With social media use on the rise, how has influencer marketing grown with it?
The restrictions associated with COVID-19 mean that social media usage has been on the rise.
During all of this uncertainty, more people have been turning to social media, and in particular influencers, not only as a welcome distraction from what’s going on in the world, but also in hopes of finding motivation, comfort and support.
And recent data supports this, with Gleam Solutions reporting a 35-60% rise in internet traffic during the course of the lockdown, as well as a 300% increase in Instagram Live usage. What’s more, a recent study from Obviously showed a 76% increase in likes on Instagram ‘#ad’ posts during the first few weeks of the pandemic, as well as a 27% jump in engagement on TikTok.
Alongside this increased use of social media, many influencers have reported higher engagement levels, as well as an increase in their follower numbers. The current conditions, with audiences being more engaged with social media, as well as the easing of lockdown restrictions enabling consumers to again wield their purchasing power, mean that there is no better time for businesses to incorporate influencers into their marketing strategies.
Companies such as Nike have already made the most of the opportunities made available due to COVID-19, for example, with their ‘Play for the World’ campaign, which encouraged brand ambassadors and athletes to show their followers how they’ve continued to stay fit during lockdown. This helped them to continue to engage with their audiences at a time when the brand’s sponsors would otherwise be out of the public eye.
The benefits of using influencers post-COVID-19
Pre-pandemic, influencer marketing was already very advantageous, which we know from our experience of working with Newmarket Racecourse and influencers. If anything, COVID-19 has only served to compound these advantages.
But what are they?
Beat media fatigue
During the pandemic, there has been a certain degree of media fatigue. Audiences have expressed frustration at advertisers overusing phrases such as ‘the new normal’ and ‘these unprecedented times’. Brands all seemed to be saying the same thing, in turn making their messaging feel inauthentic.
It can be difficult to cut through the noise when it comes to traditional advertising, so using influencer marketing to promote a business can help to better reach audiences with genuine messages.
Communicating through influencers can also provide a quick, crowd-sourced insight, allowing the business to see how audiences feel about the brand at that given moment, through analysing their social media comments and engagements. The insight gathered can help to generate innovative and original ideas that can be used to make your brand stand out from the crowd, combatting this sense of media fatigue.
As well as using well-known influencers, using nano- or micro-influencers (those with less than 10,000 or 50,000 followers) can also help to build trust with an audience. Influencers with smaller follower numbers tend to be closer to the audiences that a business may want to reach, which in turn can make them appear more relatable and trustworthy. This means that their audience is more likely to listen and take action should the influencer make a recommendation.
These influencers are also being seen as increasingly reliable as followers interact with them on a daily basis due to their increased social media use, making influencer marketing the obvious choice for brands looking to communicate to audiences in a clear and authentic way.
Due to COVID-19, there is naturally more nervousness around spending money, so it’s even more important than usual that consumers feel as though their money is being spent on a product or service that serves them well.
Another impact of COVID-19 is that many businesses might be cash short, with their operations being hindered due to restrictions, so they are looking at ways to save money – including on their marketing.
Influencer marketing can be a relatively low-cost option, which also allows brands to communicate with their audiences quickly and effectively.
The market is also diversifying, social media influencers now sit across many sectors, from tech and beauty to fitness and education, which makes it easier than ever to choose influencers whose content feels like an authentic fit with any marketing strategy.
While influencer marketing shouldn’t be used as a catch-all, it provides brands with a key opportunity to create trust and lasting emotional bonds between themselves and their consumers, at a time when that reassurance is needed the most.