Coronavirus has caused many people to take stock of what’s really important. It’s changed the way brands communicate, challenged consumption + put claims of purpose to the acid test.

So what does this mean for influencer marketing? 

Will it force through a new era of authenticity? Will paying influencers to post picture-perfect lifestyles alongside their brand of coffee become a marketing faux pas?

How can brands and influencers benefit from promoting philanthropy? 

Should you be scaling up your influencer campaigns + riding the e-commerce boom or scaling back as recession looms?

Or does history suggest that consumption and our relationship with brands + influencers will revert to type when we’re out the other side?

We let Adland Decide:

Ania Crisp, VP Marketing, Linkfluence:
“Influencer marketing lost its appeal even before the Covid-19 outbreak. The lack of original and relevant messages meant content had little impact on purchasing decisions. The virus has only highlighted that need for authenticity.

“As consumers self-isolate and obey the lockdown rules, they depend on the support and connection with their online communities. Shared values, beliefs and objectives mean members of the tribe (community) have much bigger influence over their peers than a blogger or celebrity with a big Instagram following. 

“Tribal marketing is about the quality of connections not quantity of an audience. This form of connecting with the audience will only continue to grow.”

Lisa Targett, UK General Manager, Tribe:
“If we strip away any preconceived ideas about ‘influencers’ or ‘influencer marketing’ and just look objectively at the channel, I think we can get a better read on the impact of coronavirus.

“Let’s look at demand: In the last three weeks, we’ve seen engagement rates & reach lift on Organic posts, as well as CPMs on social come down = quick math equals a huge opportunity where the eyeballs are: Social. 

“Do we supply enough volume & variety of creative to fill this inventory? 

“Well, with more time to spare & creative tools exploding with apps like TikTok – casual, freelance, gig-economy, furloughed workers are turning their energy to content creation. 

“The combination of these forces results in a greater representation of consumer voices in advertising & an explosion of creativity for those brands who are looking for alternatives to large-scale, remote, expensive production shoots. 

“It’s a bottom-up creative shake-up that I think will have lasting effects on advertising creative as we know it.”

Ben Jeffries, CEO, Influencer:
“Although the current situation appears bleak, I believe our industry will find unique opportunities once the Coronavirus crisis comes to an end. During this time, creators’ currency has increased, as consumer-led brands harness the power of social media to engage their target audience.

“Paired with the fact that consumers are relying on content creators to provide them with informative and motivational content, authenticity and trust between consumer and creators has been emphasized, and will continue to be the secret of success in the influencer marketing field, once the pandemic is over.”

Hannah Monds, MD – EMEA, Tagger Media:
“In times of crisis, people want to hear from entities they know, like, and trust. That’s a key point where the Covid-19 pandemic has really shone a light on how Influencer Marketing can help brands pivot messaging in a way that’s respectful.

“An influencer’s audience is much more likely to respond well to a message that comes from an account they’ve actively chosen to follow, rather than a faceless company. Moreover, as the world takes stock of what’s really important, it’s heartening to see how many influencers are using their public platform to connect with their audience in a meaningful way, with many contributing to charities and promoting social assistance programsmes.

“It indicates that brands that invest in consumer trust and loyalty now will be the ones who succeed later.

“Beyond sharing responsible messaging about the health crisis, Influencer Marketing is helping the economy. With a much lower cost for a much greater ROI, Influencer Marketing is an excellent opportunity for brands to grow their reach while being financially responsible. Brands who have been otherwise unable to invest budgets in OOH have looked to influencer marketing as a worthy alternative and are seeing the results.”

Mary Keane-Dawson, CEO, Takumi:
“Lockdown has made influencer marketing more important than ever. Behaviours have changed and consumers are heading to social media for escapism; influencers, marketers and brands can play their part by producing engaging, creative and informative content.

“With consumers increasingly going online, there are plenty of new opportunities to explore from supporting CSR initiatives to integrating in-app shopping functions. But it’s important to think carefully first before posting – pre-existing marketing plans can’t just continue as if COVID-19 doesn’t exist and content mustn’t appear opportunistic or tone deaf at such sensitive times. 

“Instead, creators are advised to use this lockdown as a chance to build consumer relationships and trust for the long-term by publishing fresh, relevant and considered content. In the new normal, influencers are the ‘In-Home Media’ creative solution we should be looking to.”

Jim Meadows, Co-founder, Commit:
“COVID brings about the rise of the creator and calls into question the ‘social’ influencer. Creators, who focus on discipline over audience, are spending their time upskilling with a focus on producing the best work they can.

“But, like influencers, they face the very real prospect of having to find viable alternative revenue streams – audience building being key. With a heightened creative output and a need to proactively grow their audience, Creators have the potential to flip the influencer archetype on its head – offering agency standard content and differentiation to reputable audiences.”

Matt Lewis, Head of Business Relationships, S3 Agency:
Every brand is different. Some simply don’t have a higher purpose and trying to attach themselves to one will always come across as inauthentic. They exist to sell products and that’s as far as it goes. For these brands not much will change.

“For those with a higher purpose, Corvid 19 has taught that authenticity is truly earned. Influencer marketing can remain an important part of their marketing strategy, but message and execution will be more important than ever. 

“With influencers typically perceived as the most inauthentic of channels – it will require marketeers to be the most diligent.”