Social media usage among consumers has seen a marked increase throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. According to data from Kantar, social media engagement has increased by 61 percent over normal usage rates. The use of video platforms is also increasing, and we are seeing influencers and celebrities utilising platforms like Instagram Live to entertain and connect with their audiences. Just in March, TikTok saw 6.2 million downloads, a 27 percent increase compared to February. This has been emphasised with influencers pivoting their content too, from Joe Wicks hosting daily PE classes and Jamie Oliver launching a new show dedicated to utilising store cupboard essentials to Olivia Bowen donating 100% profits of her new fashion range to charity.
With everything constantly changing amidst the crisis, it’s hard to know how to still get your brands messages across. For this reason, many brands are turning to influencer marketing and here’s why:
Social Media Usage Has Skyrocketed
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the governmental lockdown enforcements, we’ve seen a huge rise in social media usage, with reports showing at least a 20 percent increase in app and mobile usage, and this has of course increased the interactivity and engagement on social posts.
With the nation primarily working from home and staying indoors to align with social distancing regulations, the increase in social media activity is hardly surprising. Social media has always been a prominent tool for businesses and brands to market themselves and get their products seen but this increase in usage has also seen a huge rise in influencer engagement too. While we’re all stuck at home, we’ve seen influencers having to pivot their content to coincide with current climate and engagement has skyrocketed. Using social media and influencers huge social following can help you to draw traction to your brand.
Influencers Are Changing Their Content To Coincide With The Current Climate
Over the course of the last few months, influencers have begun pivoting their social posts, YouTube videos and advertised content to coincide with the current climate. We’ve seen influencers returning to their roots, with their content becoming somewhat more ‘relatable’ to the everyday follower. We’ve seen this shown through chatty at home stories videos, no makeup selfies, reaching out and showing that it’s okay to not be ‘productive’ during this crazy time and watching endless Netflix shows.
Jenn Im, fashion YouTuber and content creator, recently set up an online book club, named Curl Up Club, allowing her followers to read alongside her in the monthly books and to interact with Jenn in a new way. Claudia Sulewski also launched an ‘at-home’ podcast with her boyfriend, Finneas O’Connell, dedicated to their daily lives and current climate themes.
We’re also seeing influencers branching out and utilising their voice of authority through working with brands that are helping amidst the crisis. Joe Wicks launched his at-home PE classes that run every weekday morning through the lockdown period, and this has led to brand partnerships and huge media interest since beginning.
Meanwhile former Love Island star Olivia Bowen has recently launched a brand new clothing range with In The Style, and has since decided to donate 100% of the profits from the sales straight to Age UK, the charity that’s dedicated to supporting the elderly across the UK, in light of the current global crisis. Influencers are primarily working with brands who are at-home focused during this time, which makes their content more relatable, reliable and authentic.
Adopting The ‘New Normal’ Attitude
It’s all very well using influencer marketing to get your brand across to customers but for optimum engagement and result, brands will need to rethink their marketing strategy to drive engagement and outcome. For example, if your brand is centred around travel, think of ways to utilise the current climate rather than not focusing on advertising at all. While we can’t travel right now, reach out to influencers and celebrities for future projects to help business get back up on its feet when lockdown restrictions are loosened.
French multinational corporation and conglomerate LVMH is a prime example of a brand changing their branding during this unpredictable time, as they pledged to make hand sanitisers to tackle a national shortage in France during the COVID-19 crisis. Brewdog, known for their craft beers and pubs across the UK, have also pivoted their process to making hand sanitisers too, delivering them to the NHS and those most affected by the virus. Take a look at our article on ways influencers, brands and celebrities are changing their branding style to help amidst the crisis.
Longer Brand-to-Influencer Partnerships
At the beginning of the year, we put together a list of 20 influencer marketing trends for 2020, and while many of the predictions have become present, the surge in longer brand-to-influencer partnerships has grown particularly.
Brands who have had their budgets cut or are looking to adjust their marketing to limit their spend have begun working on longer, larger scale projects with influencers rather than focusing on smaller, one off paid content posts. Helen Anderson, content creator and social influencer has been working with JBL Audio on a long-term basis for several months, with the posts and mentions sporadic rather than outwardly showcased continually and this helps to keep audiences interested and not bombarded with one particular brand constantly.
Driving Organic Engagement
Following on from these longer brand-to-influencer partnerships, these help to drive organic engagement from influencers pages to brands websites and profiles too. Many brands themselves are starting to pivot their focus to coincide with the ‘stay home’ message.
Beauty influencers are adapting their content to coincide with products from at-home beauty regimes to makeup tips. A great way to get your product and brand seen is through influencer gifting. Alternatively, other brands are helping to drive their engagement through competitions and contests on influencers profiles. Redken recently partnered with Klaudia Kedziora in a small giveaway, while Melaine Murphy partnered with the Beaumont Heroes Appeal in the hope that her online community can help raise as many funds as possible to give back to the medical staff fighting and risking their lives on the frontline, whether it’s a warming coffee or a nourishing lunch to boost them through their shifts. All she’s asking is for her community to donate €10 using the link on her Instagram, comment ‘donated’ and tag a friend, and they’ll be in with the chance of winning a €500 ASOS voucher.
Authenticity And Personalisation Is Key
Keeping authenticity is key with influencer marketing, it’s key for prime audience interaction and engagement. To make sure influencers keep their social following feeling like a strong community, they’re partnering with brands that coincide with their ideals and values. Brands can use this to their advantage when looking to target and promote with influencers as it’s important they also find influencers that are relevant to their brand ideals. Tips on this can be found here.
Understanding Brand-to-Customer Loyalty
Brand-to-customer loyalty follows on from authenticity as it’s important to have strong brand values in order to connect and engage with customers. Customers are quick witted so know when an influencer partnership isn’t authentic and therefore this won’t help your brand in sales or engagement.
Utilising Influencers As Ambassadors
Influencers are also partnering with brands and becoming brand ambassadors too, which helps to keep both the influencers and brands focus authentic. For example, Jenn Im has partnered with La Mer to become one of their brand influencers and in a recent post, pivoted the caption and photograph to coincide with the current climate, talking about current sleeping schedules amidst the lockdown and isolation period. These partnerships give brands the opportunity to drive conversation even when advertisements aren’t running.
Employees Encouraged To Become Influencers
Another trend that’s been popping up this year and continually throughout the pandemic is the use of employees as brand ambassadors. It’s become a powerful tool for brands such as Modcloth and Macys.com in promoting their practices, ideals and values because their employers know the brand inside-out, and it’s an easy way for brands to be able to market themselves through influencer marketing too.