Influencer Marketing Avenues During COVID-19 Lockdown

Actionable ways to work with influencers amid corona crisis.

Clara Alex
Combin Blog

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Coronavirus outbreak changed every corner of our daily lives. Borders are shut down, the economy is slowly disrupting, and some businesses are nearly or already dead.

Even with this confusion, brands and entrepreneurs are still crying out for consumer attention, but it’s hard to know how to talk to customers under the current circumstances. Leveraging influencer marketing through organic partnerships is a solution.

With social distancing requirements in place, brands are finding it increasingly challenging to keep creating quality content using conventional methods. The Combin team has dug through social media influencers’ content to find out what avenues influencer marketing has during the COVID-19 lockdown.

What social media influencers face these days

The pandemic changes it all. Disrupted economy and small to medium-sized businesses are still running or completely closed, budgets are tight, campaigns are cancelled or grounded to a halt.

It’s not everyday that a brand in an insanely unsexy VOIP industry can pull off a social media stunt and get 100K+ views of “social experiment” video shot in just a few hours, there is a great interview about it on VanillaSoft here.

Getting traction on social media is tough, particularly now. The fashion industry above all feels the restrictions and limitations. Consumers’ behaviour and retail are changing rapidly, and flagship fashion events are taking place online or being cancelled. Fashion influencers are forced to adjust their content on social media but keep it appealing for their audience who loved the content they used to make.

The fashion industry above all feels the restrictions and limitations. Consumers’ behaviour and retail are changing rapidly, and flagship fashion events are taking place online or being cancelled. Fashion influencers are forced to adjust their content on social media but keep it appealing for their audience who loved the content they used to make.

Fashion influencers are changing their agenda, promotion methods, and keeping an eye on the content they upload remaining in the same niche. Now, instead of street style shots in fancy cafes and Instagrammable places, fashion influencers every so often post their home looks, workouts, beauty routine and family pictures.

Due to the pandemic, fashion influencers are almost completely deprived of new enquiries, which means their incomes cut exponentially. According to the Econsultancy report, marketing activity in the fashion segment has cut by nearly 50%, and sponsored opportunities like trips, campaigns, and cocktail parties are postponed or totally cancelled.

Lifestyle influencers are relatively lucky. Their content looks on point like never before: beauty tips, work-from-home hacks, books and TV series must-watch lists look good during the novel Coronavirus pandemic. This type of content is what fashion influencers should focus on these days. Such posts contribute to strong relationships between an influencer and their followers which will pay off later, after the lockdown and the pandemic come to an end.

Yet, fashion influencers are not the only ones who suffer a lack of enquiries and income cuts. Travel bloggers are facing the most challenging times. Content dedicated to travel and trips has become unsolicited and even criticized.

Yet, many travel bloggers keep on posting their stockpiled old travel photos and videos, making their followers jealous or confused. Like fashion bloggers, travel influencers need to tailor their content to the current reality. And absolute winners here are Murad and Nataly Osmann whose Instagram FollowMeTo is now dedicated to their old aesthetic but at home, not at exotic fancy places.

They even created the special #FollowMeTo hashtag and launched eponymous awards for rewarding those who, as well as Murad and Nataly, responsibly stay at home. The challenge has echoed by more than a thousand Instagrammers already.

Naturally, many travel bloggers create less content these days, but at least they try to adapt to these new circumstances. As an entrepreneur, you need to remember that during your marketing campaign.

Influencer marketing avenues

On the one hand, influencers’ audience and reach are growing, sometimes drastically — by 20%-50%. The reason for this is that people have more time to spend on social media and scrolling their feeds. At this point, marketers and business owners should not discard the opportunity to partner with an influencer.

A recent survey from Influence Central shows influencers are flourishing as sources of news, advice and reassurance during the COVID-19 crisis.

36% of influencers see a significant increase in impressions and engagement within their Instagram audiences. The figure is almost identical to Facebook and Pinterest.

On the other hand, this challenging time influences users’ mood in accordance with which bloggers should make their content to remain popular. This is why 73% of influencers dedicated at least one post to coronavirus. They try to be useful and yet entertaining for their audience since followers tired of anxious news on mass media are looking for the escape in influencers’ content.

Now, during the pandemic, influencers start using new forms to distribute their content. On Instagram, the number of live streams has doubled in one week. Instagram users now publish 6.1 Stories daily on average, and the Stories’ views have increased by 21%.

Instagram stimulates people to watch Stories by adding a temporary Stay Home sticker. Every Instagram Story containing this sticker stays on top of all other Stories.

Influencers pivot not only to new forms of content distribution but also to new platforms. Under the social distancing circumstances, TikTok is gaining momentum. This app with short videos was declared as the most popular social media channel back in 2019, but this year, it strengthened its positions. It turned out that TikTok is a perfect quarantine entertainment.

Celebrities and influencers like Emily Rataikowski, Jessica Alba, Justin Bieber and Mariah Carey master TikTok. Yet, not only stars consider TikTok as a place for content distribution. Such authoritative organizations like the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation hosted a live stream dedicated to COVID-19 there, and the Ministry of Health of Kazakhstan launched the Stay Home, Save Life challenge on the platform.

No wonder that for influencers, TikTok is becoming a significant promotion platform. So if you’ve never used TikTok and think that it’s occupied by kids with stupid content, think again. Think and leverage its potential in your marketing.

Digital influencers are also an option when it comes to influencer marketing. If humans are subject to catching viruses and are forced to stay inside, virtual influencers such as Bermuda or Miquela are that alternative brands can use in their campaigns now.

Digital models gain millions of Instagram followers and collaborate with international fashion houses like Prada, Givenchy and Maison Margiela. And some of them even are being activists and partnering with the World Health Organization.

Ways to work with influencers during COVID-19 shutdown

All in all, ways of pitching and collaborating with influencers have not changed due to the pandemic. Main steps are the same: you pick an influencer relevant to your brand, check their quality and audience, and start working. Depending on your goal and budget, you either want to work with a celebrity or a micro-influencer.

Speaking of the metrics you should check, these are an influencer’s engagement rate, reach, audience quality and reputation. Still, there is a metric that you can’t assess until you start partnering with a blogger, and this is the trust of an influencer’s audience.

Considering that during the pandemic influencers create content they are not used to creating, pay attention to what blogger posts. For instance, if this is a fashion influencer whose content compiled street style looks or shots from fashion shows’ runways, now their grid is pivoting to something different. They’re unable to walk on the city’s streets and create the same old polished posts now. Keep that in mind before outreaching.

Influencer marketing is also a solution if you don’t have extensive content stored up. Many companies have just a couple of weeks of social content left in their stockpile. As a result, companies who have traditionally depended on their own shoots for the material will now have to pivot to fill that gap — and influencers are a logical place to source that content.

Besides, don’t forget to outreach influencers on various social media platforms. Instagram is not the only source of bloggers. Keep an eye on TikTok, YouTube and Pinterest, too.

Key takeaways

  • Some influencers are experiencing hard times, notwithstanding that their reach and audience count has grown. As a result, they get fewer partnership enquiries and lose income.
  • Don’t discard influencer marketing right away. It may be a solution if you don’t have enough content to post for several weeks ahead.
  • Remember that influencers need to adjust to reality and experiment with various types of content. Pay attention to it when outreaching a blogger.
  • Try out different social media platforms like TikTok or YouTube.
  • Collaborate with digital Instagram influencers and models.

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Clara Alex
Combin Blog

Managing Editor at Kill the DJ. Content strategist in audio tech companies. Write about music, AI in audio, podcasting, and all things audio.