Influencer marketing, as an industry, underwent significant changes during COVID-19. Increase in audience engagement was followed by a steep fall in business. The shift in consumer’s online behaviour poses new challenges for influencers, which meant reinventing new strategies. Post-COVID influencer marketing is evolving towards an uncertain future but the opportunities it presents are equally crucial for businesses to flourish.
Impact & Challenges
Since the outbreak of Coronavirus, social and economic upheaval has turned lives sideways. While craving for a life outside the door during the lockdown, people turned to social media. It became the new living room for people. A whopping 80% increase in user engagement was seen during those few months. A positive change in the face of adversity pushed the content creators to experiment with their content to grow with the evolving content demands. However, a saturation point was inevitable due to a sudden influx of new influencers.
Due to this, people moved away from social media. They preferred time with family & friends or indulging in constructive hobbies. Considering the shifts in consumer behaviour, many brands limited their marketing activity. Due to lack of collaborations, and brand apprehensions caused by the pandemic affected, influencers were now left with an audience who were moving away from their content and money was not coming in either.
But soon, brands and influencers realized that the way forward is delivering quality. They switched their focus to initiating brand conversations among their audience, and who better to engage with them someone whom they have known for years. So, amidst this transition, influencer marketing, once again, became a key aspect for businesses. It was the optimum way to humanize a brand by creating conversations in a real-life context.
Shift in Strategies
The unprecedented situation made people care about where they spend their time and money. The focus shifted towards meaningful content that adds value to their lives or offers some productive amusements. This behavioural change mingled with the pandemic-induced economic disruption forced influencers to change their content creation strategies.
Listed below are some of the more commonly noticed changes:
User-centric stories promote conversations. Influencers are now focusing on creating engaging content. Instead of portraying the picture-perfect lives, they are showing how they are adapting to the 'new' world, at home. They are also highlighting how brands are playing a crucial role in this transition.
Through live sessions, influencers are displaying their raw, unedited lives to people. This kind of content is appealing, engaging, and gives a sneak into the lives of their favourite influencers.
Fashion, lifestyle & beauty influencers started creating Do It Yourself (DIY) content while travel influencers worked on creating lifestyle content to stay in touch with their creative side in need of the hour.
Alternate Revenue Streams
Several influencers switched to alternate revenue streams. Educational courses, paid consultations, live streams, among other things, to revamp their finances by adapting to the innovative entrepreneurial model.
The transformation from analogue to digital has turned everyone into consumers. Brands are focusing now on user engagement as it has become a must for businesses to thrive. Influencer marketing is no longer limited to brand promotions but extending its role as a leader in brand communication.
Influencers are new brand voices. Genuine conversations with the masses are essential for building consumer loyalty. Influencer-brand collaborations are turning into long-term relationships with brands moving towards in-house influencer campaigns.
Influencer marketing is shifting from a top-down to a more bottom-up approach. As brands are looking to communicate naturally, influencers will be holding an upper-hand in the content creation strategy. Storytelling will play a vital role, and the focus will be on creating quality content.
The future of influencer marketing looks optimistic in the post-COVID world. The change in the marketplace is going to open new possibilities for influencers which will redefine the industry. While the change is imminent, how brands utilize the influence of creators is yet to be seen.