In the spring of 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the United States, influencers saw brands slash their influencer marketing budgets. Many campaigns were cancelled or pushed back, with 1 in 4 influencers reporting that they had been offered fewer collaborations. However, as 2020 has progressed, influencers are beginning to see a slight resurgence in brand deals and spending on influencer marketing. Brands have started working to determine what influencer marketing will look like as we move towards a “post-pandemic” world that will likely continue to be impacted by the effects of COVID-19 for a long time. Overall, the future of influencer marketing looks bright. Here are a few reasons why.
Online engagement increase
While consumer spending may have decreased during the onset of the pandemic, time spent online and interactions with influencers have increased. This uptick in social media usage bodes well for the future of influencer marketing, as it gives influencers the opportunity to keep new audiences engaged over a long period of time. These new larger audiences also give brands an opportunity to gain more brand visibility when partnering with influencers.
Influencers have become more “relatable”
Pre-pandemic, many influencers led luxurious lives. Photos of vacations in exotic destinations, expensive meals and high end fashion items made up the feeds of prominent influencers. A common criticism of influencer marketing was that influencers had become unrelatable, and therefore had less ability to reach the target markets of many companies. As a result of limited travel and more conscious spending brought on by COVID-19, many influencers have returned to the kind of relatable content that launched the first generation of digital stars—a trend that is likely to continue post-pandemic. Engagement for less polished content is at a high, making the post-pandemic period a perfect time for brands to partner with influencers.
Consumers are looking for advice
With the dangers of shopping in stores still very present, many consumers are looking to influencers for advice on what products to purchase. Spending more time at home has also allowed many influencers to expand their reach—branching out to promote different types of products, such as meal-kit delivery services, that are more applicable to their daily lives in a post-COVID world. Influencers provide a way for brands to promote their products like a friend would. Instead of physically going to a store and browsing, consumers can trust an influencer’s opinion and purchase a product based on their recommendation. Consumers get the satisfaction of having found the best product, without having to go shopping in person.
Traditional advertising methods have been impacted by COVID-19
With consumers spending more time at home than ever before and no clear end to all social restrictions, traditional methods of advertising like large billboards on public transportation may be less effective than in years past. Even things like TV commercials are in question, as new episodes of cult-favorite series and some live sports are put on hold. Instead of investing in these possibly risky methods of advertising, brands can invest their marketing budgets in influencers whose audiences continue to grow. Social media has cemented itself as a staple in the daily lives of many Americans during this pandemic.
Influencers have the ability to pivot as needed
With the pandemic constantly changing social guidelines and consumer spending, it is an advantage that influencers generally require a shorter window to create content than big advertisements like commercials. Content that is utilitarian, relatable, and entertaining is the key to marketing in a post-pandemic world, however, what constitutes this type of content is constantly changing. Influencers have shorter turnaround times than some marketing options, and can therefore help brands create timely promotional content.
As we begin to move towards a post-pandemic future, brands should be aware that their content should reflect the long-lasting effects we will likely feel from COVID-19. It seems likely that influencer marketing will prove valuable in this post-COVID world, and may provide brands with more return on investment than ever before. Influencer marketing will need to adapt as our world continues to change rapidly. Luckily, the flexibility of online platforms allows for easier modification.
How do you think influencer marketing will look in a post-pandemic world?