Can influencers connect during a pandemic?
According to Advertising Age, influencer marketing in mid-March came to a halt as the pandemic “made much of what influencers once did look tone-deaf.”
The killer fashion looks and glamorous trips many blogged or vlogged about suddenly appeared insensitive with the arrival of COVID-19. Travel restrictions, business closures and cancellations of events such as Austin’s South by Southwest also made creating fresh content a huge challenge.
Yet surveys show that influencers wield some influence:
- According to Edelman’s 2019 trust barometer report, 63 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds trust influencers’ opinions of brands more than advertising done by the brand itself.
- “The Influencer Report” from Morning Consult that came out last November found that 52 percent of Millennials trust influencers they follow on product recommendations, compared to 38 percent for their favorite celebrities.
Influencers do have an advantage at this time because their followers are typically more engaged on their devices and social media as they shelter at home. Although commercial production is generally locked down, influencers can film themselves without a crew and quickly refresh messaging.
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Three weeks ago I was in the south of France, staying at a beautiful hotel just outside Montpellier. Quite frankly it feels like months ago. Freely travelling, sitting late over supper with friends, eating food I haven’t cooked, basking outdoors in the sunshine, wearing makeup, even using a gym: these all seem frankly alien activities now that my world has shrunk to inside the four walls of my home. But the way I get through this is to remind myself that this will all be possible again. Meanwhile, I’m editing my photographs, thinking about drinking rosé in the sunshine, whilst wearing my new leopard print dress. In honour of my dress, which is not going to get much wear over the next two months, I’ve done a 🐆 print edit over on my website, and I’ve put the link over on stories for you. Shot at the @domainedeverchant_official in Montepellier whilst on a press trip in March 2020
But developing appropriate content can be a challenge. While travel is out, gaming interest is thriving with how-to YouTube videos as people look to be entertained at home. Fitness and cooking as well as COVID-19 topics such as do-it-yourself haircuts are also popular.
Benjamin Spiegel, chief digital officer of Procter & Gamble’s beauty division, told Advertising Age, “It’s not necessarily what’s the new summer style, but what is some new job we have to do? What are the new consumer needs, especially working from home?”
The New York Times reports that many companies are encouraging messages of optimism and self-care with some barring the mention of coronavirus in influencer posts.
RewardStyle, which connects brands to influencers, recently sent out an email encouraging influencers to feel empowered to post about fashion, offering guidelines on how to remain tasteful.
“Brands are struggling for authenticity in this COVID crisis and influencers provide that in a way that other channels fail to do,” Amber Venz Box, RewardStyle’s president, told the Times. “We know consumers are seeking escapism that our influencers provide.”
- Influencers’ currency has increased during Covid-19 crisis – Vogue Business
- How Brands Can Still Do Influencer Marketing During The Pandemic – Advertising Age
- Macaroni recipes and hand washing videos. How influencers are adapting to the coronavirus crisis – Los Angeles Times
- The pandemic and the influencer: will the lifestyle survive coronavirus? – The Guardian
- COVID-19 Hinders Influencer Marketing Collaborations, Causes Some Creators to Shift Focus – eMarketer
- Don’t Mention the Virus! And Other Marketing Tips – The New York Times
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think influencers hold more value for marketers or pose more risks during the pandemic? What advice would you have around using influencers at this time?