For obvious reasons, many influencer-driven campaigns are either on hold or cancelled. But what are brands doing in the meantime to drive sales, or rather, what SHOULD they be doing? You’ll find that just because many influencer campaigns are displaced at the moment doesn’t mean that influencers can’t still help your brand stay afloat during such uncertain times. Here's the quick run down:
Shifting Gears From Big to Small
Brands are seeing that many influencers are getting flack for posting insensitively and don't want to be associated with anything negative when it comes to the topic of COVID-19. Relying on mega status influencers to be relatable is not working out so well, as many unfortunate tone-deaf mishaps have ensued since the beginning of lockdown (i.e. risking health on purpose by licking toilet seats for a TikTok viral challenge while healthcare workers literally risk their lives daily). Instead of going wide, the new approach is going deep instead by utilizing more micro and nano-influencers to drive sales rather than knocking on the doors of the Arielle Charnas of the world.
It has been confirmed time and again that smaller influencers can drive better engagement statistically speaking. But also consider that so many people are inundated with information and are becoming less trusting of mega influencers because they feel so far removed and don’t know if they can trust them. But with smaller influencers, there is room for deeper conversations and connections that can reinforce trust, reliability, and relatability. If you are thinking about continuing to use influencer marketing while we ride through the fallout of the pandemic (which we think you should), it’s better to turn to smaller creators during this time. To get a better grasp on what qualifies as “small” and the different tiers of influence, you can snag this handy graphic below👇. And you can read THIS BLOG POST to really get the full breakdown.
Changing Marketing Strategies or Grasping For Straws?
There's an increase in alternative marketing efforts that cut down on costs and also provide a sense of "normalcy". For example, many brands are having employees themselves personally promote and talk about products on their social media accounts. Doing this capitalizes on the fact that more people are engaging online right now and also ensures that information a brand releases is less likely to get skewed or misrepresented.
Turning to humor in times of crisis in brand messaging is becoming a thing. Not only that, but the mediums that are being used to distribute that messaging are changing. For example, email marketing is being used more and more. Why? First, there is further control of messaging, measuring responses, and retargeting. But more importantly, there is more of a chance that content will be seen because emails don’t have to compete with one another in an algorithm the way social posts do. In case you needed another example of how email marketing is NOT dead, here you go!
HOW should brands continue connecting with customers?
Although there are many shifts and changes that can have you feeling like the relationship you have with your customers is out of your control, consider the new tools and information that Instagram and other social platforms are providing to help you. Exploring these new options can help give your brand relations strategy a sense of normalcy and minimize any loss of connection or nurturing you should be having with your customers.
1. Make it no-brainer easy for customers to support your brand
Provide your influencers with ideas about how they can use new tools Instagram has just rolled out to engage their audiences even further. For example, there are now food ordering and gift card stickers for Instagram stories. Those capabilities alone have taken out multiple steps in the journey customers take from awareness to actually buying. People no longer need to navigate to a website, find their way to an online order form, and place a request. They can just click a button. On top of that, being encouraged to do so by their favorite influencer makes that buying decision even easier.
2. Spread Positivity and Truth
Studies have shown that customers do look to brands, especially the bigger ones, as authorities and reliable sources of accurate information, regardless of whether that’s actually the case. That adds a level of responsibility to you, the brand, and the influencers who represent you to share accurate information from credible sources. The best course of action is to have your influencers share reliable information resources so that customers still feel as though they’re being taken care of. As long as you are being thoughtful about your messaging and that of the influencers you’re working with, you can be a brand that people associate with positivity, honestly, and service.
Get people involved in how your brand is working through the current crisis. By taking advantage of the “stay at home” sticker for Instagram stories, you can encourage safe and healthy practices. Reinforce that your brand is sharing experiences with customers and being as empathetic to difficult situations as possible.
3. Interact in new ways
Since people are spending more time on each social platform than ever and many businesses have to rely on social media alone to advertise during this time, it’s getting a little noisy for customers. That’s why it's super important to keep people involved and engaged with your brand in ways that perhaps your competitors aren’t.
On your brand’s Instagram and on that of the influencers you’re working with, you can use all the interactive tools provided, like polls, quizzes, questions, swipe-up, countdown timers, and even tagging customers. If you can show through the posts you make and touch-points you create that you’re concerned about your audience’s opinions, concerns, wants and needs during such unprecedented times, you’ll be better positioned overall. The biggest takeaway is using influencers to help you carry out all these engagement tactics. They can show their audiences all the ways you’re working to serve them right through all the changes brought on by COVID-19.
Another great thing you can do to interact with customers is to take advantage of the algorithm push Instagram is making for users going live on the app. We all know that accounts that go live show up first in the stories feed, but you can also use to your advantage the fact that followers would get a notification that grabs their attention that refocuses them onto your brand. One of the most engaging things you can do on IG live would be answering frequently asked questions. Helping people to feel closer to your brand through seeing a human face, whether that’s an influencer or an employee of the company, gives a much-needed and craved connection point for customers that will set you apart.
If you’re still not so sure about the perfect way to integrate influencers into your marketing strategy during such uncertain times, we’d love to provide you with guidance. We can help with everything from developing a strategy that’s right for where your brand is, to finding the perfect list of influencers to help drive your business goals. Click HERE to connect with us. We look forward to seeing how to help your brand with #allthethings, even during this pandemic madness.
About The Author
Katherine Pereda is the Founder and CEO of The Influencer Grapevine, a boutique Influencer Marketing agency based in South Florida. Her clientele list ranges from luxury houses such as Gucci, Roberto Coin, Acqua di Parma, Vacheron Constantin, Jitrois Paris, Cartier LatAm, and Jimmy Choo to beauty, home design, fashion, lifestyle, and wellness companies like Maisons Du Monde, Tampax + Always PURE, Home Made Simple by Procter & Gamble, Target, MintedLeaf CBD, and Agnes & Dora. Katherine has also worked extensively in experiential marketing for WantedDesign, New York Fashion Week, DesignMiami/, Glossier, Create & Cultivate, Miami Swim Week, Funksion Fashion Week, and Art Basel Miami. Now specializing in talent management, and brand campaigns, she helps influencers and businesses from all over the world gain exposure, connections, and collaborations to build lifelong relationships.