Influencer marketing during Covid-19
Opinion

Is There Any Point In Influencer Marketing Right Now?

There are many mediums of marketing to now explore. Some will work for your brand, some won’t.

One modern option that still appears to be very prevalent in 2020, is influencer marketing. However, also in 2020 is the Covid19 pandemic that has quite literally flipped life as we know it on its head. Unfortunately, when having to tighten their belt a lot of brands will pull the plug on marketing as it’s an industry where results aren’t always instant. Personally, I think it’s a big mistake to stop communicating during Covid-19, but I mainly refer to PR and social media when I say that.

What about influencer marketing?

Is it still worth availing influencers to promote your product and brand during a time where most industries can’t even sell them?

How Influencer Marketing Has Changed Due To Covid-19

Yesterday, I was sent by the lovely people over at Vuelio, their annual UK Influencer Survey.

Full of insightful stats as it was, the thing I was most interested to read about was how the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the landscape of influencer marketing.

There’s no doubt that the Coronavirus outbreak has been catastrophic for our industry, influencer marketing is not excused from that. Many influencers, according to Vuelio, have felt some strain due to Covid-19. However, in other ways, the current climate has opened up new windows for them.

Using the information from the survey, and some research of my own, I’ve had a think about ways in which Covid-19 has affected influencer marketing.

TL;DR, it’s not all doom and gloom.

Negative Effects

Less opportunity for content – a lot of influencers rely on beautiful content to fill their feeds, especially for Instagram. When we’re having to ‘stay home’, the window of opportunity to create this content is very, very slim. Plus, a lot of influencers ‘influence’ their followers to travel to certain places, to buy certain products and even to avail certain services. For now, a lot of those industries have had to shut up shop – so there is much less to promote at the moment.

Travel is a no-go – travel restrictions, namely the inability to visit anywhere that isn’t a 10-minute drive from your home until recently, has made this very difficult. Not only this, but just under 15% of all influencers (according to Vuelio) operate within the travel niche. With strict bans and restrictions on exploring the country, much less the rest of the world, this has resulted in many commercial agreements being put on hold. Even producing non-sponsored content is very hard right now because of this.

Types of influencer marketing in 2020
Source: Vuelio UK Influencer Survey

Some industries have been hit hard – lockdown has seen some sectors suffer more than others. Travel, weddings and high-street retail are three areas of influencer marketing which are totally redundant right now – as these industries are pretty much entirely ‘closed for business’. If you’re a business operating within one of these areas, it’s important to communicate as much as you’re able (so your stakeholders are ready to be your consumers again once this comes to pass) but influencer marketing might not be the most effective avenue to explore right now, which is really unfortunate news for influencers in those areas.

Positive Outcomes

Opportunity to pivot content – it’s not all doom and gloom in the influencer marketing industry right now, and people are still interested in what influencers have to say. Meaning, there’s an opportunity to pivot strategies and produce content outside of the usual remit. Whilst we’re at home more, people are looking for inspirational things to do right now, whether that’s home reno, baking, DIY or crafts with the kids. If you’re a brand in one of those areas, there are still opportunities for you to work with influencers.

More people are spending time online – Following on from the above, Vuelio found that traffic to blogs and social media was largely on the up, likely down to people spending more time online throughout the day. Not only this, but recent stats have shown that social media usage, on the whole, has increased by around 70% since the UK went into lockdown. Most brands are pausing partnerships, but if you have a product that can still be sold during this pandemic, it’s well worth still considering influencers for your marketing right now.

Time to explore new platforms – More time in the house means more time to explore new types of social media. If there’s one thing all of us have right now, it’s time. TikTok, for example, has seen exponential growth that begun to peak when social distancing measures started to come into force. Will all this extra time at home give influencers the encouragement to test new ways of content creation? I recently wrote about TikTok influencer marketing, and I think that Covid-19 might really help this industry to take off, which is definitely a positive.

Wanderlust is real right now – I think pretty much allllllllllllll of us are dreaming of holidays and the nicer days to come. This isn’t the only thing we’re dreaming of too, it also includes things that we’ll be able to do again that we took for granted before (cough cough, like going to the pub). Just because influencers, mainly bloggers I refer to here, can’t create the relevant content right now, it doesn’t mean they can’t talk about it. Now’s a great time to explore angles such as armchair exploration, bucket lists and travel challenges if you’re an influencer (and if you’re a PR or brand, this is a nice way you can still work with and support influencers too).

Is There Any Point In Influencer Marketing Right Now?

So I’ve weighed up some ways that Covid-19 has affected the influencer marketing industry, both in negative and positive light. So knowing this, do I think there’s any point in keeping (or adding) this type of marketing to your strategy right now?

If you’re a brand that can still sell, and that can still appeal to people whilst in lockdown then yes. Make use of all this extra screentime and get some more eyeballs on your product with influencer marketing. For example, cleaning influencer Mrs. Hinch has been doing a lot of home reno during lockdown, and the products that she is using and tagging on her Instagram stories are still selling out in seconds (the Hinch Effect, I call it) – proving you can still sell.

However, if you’re currently unable to promote your products or services, then it’s unlikely influencer marketing would be able to do much for you right now. In that case, I would say no, now is not the time to be using influencers to get publicity for your brand. For example, with travel, influencer marketing works best when the individual can actually explore and then promote your service – whilst they can’t do that, there’s little effectiveness in working with influencers. Instead, you should focus on a long-lead PR and social media strategy. Keep communicating so you’re at the forefront of your competition for when you can begin trading again, but perhaps don’t avail such direct marketing strategies until you can actually sell.

Do you have any thoughts? Let me know on Twitter or in the comments below.

And remember, if you don’t want to miss a blog from me you can now sign up for email alerts every time I post (I’m also considering some form of newsletter, but I haven’t decided what that looks like just yet).

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