Why Influencer Marketing is More Critical Than Ever

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Over the past few weeks, an overwhelming number of businesses have had to lay off employees and shut their doors due to the pressures of COVID-19. In major city centres like Los Angeles, live events are speculated to be shut down until 2021. Brands are struggling to stay afloat with the dip in consumer spending while also scrambling to shift marketing dollars to areas where consumers can easily access them during the Stay At Home directive. With creative studios closed, the use of independent creators and social media have become one of the fastest ways for brands to pivot and roll out a successful marketing campaign.

The estimated Influencer Marketing Growth (year over year) has risen from $4.6B in 2018 to $6.5B in 2019 with a projected growth to $9.7B in 2020. There is no doubt that influencer marketing is an integral part of a brand’s communication strategy and this pandemic has only added to the category’s validation. During the pandemic, Shine’s exclusive talent pool of influencers have seen an average of 20% increase in content impressions, demonstrating, as a small sample, how consumers are seeking relatable examples of how to deal with their current situation and are interested in the products and services that can support them through this.

Whether it’s a lifestyle influencer who has gained their fame through social media or a celebrity/athlete who has notoriety both on and off-line, influencers give their audience a sense of comfort, providing a relatable component to their personal lives. This is the crux of why influencers have the power to motivate consumer decision making. When they endorse a product, their followers can see how it fits into their day-to-day life. It’s a verified review from someone they trust, versus a traditional ad.

Influencers aren’t only posting branded content. Their organic content is vital to their overall success, and they can adapt quickly, exposing how they too are coping with COVID-19. For example, Shine’s mom Instagrammers like @britt_horton and @rosiemaxhimer are creating content both on how they are keeping their little ones entertained while quarantined, while also sharing #realtalk about the days of PJ’s and lots of TV time, because that is just what they could manage. Some of Shine’s fitness talent, @aubrewinters, @beverlycheng, and @gainsbygaines are providing free at-home workouts, occasionally funded by a brand partner, that can be done with little to no equipment, but also speaking honestly about how they have been mentally and emotionally impacted. High performing influencers are developing even closer bonds with their followers by showing them that they are not alone in their fears and frustration about quarantine while also giving them the validation that it’s okay to still find joy in simple pleasures.

If brands have done their work and revised a strategy to come up with safe measures for products to be shipped and prepared, social influencers can do their part by communicating that to their audience. It’s seamless communication from brand to the consumer. Shine has seen a myriad of programs centered around self-care and mindfulness with meditation apps, and beauty products and online education for self-care and active minds. Healthy cooking and meal preparation programs have been working with social influencers to connect with their audiences, encouraging consumers to nourish themselves and share time over meals with family, whether in person or video chat. When tied with smart, conscious strategy, this is the time when influencer marketing can help a brand develop a deeper connection to its consumers, bypassing advertising speak, and communicating authentically about how their products and services are serving the community.

To set up for success and ensure brands are being socially conscious with influencer marketing during the COVID-19 Stay at Home directive, Shine recommends reviewing the following questions when developing your communications strategy:

  1. Has your brand gone through the necessary steps to ensure consumer safety in the preparation, delivery and recommended use of your product or service?
  2. If your product or service is not safe for consumer consumption, is there a core value of your brand that can be highlighted during this time through a charitable or educational affiliation?
  3. Is there an opportunity for a “give” within your campaign (i.e. through giveaways or free offerings) to further the goodwill of helping our people during this time?
  4. Are you aligning yourself with a skilled influencer who has a proven record of trustworthiness with their audience?
  5. Are you giving the influencer the freedom to deliver a truthful and relatable marketing message during the Stay at Home directive?

Influencers who are experts in this category know that truth sells, whether it’s during a pandemic or otherwise. Those who are honest about their experiences in both their organic and branded content are the ones who continue to grow and generate genuine consumer traction. The rules are the same. Know your brand; know what you can offer your consumer; and work with influencers who you trust to deliver your brand message in a way that will resonate with their audience.

To support Small Businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic, Shine Influencers has launched a $100K #ShineOnSmallBiz grant. Shine’s talent have come together to donate brand collaborations to generate awareness for up to ten small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19. The businesses selected will be awarded grants to be used on immediate strategy and influencer collaboration roll-outs.

To apply visit https://shinetalentgroup.com/shineonsmallbiz/ Deadline for application is April 24, 2020.

The views expressed by PulseBlueprint’s contributors may not align with PulseBlueprint’s own views or the views of any PulseBlueprint team member. Want to become a contributor? Apply here.