The Impact of COVID-19 on Influencer Marketing
Like many industries, COVID-19 has made a strong impact on influencer marketing: campaigns are being paused and influencers are reducing rates.
But at the same time, engagement on sponsored content is increasing as Instagram usage has increased by over 40%.
Coronavirus has impacted every corner of our lives, and yet, with strength and resilience, businesses and influencers are looking to find a new normal amid the crisis.
We asked James Nord, founder of influencer marketing platform Fohr, to share his insights and data on how COVID-19 is affecting the influencer marketing industry, and how to build a strategy while the future is uncertain:
Influencer Marketing During COVID-19: How Audience Engagement Has Changed
We started to dig into how influencer marketing budgets could change and the potential challenges that influencers may face.
We also wanted to be prepared to support our audience in a sensitive marketing landscape and guide our community on identifying a brand tone in a time of crisis.
Our aim is to be able to provide as many useful insights as possible for our community, and we continue to share everything we know on our dedicated Understanding COVID-19 resource page.
As the likelihood of COVID-19 becoming a global pandemic became more likely, one thing we were prepared for was an increase in influencer marketing and digital marketing spend, as more and more people spend time on their phones instead of socializing in real life.
And part of this prediction has already come to fruition. Our research shows that the average screen time is up to 5h40m per day, an 18% increase from weeks prior.
We assume this will only continue to increase or at the very least stay the same, while we continue to socially distance ourselves from the non-digital world.
For brands, all is not lost when it comes to audience engagement.
As more and more people turn to e-commerce, there is an opportunity to put out impactful messaging that will nurture your current customers and provide value to them during these completely unforeseen circumstances.
When we analyzed influencers’ patterns, we noted that because screen time is increasing, so is the standard of content.
A big learning for us has been that the more time people are spending consuming content, the more time they are spending monitoring said content. Mistakes seem more egregious than they did pre-COVID-19 and striking the correct tone in your visuals and captions is vital.
View this post on Instagram
LET’S GET PHYSICAL 💪🏃♀️🏋🏼♀️ #ad Spending so much time at home and indoors, it’s more important than ever to move our bodies and keep them healthy when we’re feeling well! For me, putting on a cute workout outfit like this little number from @underarmour @underarmourwomen from @kohls can give me the motivation I need and brighten my mood. 💁♀️ ⠀ Whether you’ve got a hiking spot nearby 🏔 take a walk 🏃♀️ through the neighborhood or do yoga 🧘♀️ or lift weights 🏋🏼♀️ indoors or out (I love to workout in my yard and get some sun ☀️ and fresh air!) please take this time to practice self care and keep to a wellness routine! ⠀ I’ll be sharing some resources and ideas on my stories today, and if you’re looking for some stylish new workout gear up in sizes 1x-3x look no further than @kohls! You can save through 3/22 with their Women’s Spring Style Event! 🛍 ⠀ #Kohls #KohlsFinds #UnderArmour #UnderArmourWomen
Followers are paying attention to this new era of content creation, with nearly 80% of influencers reporting higher engagement from their followers.
What followers are looking for right now are friends and familiar faces that they trust and who symbolize a sense of normalcy from a time before this global pandemic.
The opportunity here is to engage audiences with content that is hyper-aware of and sensitive to its surroundings. People are much more likely to engage with content that is authentic and tasteful, than that which is ignorant of extenuating circumstances.
If you’re struggling to know what to post right now, find your niche and voice in this situation.
Speak about the current climate in a way that shows your audience you are engaged and dedicated to being part of the solution, rather than the problem.
For example, Chriselle Lim has been sharing the realities of their family trying to work from home while also taking care of two young children at home. Her captions are real and relatable, while also offering a few tips that have helped their family.
View this post on Instagram
My work from home situation ✨ I take my important conference calls here in my bathroom. My makeshift office is too close to the girls’ play area and if they hear me they will all of a sudden NEED me. This is my new WFH reality. ⠀ ⠀ I’m used to getting ALOT done IN A GIVEN DAY, but man…. this new reality of homeschooling a kid whilst entertaining a toddler whilst trying to meet deadlines… is.. REALLY. FREAKING. CHALLENGING. The first two weeks of quarantine life I didn’t change my mentality or expectations of the things I needed to get done. I ended up becoming SUPER frustrated. But this week I’m giving myself two days to accomplish what I’d like to do in one day… and I already feel better.⠀ ⠀ Few things that have also helped me out with this new schedule: ⠀ 1. Creating a schedule for the kids so they know what to expect during the day⠀ 2. Communicating with my partner and taking shifts with the kids ( we like to do 1-2 hour increments) all dependent on scheduled calls ⠀ 3. And accepting that more screen time is ok. Any other parents struggling like me here? Let me know if you guys have any tips and what has been working for you. Also follow @bumoparent as we are starting a WFH series sharing with you how other parents are handling this or not handling this! 😭🙏🏻🙌🏻 #quarantinelife #workfromhomewithkids
This content is paired alongside her sponsored content, which she continues to post, but in a thoughtful manner that doesn’t ignore the new normal for many people:
View this post on Instagram
When life gives you lemons.. make lemonade! 🍋🍋🍋 Making the most of my time here at home! Got all dressed up to go lemon picking in our backyard in my new @stuartweitzman heels. These are 2 things I definitely took for granted and I never will again – my fruit trees in my backyard and the opportunity to throw on cute shoes to go run some errands! #jimena #swstayhome #swwomen Also wanted to shine a light on the amazing work @stuartweitzman is part of with Tapestry, a New York-based house of brands. I’m honored more than ever to be partnering with SW, especially now that Tapestry just announced through the Coach Foundation, is supporting NY by committing $2 million to NY city’s Small Business Continuity Fund for businesses affected by COVID-19. This support will go towards small businesses, including restaurants, day care centers, coffee shops and more! NY, I’m with you, I love you.
We discussed influencer and brand challenges (and how to overcome them) in our first-ever digital summit: The State of Influence During COVID-19.
In conversation with Grace Atwood, Chriselle Lim, Reesa Lake, and Matthew Kobach, we heard from influencers, brand, and agency perspectives — shedding light on the challenges that each group is facing and best practices for how to cope moving forward.
You can watch the replay here:
Influencer Marketing During COVID-19: The Impact on Marketing Budgets
A second scenario that we prepared for was marketing budgets, in general, being tightened exponentially, with every dollar spent being much more scrutinized.
This is definitely true. As companies make cuts in drastic ways in order to ensure their survival, influencers, in general, are reducing their rates in order to continue getting business.
We sent out a survey to influencers in our community and collected 500 responses on their practices during COVID-19. Our results found that over 40% of influencers currently are reducing their normal rates, and the reductions average at 30%.
Influencers, you have an opportunity here to think of your most admired brands and reach out to them to see how you can help.
If you’re reducing your rates and getting creative with production, chances are, brands are doing the same. Who do you want to work with? Do you have ideas on how you can help them market? Now’s the time to get in touch.
Influencer Marketing During COVID-19: How to Plan for the Future
We also thought about future challenges that would be presented to certain influencers — specifically, those that rely heavily on travel for their campaigns, as well as intricate photography shoots that require sets, locations, and (of course) being outside of one’s home.
This has started to ring true, as the same survey above revealed that 20% of influencers have had 100% of their campaigns paused or put on hold until further notice.
Fortunately, very few campaigns are getting fully canceled, but there will definitely be a lull in a larger scale, travel-heavy campaigns until the world edges back to normal.
So What Can Be Done to Shoulder These Challenging Times?
Thankfully, brands, businesses, and influencers have risen to the challenge and have found ways to support each other, whether through useful COVID-19 resource pages, financial relief programs or aid, or simply continuing to engage and support on social media.
If you’re an influencer who has had your campaigns put on hold, it’s time to start thinking about creative ways to keep up your sponsored content.
Are there brands you’ve always wanted to partner with but never have? Reach out to them, offer to participate in a (remote) gifting or a free post.
Many brands are in need of content creators that can work outside a traditional, commercial/editorial scope and would greatly benefit from one-stop-shop advertisers such as influencers.
If you’re a brand, start to think outside the box of who best represents your mission, vision, and values during this time.
With applications extended to accommodate COVID-19, the brand is seeking a new crew of “unique, unfiltered, sorry-not-sorry storytellers with a diverse range of followers, points of view, and interests.”
Search for the content creators that are true ambassadors for your brand — not necessarily those with the largest following, but those with the most personal connection to your product and service who will be able to be your brand voice for the millions of eyes and ears that are on social media right now.
To help you, Fohr is giving free access to our influencer platform to any brand. What we can offer is what we do best, connecting brands to influencers and creating community — even in the most trying times.
View this post on Instagram
A letter from the (remote) desk of our CEO, James Nord.⠀ ⠀ We asked ourselves, as a company, the same question that is on everyone’s mind during a global pandemic: what can we do? ⠀ ⠀ We’ve come up with a start: for the next month Fohr is giving free access to our influencer platform to any brand. What we can offer is what we do best, connecting brands to influencers and creating community – even in the most trying times. ⠀ ⠀ We hope this helps, and we will continue to look for ways to contribute until we all make it out of this together. ⠀ ⠀ Head to the #linkinbio to redeem a free month of Fohr.
Many audiences are relying on influencers for both their sponsored and non-sponsored content. There’s value in both the escapism aspect — being able to distance oneself from the news and buy a new hydrating sheet mask — as well as the authentic, transparent posts from influencers about how they are coping with the situation and assuring their followers that they aren’t alone.
Right now, social media is a time for community, not competition. The influencers that are tapping into that are finding a way to keep their followers more engaged and use Instagram as a uniting, connecting, force for good.
Many predictions that we made have yet to be expanded upon, but we are committed to continue monitoring the situation and providing our community with the best insights that we can.
Knowledge share is more important than ever in unprecedented times, and we will make it out only by working hard and working together.
Looking for tips on how to communicate on social media during Covid-19? Read our blog post here next, or sign up to our newsletter to stay up-to-date: