image ofInfluencer Marketing During the Pandemic

COVID-19 Age: How Influencer Marketing Changed During The Pandemic

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The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of people’s lives. Businesses have screeched to a halt, and many workers have been laid off. The forecast for the economy isn’t particularly promising, with many predicting a recession or a financial crisis after this year. However, one surprising thing that has emerged is that influencers are still relevant in these trying times. But it takes skill and adjustment to make it work, considering how much the influencer marketing economy has changed. Change is the name of the game if you’re an influencer. It’s a great equalizer among creators, and all good influencers have to change to stay relevant. This brings us to our topic today—how influencer marketing is changing in the time of a pandemic.

Who Is An Influencer?

woman taking a picture of food
Influencers should be careful in how they use their power.
The term influencer has been around for quite some time. It was added to the dictionary recently, around 2018 or 2019. But the concept of influencer marketing has been around much longer than that. An influencer is someone who can use his/her influence to persuade people to support a product or a business—heck, even a lifestyle. The main difference between traditional and modern influencer marketing concepts is that the influencer economy has opened up in an unprecedented way. Any person can start a vlog or social media account and gain followers. There’s no need to appear on TV or build up a massive reputation to achieve success. There’s ongoing democratization in the influencer economy, where influencers have become more powerful than ever. They no longer have to rely on powerful producers or backers to ensure their personal brand’s constant success. These days, it seems like all it takes is charisma and excellent video editing skills.

The Pandemic

Graph on active marketing campaigns from March to April 2020
Source: Casting Asia
Covid-19 first reared its ugly head around December 2019, when a mysterious flu-like illness began showing up in patients in China. It was initially thought of as an offshoot of the flu and was perceived to have been contained by the Chinese authorities at the time. However, the virus easily spread, and by March of 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the existence of a pandemic. The most competent world leaders’ reaction was to shut down crowded areas until authorities could find better solutions and an effective vaccine. This involved extended periods of quarantine, with some stricter than others. People were told to stay at home and avoid contact with one other. Crowded places were closed down. Of course, the result of this is that people have had to find their entertainment somewhere else. It’s no surprise that during quarantine, there was an uptick in online shopping and online dating. Video views have also gone up for online vloggers. Simply put, the coronavirus has given birth to a new breed of influencers—the quarantine influencers.

How Do I Become An Influencer?

Man who just got an idea
Becoming an influencer starts with a vision—a dream to persuade people without using false advertising.
There are many ways you can become an influencer. You might be asking yourself, how can I become a social media influencer? Some people just seem to have the “it” factor and may accidentally find fame. Others become influencers because of their expertise on a particular topic or subject. The fact that there are so many ways to go about this shouldn’t discourage you but should encourage you instead. The question "Are influencers still relevant is a no-brainer. With influencers becoming more relevant than ever in this time of the pandemic, there’s no better time to start. The first thing to do is to find a niche. What are you passionate about? Ask yourself, why do influencers matter? Having a niche is important because you’ll know how you should build your brand. You can’t be an expert on everything. Find your passion and focus on it. The next thing would be to choose a platform. It might be tempting to create accounts for every social media site but stop. You can’t do that as that’s not smart marketing. It’s far better to find a platform with many like-minded users. For example, it won’t make sense to start a singing channel on Instagram, right?

Content Is King in Influencer Marketing

The most important thing for an influencer is to have good content. The definition of good content may vary from one influencer to another. The trend with influencer marketing during lockdown is leaning heavily towards so-called "useful" content. These usually refer to a wide variety of stuff. Below are the three influencer marketing content that boomed during the quarantine.

Health and Fitness

Home workouts influencers have seen an uptick in their followers and engagements after the quarantine enforcement. It was a natural sequence of things since most gyms were closed at the time.

Cooking and Home Lifestyle

Content regarding cooking also became viral since many people were constrained to cook at home. The one surprising thing about cooking content is that it’s very pervasive among several platforms. It used to be that YouTube reigned supreme when it came to these kinds of content, but Facebook, Instagram, and even TikTok have seen an increase in content relating to food and cooking. The videos usually don’t follow the traditional cooking style shows on YouTube, preferring short clips with basic instructions. However, these proved extremely popular, especially among users who are tired of "traditional" cooking shows.

Funny Posts and Videos

Funny content is also a good idea. This encompasses an exceedingly wide range of content, from comics to memes. The average social media user is a voracious consumer of funny content. There’s an ever-present need for new comical posts, so you’ll always have an audience. It’s also a good idea for artists who may be struggling to find a freelance job or even casual hobbyists. Like food content, funny posts are also pervasive across many social media platforms, so you have a wide variety of choices. Find your funny bone, and your audience will come flocking.

Influencers During the Pandemic

people wearing protection against COVID-19
Influencers are adapting to the changes brought by the global turmoil, and not letting it stop their creativity.
The pandemic has changed the rules of the game for influencers, so to speak. Before COVID-19, the trend for influencers has been tight editing and well-scripted shows. It was a formula that worked well, especially in a culture that values perfection and excellent performance. However, the pandemic has upended this culture. Without the necessary staff to help them craft their brands, influencers had to make do. These days, the emerging trend is the so-called "raw" influencers, where shows are less scripted (or not scripted at all), and they feature little to no editing. For one, Facebook Live has given its users the ability to set up a show at the slightest touch. It also has the added option of allowing users to interact with their fans and engage them through comments. This was a feature previously unheard of in other platforms and has brought new life to influencer marketing. There’s also the added fact that Facebook’s algorithm is designed to prefer live videos over other posts, and influencers are taking advantage of that. During the pandemic’s height, many influencers resorted to Facebook Live to keep their personal brand afloat and engage with their Facebook followers. Moreover, Instagram during pandemic has also leveled up. With an increasing number of users every day, the platform has added features that are helpful to influencer marketing, such as Instagram shopping and reels.

Influencer Marketing and eCommerce

Online shopping using a smartphone
Ecommerce has also been affected by the pandemic but influencers have managed to keep it mainstream.
The COVID-19 age has brought along a unique position in the eCommerce industry. With people’s mobility severely restricted, many folks turned to online shopping as a way of coping and getting the supplies they need. Online businesses reported an astounding level of orders, especially during the first few weeks of quarantine. On the other hand, influencers have lost many sponsorship deals during the quarantine period, especially from traditional brands with brick and mortar stores. The creators who relied on public events were particularly struck by this, seeing their income source slowly dwindle. However, these factors’ confluence has led to a collaboration that many did not see coming between eCommerce and influencers. Ecommerce with lower marketing budgets have begun to seek out influencers to peddle and promote their products. And another interesting trend has also popped up. These days, the focus on influencer marketing has gradually moved away from just advertising one particular product. Instead, many influencers prefer to promote the brand as a whole. Think of how many influencers you see promoting organic or ethical brands. Examine their posts closely, and you’ll see that they’re not really promoting just one particular product; they’re promoting the brand itself. This is an entirely new way of approaching influencer marketing, and budding influencers should notice this.

Pandemic's effect on travel and tourism

Influencers promoting tourism and travel have been particularly hit hard by the pandemic. Unlike other industries, tourism and travel are among the most severely restricted by governmental regulations to contain the pandemic. Most international travels have been canceled or limited, and traveling for leisure has become a moot idea for the past months. The industry is slowly rebounding and adjusting to the so-called new normal, but there’s no telling what the future holds for travel content creators. If you’re a new influencer looking for a niche, then we recommend staying away from travel, at least until conditions have stabilized.

Learning From Influencer Marketing Pros

Who are the best social media influencers these days? And whose name comes to your mind when you hear the term best social media influencer? It’s important because this tells you a lot about the kind of influencer you want to be. If you admire someone, chances are you want to be like them. As a budding influencer, it would be a good idea to examine how the best social media influencers go about their business. You can even utilize some of their strategies for your own. We’ve compiled a shortlist for your perusal—mostly Instagram influencers.

Kendall Jenner

The scion of the influential Kardashian-Jenner family is perhaps one of the most well-known influencers of all. Kendall Jenner wields immense influence in fashion, being a model herself. She boasts more than 100 million followers on Instagram. Kendall is quite exacting in her taste when it comes to paid promotions. We’re not surprised if she got this from her momager, Kris Jenner. Perhaps the lesson here is, have a mentor you can rely on.

James Charles

James Charles is one of the most influential creators these days. What’s unique about him is that he has his own style and he’s consistent with it. Charles also seemingly has the gift of capitalizing on success and leveraging it for more success with a make-up line built on his brand alone. Aside from this, Charles also regularly partners with travel destinations to promote them. You see, the ultimate secret is to find your niche and stick to it.

Cristiano Ronaldo

The incredibly-handsome athlete is not only successful in sports, but he’s also a very popular endorser. Ronaldo started out the traditional way with TV ads and paid promotions, but he also branched out into newer platforms like Instagram. If his success is anything to go with, it’s clear that an influencer must adapt to be successful.

Beyonce

Queen Bey got her start in a girl group and then branched out to pop. She’s been riding high on success ever since. Not only has she managed to keep up her singing career, but she also branched out into other platforms, which increased her influence. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Just because you’ve already found your niche doesn’t mean that you should stop trying to improve yourself. Don’t take it from us—learn from Queen Bey herself!

Influencers Learn to Adapt

There are many predictions that the pandemic signaled the end of the influencer era. However, these predictions have yet to come true. Granted, it’s a trying time for influencers, as it is for everyone. With businesses coming to a standstill, it’s no surprise that paid promotions aren’t really high on everyone’s list right now. Still, influencers continue to surprise people by adapting and making the best of the situation. If anything, perhaps this pandemic is showing us that this is not the end but rather the start of a new era. If you’re interested in becoming an influencer, there's no better time like the present. Now, for business owners out there, you can check out our “Ultimate Guide to Growing Your Business With Influencer Marketing” to make the most out of these challenging times.
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