The influencer marketing industry has been severely impacted by the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Business closures, travel restrictions, event cancellations, and even social distancing have created challenges for influencers as brands tighten budgets or cancel collaborations for the foreseeable future.
Though their feeds may not look all that different, without consistent brand partnerships and the added challenges brought on by mandatory stay-at-home orders across the country, many have had to adapt their content strategy and process in order to continue to provide updates to engage with their followers. While some have shifted focus to only sharing news related to the pandemic, a recent study by Mavrck states 72% of influencers say they have addressed the pandemic but are still posting their typical content.
What Does That Look Like?
Over the last few months, many influencers have faced these challenges head on, with out-of-the-box thinking, shifting their strategy to balance relevant content that drives engagement and conversation with fans and remaining sensitive to the situation at-hand. Overall, many have had repeated disclaimers across their channels that while they will continue to share reviews, recommendations and links to products and services, everyone’s situation is different, and no one should feel pressure to purchase. Additionally, many have teamed up to provide cash giveaways to followers as a way to offset some of the financial burdens their followers may be facing, instead of doing their typical product giveaways.
Some additional ways we’ve seen influencers adapt:
• Foodie Influencers: Without restaurants open for dine-in, foodie influencers have pivoted their strategy to help support local restaurants amplify their takeout and delivery options. They’re sharing detailed posts around which restaurants are open, how best to order food, and stylized images of their takeout from the comfort of their own homes. Some have also pivoted to sharing recipes and cooking how-to’s, promoting their local grocers or food delivery services such as Home Chef and Thrive Market.
• Fitness Influencers: Many fitness influencers have been shifted their workouts from the gym, using weights and machines, to their living room focusing on calisthenics to produce daily content. Even fitness instructors and trainers have turned to streaming options, typically through Zoom or Instagram Live, to continue to provide services to their clients and fans. Brands have also taken notice of this new trend. With their retail stores temporarily closed, they’re looking for new ways to stay top-of-mind. Brands like Lululemon and Athleta are tapping into their ambassadors to host brand takeovers on their social accounts to provide workouts, guided meditation, and inspiration.
• Fashion and Lifestyle Influencers: With retail stores temporarily closed, more consumers have turned to online shopping to get what they need or distract from the quarantine. Because they can’t try products in-store before purchasing, they’re leaning into fashion and lifestyle influencers for try-on hauls to understand clothing sizes and fit, and recommendations on everything from beauty products to home décor. These influencers have further expanded their content strategies through sharing tutorial-style content for simple DIY-projects, such as creating tie-dye clothing and table centerpieces, possibly opening themselves up to the potential for new brand collaborations outside of fashion in the future.
As the country begins to slowly reopen, influencers will once again need to adapt their strategy to meet consumer behaviors, as well as the constantly evolving guidelines that are being implemented to keep everyone safe. While some may shift back to their original content strategies of sharing workouts from the gym or try-on hauls from a store changing room, it’s likely many of these new trends will remain as part of the “new normal,” opening the doors to new content possibilities and possible brand collaborations.