The current pandemic has had a major impact on influencer marketing. Influencers, agencies and brands have needed to rapidly adapt to the ‘new normal’.
Physical restrictions because of the lockdown, coupled with brands reassessing their communications strategies have left influencers uncertain.
Unable to create content as normal, many have been denied steady work and have required new ways to leverage their influence.
An ever-adaptable bunch, Influencers have proven themselves flexible in the face of adversity. Here we explore some of the ways influencer marketing has been altered and our predictions for the future.
1. TikTok will rival Instagram
TikTok has skyrocketed in popularity during the pandemic. In March, it became the most downloaded non-game app with more than 115.2 million installations. This trend is apparent with influencers too, with thousands flocking to the app. With its substantial suite of editing tools and sizeable music library, TikTok is certainly a creative’s dream when it comes to creating unique content.
The shifting age demographic of the platform also brings new possibilities. Once hailed as for Gen Z only, millennials have surged with a 5% increase of 25-35-year-olds in Q1 2020. Many 30+ influencers such as Joe Wicks and Lily Pebbles have taken the plunge, bringing loyal communities with them. In a chicken-and-egg scenario, more brands are now considering influencer campaigns on TikTok due to an increasingly diverse user base.
Influencers will also likely become the sole representation of several brands on TikTok. At present, it remains a daunting prospect for many due to its preference for either relaxed, authentic content or highly sophisticated videos that spark immediate inspiration. Any mediocre content that resembles traditional advertising will not only flop, but also invites ridicule. Influencers offer brands a voice and access to a new audience, even if they cannot sustain their own account.
2. Influencers will become philanthropic and more selective
Influencers are likely to continue the current trend of supporting good causes, leading them to be more selective with collaborations long-term.
Over the last few months, many influencers have pivoted their content to be more helpful to the community. While thousands have promoted messages like #stayhome or #clapforcarers, others have undertaken full-blown charitable initiatives, such as Olivia Buckland, who recently donated 100% of her new In The Style Range to Age UK to support vulnerable elders in the current uncertain times.
The recent pandemic has left many influencers with an increased sense of responsibility and a fresh awareness of the impact they possess. With heightened audience reactions, both positive and negative, influencers will likely think more carefully about their future campaigns.
3. Influencers will become less aspirational
With the coronavirus pandemic reducing access to luxury experiences, many influencers have been forced many to go ‘back to their roots’, sharing more relatable content.
Early influencers (think Zoella) started life in the late 2000s and found fame by sharing simple content centred around everyday passions. With the creation of Instagram, Influencers became less relatable and instead offered a highly aspirational showreel. The last few months have provided new perspective, with content previously deemed inspiring now appearing vacuous. One influencer who has embraced this is Rosie - The Londoner, offering again the type of homespun content that made her famous such as recipes and reading lists.
Engagement for ‘unpolished’ content that is relatable, but also easy to replicate is at an all-time high. We predict that this ‘raw’ content will continue to be a major feature post-lockdown.
4. Micro influencers will reign supreme
Micro and nano influencers were already a rising trend in 2020 but Covid-19 may be the catalyst that offers them their moment. In these uncertain times, working with smaller influencers that have a more loyal, engaged follower base has become more attractive than ever to brands.
5. Celebrities will behave more like influencers
On the other end of the spectrum, celebrities have also changed their behaviour recently. With fewer possibilities available, many have started creating fun, silly content more in keeping with the style of smaller profiles. Major media personality Amanda Holden is an example, she’s been delighting her TikTok audience with an array of funny, relatable content during confinement. Coronavirus has perhaps been the great leveller, blurring the lines between celebrity and ordinary.
6. Influencers will have even greater impact
Influencer marketing has been thrown a curveball with Covid-19, but these troubled times have not diminished the importance of digital influence, if anything they have strengthened it.
With 47% of people spending longer on social media, influencers have seen an opportunity and seized it, amending their content to align more subtlety with their audience’s lives, experiences and aspirations. Influencer content has become more accessible and rooted in the everyday. With an entire world quickly and forcibly required to think digitally, we foresee that influencers will have more impact than ever once normality resumes.
Written by Hannah Page, digital communications consultant manager at communications agency JIN
If you enjoyed this article, you can subscribe for free to our twice weekly event and subscriber alerts.
Currently, every new subscriber will receive three of our favourite reports about the public relations sector.