Social Influencers x Social Distancing: how was influencer marketing changed?

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With events, travel and professional photo shoots all shelved during the Covid-19 pandemic - but latest data showing that time spent on social media is soaring - how has influencer marketing adapted to the constraints of lockdown?

At the IAB, we’ve been drawing on the insights and expertise of our members during the Covid-19 pandemic to understand how consumer behaviour is changing. From lockdown listening habits to VOD viewing, the lifestyle changes that we’ve all had to adapt to have had a huge impact on what, when and how we’re consuming media. In the latest instalment of our ‘Consumer Insight’ series, we’re turning our attention to influencer marketing - with the help of TRIBE, Gleam Solutions and Influencer.

How can influencer marketing help brands remain connected with their consumers during this period of social distancing? Firstly, the influencer market is in a position of strength in the current climate. With all of us naturally spending more time at home, social media is keeping us connected, informed and entertained. Latest UKOM data shows that time spent on social platforms rocketed by 28% between January and April, with people spending on average five hours more using the services.

This is mirrored by data from Gleam Solutions - reporting a 35-60% increase in internet traffic and a 300% increase in Instagram Live usage throughout the lockdown, suggesting that people are using social media as a form of escapism in a world where outdoor pursuits are difficult to safely engage in. In this context, influencers are uniquely positioned to help bring communities together around a common purpose – such as how to cope with spending more time at home - giving people a sense of togetherness and providing a welcome distraction from the everyday.

Influencers can also provide the human connection that brands need to engage with this community spirit. This means that as spend is driven online, influencer content can provide substantial impact and give brands a platform to tell appropriate and authentic stories to consumers in a tone that they are already engaging with on a day-to-day basis.

What’s more, as influencers adapt by producing and distributing content from their own homes, they can provide ready-made, crowd-sourced insights and feedback via comments and interactions - providing a powerful tool for brands to understand consumer sentiment quickly and honestly.

Insight over all

Providing first-hand insight into how content creators have adapted to better reflect changing consumer priorities, Influencer spoke Alex Stead, a travel photographer and creator. With travel impossible (at the time of writing at least!) Alex has been diversifying his content offering by sharing video editing tutorials. As he puts it: “Many creators are using the time to edit and build their relationships with their communities. They’re spreading positive messages to their audiences and also showing them that you can still create and reflect while staying at home.” By diversifying the content that they put out over the lockdown period, influencers are creating new opportunities to establish connections with consumers, and by extension paving the road for brands to do the same.

From L’Oréal to St Tropez and TGI Fridays to Fortnum & Mason, many brands have successfully evolved their influencer marketing strategy or a home-based economy, according to Tribe, which has launched over 280 campaigns globally during the lockdown. With production companies realising that content created on a smartphone can be just as effective as traditional methods, plans can move from conception to reality in under 48 hours due to the low production costs of the content - meaning strategies can be agile and reactive in a time where uncertainty reigns.

Take a look at IAB UK’s ‘Consumer Insight’ hub for more trend reports.

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