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COVID-19: Activating Influencers in our Current Climate

By Kelsey LeRose

Influencer post for Neato

March quickly became a time filled with uncertainty and confusion. The progression of the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to happen rapidly and without warning (despite the U.S. watching the situation unfold overseas for months), and that left the American public in an unprecedented state. The trickle effect to brands and marketers has caused many companies to quickly press pause on all proactive efforts.

While it remains unclear how long the call for social distancing will last, many now accept that - at the bare minimum - April will be spent at home. Meaning, for the next several weeks, people will continue to turn to social media for both connection and entertainment.

This increased consumption opens the door for brands to engage with consumers and provide value through authentic and relevant influencer-generated content. While this is a sensitive situation, brands have seen success navigating this climate with tasteful activations that take into consideration the relevancy of their product within this new normal, the state of influencer marketing and the new rules for engagement.

The State of Influencer

Influencers are reporting increased engagement
Forh.Co surveyed its 7,000-person influencer network and found that 70% are seeing a higher-than-average engagement on all content and platforms.

Ad content is capturing attention
This increased engagement also includes ad content, with Obvious.ly reporting a 76% rise in likes on Instagram #ad posts in March. Similarly, influencers have been polling their audiences and finding a majority are interested in seeing sponsored content.

Creators are acknowledging the changing world
Influencers are tailoring content to our new reality. They are getting real, acknowledging the good times and the struggles that come along with being at home. They are asking their audiences to share feelings and topics of interest, and positioning their feeds as a place of truth, inspiration and welcome distraction.

Pinterest activity is way up
Consumers are hungry for ideas – DIY projects, home organization, workouts, recipes and family-friendly activities. TechCrunch reported that Pinterest recently saw more saves and searches globally than any other time in platform history. Successful Pinterest activations require a 2-3 month lead, making now an ideal time to start planning for Summer.

Instagram influencers are flocking to TikTok                                            Traditional Instagram influencers are getting creative and experimenting with TikTok in their new-found free time. The platform saw a 30% increase in downloads and users during the month of March.
 

The Opportunity for Brands

Offer solutions and contribute to the positive conversation: As people are seeking connection, entertainment and ideas for at-home activities, partnering with influencers could be an opportunity to share content that provides value.

Lock-in discounted rates: During this time of uncertainty, influencers are willing to commit to future partnerships for lower rates.

Leverage influencers as content creators: If internal creative teams or agencies have limited resources to develop new content, tap influencers to fuel the content engine or use this time of reduced rates to negotiate ownership or extended usage rights for existing influencer content.

The New Rules of Engagement

Stay informed: Always be aware of the latest news cycle and developments. Explore all potential audience situations to ensure content does not come across as insensitive.

Know your role: Be cognizant of the role your product or service plays in this current climate, and look for authentic ways to contribute to the conversation.

Always provide value: Influencer content should spread positivity, entertain and pose thoughtful solutions.

Change the tone: Captions and content should be framed to take our current climate and lives at home into consideration.

Lead with empathy: Be considerate of the many ways people are navigating this challenging time.