COVID-19’s Impact on Influencer Marketing: How to Act Responsibly

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began to unfold, marketers worldwide have had to evaluate their current strategies and tactics, and consider ways to adjust in this new climate. Some brands are needing to reconsider how they’re reaching consumers. Brands that already utilize social media need to seek a new messaging approach. While some portions of the country are beginning to reopen their economies, it is clear that it will take a while before life as we knew it to return, and that will undoubtedly impact many markets for the foreseeable future. Influencer relations, a form of marketing that has grown in popularity across a variety of verticals, is a specific approach that has raised a lot of questions in this time of uncertainty.

Much like health experts warn that COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon, it’s unlikely that influencers are going to disappear either. However, as we adjust to this “new normal,” there are things that will have to change, particularly as communities start to go back to their daily lives, still while working to practice social distancing and taking extra care of their health

Meet consumers where they are.

According to a recent Kantar study, 77% of respondents are looking for brands to help them through their “new everyday life.” Additionally, as people spend more time than ever at home, they are also engaging more on social media — 20% more in Q1, according to App Annie. For many brands, influencers can fit nicely at the intersection of these two things. They become a vehicle for reaching our consumers who are relying heavily on their virtual relationships (with both personal friends and those they only know through social media) and are leaning into social platforms to do so.

How can brands be sure their influencer campaigns are well received? Is it completely tone-deaf to carry on with business as usual when we’re recovering from a pandemic? By putting a few new lenses on our influencer engagements, we can utilize this powerful marketing tactic to reach our consumers during this trying time and strengthen our relationships with them in a way that will carry on long after this crisis subsides.

1. Choose partners wisely

Influencer selection is an important part of any campaign — pandemic or not. Lean into what they do best. For brands selling products online, this may be an easy answer. 38% of shoppers report shopping online for things they would normally shop for in store, and 49% report shopping more online now than they ever have before. Find those influencers who are still sharing their favorite fashion, home and beauty finds. For other brands, this balance may be more delicate. Are you looking for a brand advocate to help share your updated messaging during this time? Make sure you’re finding a person who can deliver that message authentically and appropriately.

2. Consider what value you’re bringing

Prior to the pandemic, research from Facebook indicated that users were scrolling more than 30 feet of content daily. With more people staying at home, that is up 40%. While behavior on social will continue to shift as people return to work, it’s important to remember that while users certainly are engaged on this platform, your influencers are not the only ones trying to reach them. Consider what your target audience is experiencing at this time, what kinds of information they may be looking for or what their overall mindset is. As we all continue to navigate these trying times, it’s important to provide users with valuable messages and information through your influencers, not just push product.

3. Do right by your community

Influencers can be a great way to bring awareness to things you’re doing in your community and consumers expect brands, more than ever, to be helpful during this time. Whether you have a new initiative to support those affected by the pandemic, or your brand has always had a charitable cause, consider how an influencer can help you raise awareness for that. Finding the right influencer partner can be a great way to deliver this message without going out of the way to toot your own horn

Wondering how influencers might fit into your current marketing mix? Give us a shout. We’d love to chat.

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