model our lifestyles and help contribute to society in the long run.

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