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January 30, 2024

The Role of Influencer Marketing in Times of Coronavirus

Influencer Marketing
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We’ve all seen it happen. A brand posts a well-meaning social media message during a time of crisis, and it completely backfires. Some of these stories, and the damage to their related brands, have been bad enough to make marketers consider swearing off campaigns for good during tough times, in order to avoid sticking their foot in their virtual mouth.

However, the impact of coronavirus has been a little different. While people are worried about the future, they’re also managing this fear during mandatory social distancing. This necessary isolation from friends, coworkers and extended family has caused many people to turn to social media for news, connection, and support. Several platforms have seen a significant spike in use and engagement, with TikTok engagement growing by 27% from February to March and Instagram impressions being boosted by more than 20%. What, then, is the best way to move forward as a marketer during the coronavirus pandemic? Retrieving is not the answer. Instead, show up but do so in a tasteful manner thinking about how you can be of service.

In times like these when people are turning to their phones more than ever, brands must look to not only nurture their existing social media community but also connect to new audiences. Now is the right time to actively engage and be present and influencers can be the ideal partners for brands to remain relevant and join the conversation in a conscious and responsible way.

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Consider your expertise and audience.

Take some time to think about your existing audience and what they depend on you for. Do they rely on you for news? Entertainment? Uplifting stories? Motivation? Use that lens to think about what content is worth creating and sharing during this time. During a time when the world is chaotic and people are uncertain about what’s to come, it can be refreshing for consumers to hear a voice of reason from a brand or influencer they trust. Chances are you’ve had to put your traditional content production schedule on hold, but your audience is still out there and eager to engage.

Tap influencers to help you produce quality content that you can then deliver through your brand’s owned and shared channels. If you’re in the wellness and fitness sector, for example, you may want to highlight ways that people can maintain part of their old routines by staying healthy and fit while away from the gym.

Share the helpers.

During times of difficulty, you’ve probably seen a social media image of Mr. Rogers, reminding people to look for the helpers - policemen, firefighters, first responders - who are caring for others. If you’re looking for the helpers, or better yet, being a helper, a crisis can allow you to demonstrate the value you provide, and to do it with integrity.One example of an unusual niche that has been active during this crisis has been the crafting arena. As crafters have committed their efforts toward creating masks to help combat shortages, they’ve secured additional attention; and companies, like fabric stores, have been able to highlight their brand’s authentic commitment to help by providing free supplies and online mask-making tutorials. Highlighting helpers, whether it’s help you’re providing or the efforts of others, can give you plenty of opportunities for inspirational and educational engagement. After all, plenty of people are looking for a way to feel better at the end of a rough day and sharing inspiring content can be a great way to build new connections.

Be authentic and utilize the opportunities at hand.

You never post or connect on social media in a vacuum. Instead of ignoring the wider world, be cognizant of the news cycle and focus even more earnestly on creating authentic, relevant content. Continue to engage with your audience but focus on resources that might be especially valuable for them. Is there a unique feature of your product or business that’s newly relevant because of social distancing? Is there a way you can provide relief or bring smiles to others? Can you make these products available to influencers to increase the reach of your helpful and useful content?

Don’t let discouragement over paused or canceled campaigns interfere with content creation.

Because many companies are dealing with economic uncertainty, marketers may see their budgets cut. That doesn’t mean it’s the right time to stop producing content, though. Rather, marketers should try to produce authentic, thoughtful content that takes advantage of the increased use of social media during social distancing. Video, direct messaging and community cultivation can all be experimented with during this time, as you seek to keep your audience engaged. People are eager to use this time to learn new things, experiment and just have their mind distracted from worrisome possibilities.

It’s true that we’re not sure when we’ll return to normal, or what the new normal might look like. However, as with most tough situations, now is a time for maturity, development and resilience. Influencer marketing can persevere through this situation as long as both marketers and influencers, their content and messaging is understanding and attuned to people’s current reality. And, once we’re past this difficult time, there will likely be a an even greater demand for influencers who’ve been able to maintain their connectivity, as brands and businesses look to emerge post-crisis by launching more ambitious campaigns and resuming their marketing activations.

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