Investing in Influencer marketing during COVID-19 is making brands jittery. Brands and organizations need to prioritize responsible outreach during these uncertain times, and one of the best ways of doing so is with influencer marketing. In the last couple of months, brands and marketing teams are having to completely rethink their 2020 plans while asking themselves relevant questions to this situation like:
- Should we continue our paid campaigns and collaborations?
- What are we allowed to talk about? Should we avoid posting about COVID-19?
- Should we even be posting at all?
- Is it wise to engage with influencers?
- What is the right way to do that?
- Should the brand post about COVID-19?
- How can the brand not come off as tone-deaf?
These questions are important to ask and even more crucial to answer as soon as possible. Because, for better or for worse, what your team does now will define your brand long after this pandemic passes. Here is our guide to influencer marketing during COVID-19.
Why influencers during this pandemic? Seeking authenticity
One of the main reasons why influencer marketing is so popular among the audience is the authenticity and reliability quotient of the content creator. Influencers are very vocal in recent times in terms of both good and bad reviews. Regardless of the amount of effort a brand puts in its traditional ads, influencers have the ability to tell your brand story in a way that truly resonates.
Audiences know when an influencer is genuine with their recommendations and this type of sponsored content serves to strengthen influencer credibility and impact. This is the perfect time for organic partnerships that make sense: multiple clothing brands have partnered with influencers to showcase mask making skills at home, coffee brands like Bru realized the potential of the Dalgonal viral craze and collaborated with influencers to make a campaign out of it. With the number of cooking posts constantly increasing by the day, multiple food platforms are joining hands with content creators.
What the brand has to be careful of – Avoid criticism and eye-rolling from your audience with inauthentic partnerships and direct sales collaboration.
Understand Influencer Data Trends – Now is a great time to leverage data from your influencer marketing platform to understand how your influencers are talking about COVID-19 and their “new normal”. How has content production changed? Who and what is earning engagement on social channels? You can also leverage data to find influencers who are creating the most engaging and creative content by searching for up-and-coming creators with super high engagement rates.
Choosing content – Providing value over advertising
The primary goal is that these campaigns can never be a capitalizing move. The ultimate goal of the collaboration is to provide value, send out the right message, and be thinking long term. Sales is a long term goal for your organization, but currently, posts should focus on proactive brand communications regarding Covid-19 safety measures. These do not have to be generic – this can also be related to your brand’s safety measures and changes in recent times.
The chocolate brand, 5 star, has taken a step ahead and created a challenge for its audience through multiple Instagram stand-up comedy influencers.
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Remember when we used to go party and dance all night without a care about the world? Hey, me neither! SO, for your next @cadbury5star_india challenge, stay home and throw yourself the most amazing party at home. Take the chance to show the world some of those dance moves you’ve been holding back. Dress up like you’re going to a party, enter your kitchen just like you’d enter a club and most importantly, DAAAANNNCEEE (but ideally better than I did) Extra points for creating a party like environment in your house and getting some of your friends to join the party from their home! Don't forget to use #5StarDoNothingOutside so we can see your posts! Go create, stay safe and do nothing outside. I nominate @uroojashfaq @melvinlouis @varunthakur to do this challenge!
Despite the fact that customers are now flooded with information about such messages, if your brand provides useful insight, the customer will appreciate the post. Beyond basic updates, ask yourself how your brand can best provide value right now, and who and which kind of possible customer can benefit from your products or services and ensure that the target is focussed. The lockdown has us all on social networks more than ever before. Your customers still want to be informed and entertained, but their needs have probably shifted. Your team should still be posting, but the content needs to be adapted to your consumers’ current needs.
A great idea would be to brainstorm with your team with some basic questions –
- Can your brand help people stay at home and be entertained?
- Does your brand align with public rules and can you offer valid help through deliveries?
- Consider different crowd – work from home employees, cooks
Asking the above questions will not only bring out endless possibilities for marketing but will also help research your customer’s basic needs. What is critical at this juncture is investing in the right kind of social campaigns by pivoting your strategy: this will help your brand maintaining brand affinity over time.
Thinking long term – investing in the right campaign
By investing in the right kind of social campaigns at this moment, you can help maintain brand affinity over time. While many industries are currently on hold (movie theaters, restaurants, travel destinations, theme parks, retail stores, gyms), they won’t be forever. Your influencers can help remind audiences that you’re still here, and there are many creative ways of keeping your brand top of mind without coming across as inconsiderate. Just offering minimal support to the audience can keep them happy.
— Amul.coop (@Amul_Coop) March 3, 2020
High profile influencers can be prone to scandal, simply by the nature of their public personas. Ideally, by taking time to evaluate influencer values, interests, and lifestyle choices prior to forming a partnership, brands can avoid being linked to influencer controversy—but there are always unexpected developments that can arise. Influencer content often provides a sense of escapism for scrolling social media users. Beautifully-curated images and videos can offer entertainment and reassurance, a respite from the endless onslaught of pandemic news and updates. While it’s okay to share lighthearted, aspirational content, it’s important to do so without coming across as insensitive.
Monitor for organic brand mentions and engage as often as possible. This is the perfect time to develop strong relationships with your advocates at every tier. Also, nurture your existing relationships with your influencer. If your brand is at a halt with campaigns, that doesn’t mean you cut off the influencer relationships as well. Use the time to reach out, ask how they are doing and see if there is anything you can do to support their content creation. This could spout new ideas for your brands
Hosting online Events with Influencers
For example, Cult.fit is hosting online workouts several times per day. Bon Appetit is filming cooking videos from inside their staff’s homes. Some beauty brands are connecting their founders and experts with influencers for virtual consultations. If possible, these should be shared afterwards on YouTube or IGTV, to make sure they are accessible for people living in every time zone.
Challenging times can bring out the best in brands. What ideas do you have for readjusting to influencer marketing collaborations right now? Do let us know below in the comments or visit our website, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages to reach out to us.