With the ongoing spread of COVID-19 and the incredible speed at which things are developing, marketers must help brands communicate clearly and with purpose. How can influencer marketing agencies help brands navigate the challenges that have emerged in the wake of this constantly-changing situation, in ways that provide real value and establish long-lasting connections?
COVID-19 Self-Distancing: Social Media Consumption on the Rise
Despite being present in the news since late 2019, COVID-19 truly made waves online in late February when cases began hitting the US. In just the past month, COVID-19 has generated a tremendous amount of online activity centered around social media.
- On Instagram, the #coronavirus has accumulated over 5.8 million mentions to date.
- #Coronavirus is now the second most used hashtag of 2020, generating a related Tweet every 42 milliseconds.
- Twitch viewership has reportedly seen its viewership double, building on the already growing streaming trend.
People Seeking Trusted Information Turn to Social Media
In times of crisis, people turn to social media for guidance and comfort. Along with trusted organizations, they look to their favorite content creators to help keep them informed and entertained.
What Brands Can Do
Now is the time to develop long-term strategies aimed on building brand equity and establishing lasting connections for a post COVID-19 world. Instead of remaining silent, the most agile brands are finding creative ways to lean in.
1. Understand how your brand fits into people’s lives during this developing situation.
2. Connect with consumers purposefully.
3. Be mindful of your brand’s campaign messaging and tone of voice.
Partnering With Creators
Creators Are Connecting With Audiences Now More Than Ever
Influencers are dealing with this unprecedented situation just like all of us – they’re everyday
people affected by this deeply disruptive event. They are documenting their lifestyles under these changing circumstances across every platform – from parents suddenly juggling daycare and work, to easy-to-perform home workouts, to ways of maintaining positivity during a challenging time.
As we’ve seen, creators are actively engaging with their followers regarding the many challenges and lifestyle shifts that have emerged in the wake of COVID-19. And this crisis is truly global, with every single one of us being affected – which is why we can already find examples of influencers from across all different niches leaning into the situation in unexpected, creative and inspiring ways.
Even influencers who work in niches that are currently experiencing a high level of disruption e.g. travel and hospitality keep expressing themselves on their channels and connecting with their communities through their day-to-day life experiences.
Creators are multi-faceted and complex, which is why you won’t just find “fitness” influencers talking about home workout tips (though you can find many amazing examples of those). Instead, we’re seeing creators attempt new content formats or talk about different aspects of daily life in isolation, which is why we advise brands to be vigilant of the conversation happening online. Good ideas can come from anyone on social media and brands shouldn’t limit opportunities based on general categories.
Creating Meaningful Branded Content | Be Present, Be Relevant, Add Value
Now more than ever, brands need to listen to their consumers. As our lifestyles evolve in response to this constantly-changing situation, it’s important to know what people are talking about and what’s important to them in the moment.
Social media influencers do this instinctively. They’ve built loyal audiences through constant two-way communication, soliciting their followers’ feedback and using it to fuel their next creative output. Audiences keep coming back to their favorite creators specifically because they provide fresh content that’s relevant and in tune with the types of experiences they are looking to have on these platforms, from Instagram to Twitter, TikTok, Pintrest and everything in between.
Creators can be found on every platform building highly engaged audiences because each platform offers unique opportunities to be creative and connect with people. Don’t overlook any platform! For example on Pinterest, searched related to “homeschool schedules” are reportedly up 32x, searches like “freezer meals” are up 155% and “work from home” searches are up 170%.
Creating meaningful branded content means providing some sort of value, whether that’s spreading useful information, helping people blow off steam, or introducing new and interesting facets of life.
Here are three key ways brands can leverage influencer partnerships to create meaningful experiences:
We’ve seen social media increasingly become a source for sharing knowledge. Amidst a period of isolation, creators can educate their followers in multiple ways. They can: (1) help share accurate information around the virus, (2) ways to navigate challenges that have emerged in the wake of the outbreak (3) create and share educational tools so everyone can continue learning e.g. tutorials and how-to’s so followers can work on new skills.
Bored and isolated consumers need outlets, including activities that keep their minds and bodies occupied. We’ve already seen a wave of creators publish entertaining content to consume, as well as interactive challenges and ideas for ways followers can entertain themselves at home.
If fear is contagious, so is hope. Creators can use their voice to keep our collective spirits high, sharing motivational and empowering content. They can inspire their followers with interesting and fulfilling activities to do while they are stuck inside.
Marketing is a human-centric business and one of the most defining human traits is our ability to navigate change. If all the activity on social media is showing us anything, it’s that we’re going to find creative ways to stay connected.
Whenever a creator brings laughter, joy, or inspiration to their communities, the message they’re really sharing is “we’re going to be ok; we are moving forward together.”