Why Influencer Marketing Is a Vital Tool to Use During COVID-19
The coronavirus news is changing rapidly with new information and protocols being shared on an hourly basis. In such a turbulent climate, marketers are faced with complex questions about how to proceed with their plans and budgets. For brands who have tapped into the fast-growing influencer marketing space, is it appropriate to move forward with business as usual?
How do you avoid coming across as insensitive? How do you implement short-term changes that won’t set you back too much once things have returned to normal?
These are some of the questions we have been fielding many from our clients. While the answers are nuanced, one common sentiment that has emerged is that now more than ever, social media needs to be a source of accurate information, education, entertainment, and positivity.
When done correctly and with the right strategy, influencers and branded content can alleviate a number of challenges that consumers are facing during this unprecedented crisis, from amplifying critical messages from government and health care officials, to tackling social isolation and boredom.
The following are several tips and considerations that may be of use to fellow marketers grappling with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, and if tapping into influencer marketing is the appropriate choice for their brands:
Think About What People Need During This Time of Extreme Vulnerability
It’s our responsibility as marketers to thoroughly and thoughtfully consider the needs of society at large as we forge ahead. This means taking a hard look across your full marketing plans and building additional sensitivity checks around all communications.
For influencer marketing, this may mean tweaking the brief, the messaging, and even your goals. A liquor brand working with influencers to highlight homemade cocktail recipes, or a beauty brand working with influencers to share at-home beauty regimes can be genuinely helpful to consumers at this time as long as the information is shared in a respectful and nuanced manner.
Beyond marketing products and services, now is the time for brands to really show up for consumers in a helpful way and activate any cause-marketing relief efforts. At Takumi we are running two pro-bono influencer campaigns, opening the brief to all influencers on our platform. These campaigns are focused on scaling WHO’s #safehands campaign globally, as well as launching a separate campaign promoting mental health.
Consumers Want Digital Content as Mobile and Social Media Use Skyrockets During Isolation
There’s a big opportunity (not a scenario that any of us want, but it’s an opportunity nonetheless) to reach consumers through mobile and digital channels. As consumers quickly shift their behaviors and spending patterns, marketers need to adapt their strategies. For example, the efficacy of out of home (OOH) advertising will drastically decrease in the coming weeks and months due to more people staying at home and not going out as frequently as before. Now is a good time to re-allocate marketing dollars to meet people where they are, and where we expect them to be in the coming weeks and months.
Influencer Marketing Space Is Reaching a Point of Maturation
Influencer marketing is still a very recent phenomenon, and the techniques and rules that govern it have had to grow quickly. Over the past decade, as technology has democratized the way we share information and influencers are being increasingly tapped to amplify messages, the industry has been shaken by influencer fraud, scandals, and questionable measurement processes.
2020 was already poised to be the year that influencer marketing cleaned up its act and the COVID-19 crisis will serve as a forcing function to further legitimize the practice. The most influential people on social media are being called on with urgency to create real, unfiltered, and important content.
In recent news that would have been unthinkable this time last year, the U.S. Surgeon General made a plea to Kylie Jenner and other influencers to help get his message across. Marketers and content creators must rise to these calls of action.
Many Millennials and Gen Z Trust Influencers
Influencers are proven to be incredibly persuasive and trustworthy, especially among younger audiences (our recent whitepaper found 34% of consumer respondents credit influencers with purchases made in the past six months, rising significantly to 91% of 16- to 24 years-olds in the U.K. and U.S.)
Younger people’s trust in influencers is so important right now considering many have not gotten the message from health officials, traditional media, etc. and have not been taking the threat seriously enough (e.g, Coronavirus pandemic doesn't slow spring breakers' party).
Influencer Campaigns Are Flexible Enough to Keep Up with Current Needs and Have Global Reach
Influencer marketing campaigns are extremely adaptable and can be launched or tweaked quickly, which makes them quite valuable. Many influencers also have global reach and can help spread crucial information from one afflicted area to other parts of the world: For example, take a look at Italian influencer Chiara Ferragni, who has quickly become a public health advocate and battled rampant misinformation from other celebrities amid the lockdown in Milan.
No one knows what other curve balls we may face during this pandemic (essential goods and services could conceivably be impacted by sustained lockdowns, a second outbreak wave could follow once people start to let their guards down), and influencers and brands can help drive targeted messages and interact with consumers in an empathetic way, no matter what the current needs or mood of the public is.
Content Creators Have the Ability to Entertain and Add Levity to Consumers’ Lives
In addition to amplifying life-saving information, influencers could be tapped to help lighten the mood, where appropriate. We know people are going to be looking for escapism and something that helps them feel good about the world. Influencers and tasteful branded content are well positioned to fill this void. Being a steady, reliable, enthusiastic presence in people’s lives is what they need most during this uncertain time.
Influencer marketing has been somewhat jaded in the past, but has made incredible strides towards growing up and becoming a legitimate practice. In uncharted waters such as this COVID-19 scenario, we expect to see relevant influencers and appropriate branded digital content becoming one of the most powerful tools that marketers have in terms of disseminating urgent information.
Mary Keane-Dawson is TAKUMI Group's CEO, as well as a digital expert, entrepreneur, and business mentor. She has held c-suite roles at WPP, Steak, Reform and Collective, she co-founded medical technology startup MyHealthPal as well as the women's networking franchise How She Made It. She is a Global Ambassador for the British Interactive Media Association, on the Board of London Tech Advocates and sits on the advisory board for the Internet Commission. As TAKUMI’s Group CEO, Mary is spearheading the company growth, focusing on the global expansion of TAKUMI into other markets.