The spread of coronavirus has severely impacted the marketing industry, bringing layoffs and business closures, and it’s causing many brands to change their planned media strategies. Influencers are hitting this pivot (hard), and it’s making our industry consider whether influencer marketing is a life raft or a sinking ship, as we all navigate the changing business waters from home. While companies shrink marketing budgets, influencers drop their rates, and Americans remain glued to their screens, let’s recap the livelihood of brand partnerships during a pandemic.
The Current State of Influencer Marketing
Brands are feeling increasing pressure to keep messaging sensitive during such a fragile period. Due to this, there are seemingly fewer influencer campaigns, and WFH creatives are working tirelessly to keep their brands actively thriving while maintaining their mental and physical well-being. According to eMarketer, over 27% of influencers are seeing fewer collaborations and are hitting roadblocks like an increased amount of stress and creative content blockages.
Despite the reduction in influencer marketing campaigns, brands are still prominently trusting these creatives to showcase their authenticity. Marketing Technology Insights remarks that “influencers are uniquely qualified to engage audiences with relevant content. From an agility standpoint, influencers can intuit the needs of their audience and create content on demand.”
How Influencers Are Pivoting During COVID-19
Around 72% of the influencers surveyed by Mavrck this March said that, while they have addressed the current situation in their content, they still plan to continue posting the same material that they usually do. Many influencers want to maintain a sense of normalcy for their followers. More than 15% of influencers said that they are leaning into posting primarily about Covid-19 and its impact. They’ve pivoted to create more content about working from home, managing stay-at-home orders, and teaching their skills to their followers.
According to Adweek, influencers can start pivoting their strategy by pursuing authenticity, being wary of public backlash, prioritizing information and value, and reminding audiences that their brand is here for the long haul. “By investing in the right kind of social campaigns in this moment, you can help maintain brand affinity over time.” Influencers need to analyze, plan, and act during this pandemic for their brand to survive. Laying low can cause a drop in audience engagement, and moving too fast can develop rushed campaigns that push the wrong message. A thoroughly planned influencer strategy will help keep creatives afloat during this crisis and the marketing strategy viable for businesses.
Predictions on the Future of Influencer Marketing
Wisely worded by Diana Pearl, deputy editor of brands at AdWeek, “No, Coronavirus isn’t the end of influencer marketing, but it has put it under a microscope.” Consumers are being more careful than ever for choosing who they listen to, where they shop, and where their income is directly contributing to. Just like any form of advertising in business, influencer marketing is changing. What we’ve experienced in the past is different than what we’re seeing on social during COVID-19, and we will undoubtedly see a brand new direction of influencer marketing towards the end of 2020. My top three predictions: influencers will continue to need to keep their brand authentic which means more carefully choosing brand partnerships, companies will invest more resources into influencers, as they are an ideal bridge between consumers and their products during this period of remote contact, and influencer marketing will become an even bigger side hustle.
The marketing industry seems unstable right now, especially when reviewing the impact COVID-19 has had on influencers. It’s important to acknowledge that although this may temporarily be the new normal, its effects will be widespread and last for many years to come. Pivoting to accommodate the current landscape is essential, as is learning to be more adaptable to withstand future changes.