For companies who are doing their best to stay afloat during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, it’s more important than ever to connect with consumers — but nobody wants to see tone-deaf advertising right now, or messaging that’s downright inappropriate for a global pandemic. Brands and organizations need to prioritize responsible outreach during uncertain times, and one of the best ways of doing so is with influencer marketing. In the age of Covid-19, influencer marketing is not only a fast and effective way of reaching target audiences, many consumers believe brands can help with navigating this crisis.
Businesses and citizens are facing increasingly challenging situations as nearly everyone’s lifestyle has been impacted, and as each day passes, we’re all struggling to cope with mounting anxieties and financial concerns.
Not surprisingly, in-home data usage has increased by 47 percent over last year, thanks to social distancing restrictions, and media consumption of all kinds has been on the rise. From seeking out pandemic updates online to pursuing various forms of entertainment from music to memes, this amplified demand means that brands have more opportunities than ever before to engage with audiences.
Obviously, influencer campaigns should not be about capitalizing on a crisis — the goal is to provide value, deliver relevant messaging, and forge connections.
With the right planning and execution, influencers are the ideal partners for the kind of tactful, empathetic, and mindful marketing programs that can help businesses and consumers alike during this particular cultural moment.
Tips for Successful Influencer Marketing During Covid-19
Influencer marketing strategy: Prioritize Information & Value
This is a time for proactive brand communications regarding the Covid-19 safety measures your business may be taking, or related updates such as store closures or policy changes. However, keep in mind that many consumers are being inundated with these messages, so make sure yours includes useful information that helps (rather than adding to unwanted noise with spammy emails).
Beyond basic updates, ask yourself how your brand can best provide value right now, and who can benefit from your products or services. If you’re asking for people’s attention during a stressful time, you need to be able to say how you can support their lives.
Some possibilities to consider:
- How can your brand help people stay entertained or productive at home?
- Do you offer online purchase and/or delivery services for those in quarantine?
- Does your brand help people who are suddenly working remotely?
- Can your brand help drive inspiration or keep spirits lifted?
- What are your customer’s biggest needs right now, and how can you pivot to help?
Influencer Marketing content needs to Be Authentic
Influencers have the ability to tell your brand story in a way that truly resonates, as long as there is authenticity behind their words and images. Audiences know when an influencer is genuine with their recommendations, and this type of sponsored content serves to strengthen influencer credibility and impact.
When the opposite is true, and influencer content is nothing more than a lackluster repost of brand party lines, audiences lose interest, and trust is eroded.
This is a time for organic partnerships that make sense: fabric brands partnering with crafters to showcase mask-making instructions, home improvement stores working with DIY enthusiasts to share home-based projects, recipe bloggers showcasing grocery-stretching meal creations that incorporate food brands, and so on.
Influencer marketing works because of the social currency they’ve built with their audience. They have the ability to deliver the kind of word-of-mouth promotions that greatly outperform traditional ads. In order to avoid triggering skepticism instead of positive audience receptions, brands need to steer clear of inauthentic partnerships and inflexible creative prompts.
Strike the Right Tone
In the best of times, it can be tricky to navigate tone in marketing: some consumers respond well to humor and playfulness, some prefer a more formal or professional voice. In this moment, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid being overly casual or snarky.
This isn’t to say there is no place for lightness or positivity! Influencers who can bring uplifting content to their audiences during these anxious times are likely to be well-received, but out-of-touch messaging will be perceived as dismissive of the current social context.
Influencer content often provides a sense of escapism for scrolling social media users. Beautifully-curated images and videos can offer entertainment and reassurance, a respite from the endless onslaught of pandemic news and updates. While it’s okay to share lighthearted, aspirational content, it’s important to do so without coming across as insensitive.
We recommend messaging that is empathetic, and focuses on contribution rather than conversion. In other words, don’t restrict your campaign focus to getting a sale — think of the bigger picture. How can you help audiences feel more connected, or better cope with social distancing challenges? Can you highlight ways to help, while showcasing the human side of your business?
Influencer campaigns should always avoid tacky, cash-grab sponsorships, but now more than ever it’s critical to show audiences that you are in tune with their needs.
Tap Influencers for Compelling Content Creation
Brands don’t have to run a full-fledged influencer campaign to reap the benefits of their amazing content creation skills. At Sway, we launched our Social Content Studio to bring clients the option of securing compelling brand-owned influencer-driven content, without the overhead of a creative agency.
Influencers are the ideal solution for brands who need relatable, eye-catching content right now for social posts, web updates, marketing communications, and more. Not only do influencers typically offer faster turnarounds and lower costs, but in a time when social distancing is required they can produce digital media on their own.
Many traditional content creation avenues are unavailable or on delayed schedules right now, with teams unable to get together and onsite photo/video shoots on hold. For brands who need creative assets quickly, from images to video to copywriting, it’s the perfect time to pivot to influencer-developed content.
Remind Audiences That Your Brand Is Here for the Long Haul
By investing in the right kind of social campaigns in this moment, you can help maintain brand affinity over time. While many industries are currently on hold — movie theaters, restaurants, travel destinations, theme parks, retail stores, etc — they won’t be forever. Influencers can help remind audiences that you’re still here, and there are many creative ways of keeping your brand top of mind without coming across as inconsiderate.
Consider the delightful Getty Museum challenge, or the home-created Disney rides. From artistic expressions that inspire and educate to brand outreach that gets it exactly right, there are plenty of fantastic examples of how digital content can best be used right now to entertain, inform, and offer support.
Finally, as you embrace new communications principles, remember that it’s important to constantly reassess campaigns and creative content. What works today may not work tomorrow; as news and market dynamics continue to change, so too must brands and influencers.
On a personal note, we hope you are staying safe and well. More than ever, Sway Group is committed to our employees, our influencers, and our clients, and we’re working hard to be a helpful resource to our community and our industry.