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Here's how coronavirus is shaking up influencer marketing

Here's how coronavirus is shaking up influencer marketing Blog Feature

Kristen Harold

Director of Demand Generation, 10+ Years of Digital Marketing & Lead Generation Experience

March 30th, 2020 min read

The immediate effects of coronavirus (COVID-19) on businesses is far-reaching, no matter what industry you are in. In the marketing space, influencers are starting to see major shakeups

From losing sponsorship deals as brands cut budgets to live-event cancellations, those in the once-booming influencer-marketing industry are having to shift and adapt their formula to keep revenue coming in. 

Opportunities are dwindling 

While the true impact of influencer marketing has been under the microscope for some time now, the industry has still been thriving to date. The main source of income for these influencers are brand sponsorships.

During these turbulent economic times, consumers are spending less and thus, so are brands. In addition to that, the age of social distancing has completely cut off income streams from event appearances. 

Influencers within certain industries like travel are feeling this the most. In an interview with Business Insider, travel influencer Oneika Raymond, who has over 84,000 Instagram followers, had this to say:

"I think a lot of people in the travel industry are holding their breath… Companies are reluctant to take on anything new and therefore that is impacting the income of creators."

With their main source of income coming from endorsements of products, services, and even experiences all shuttered due to the current health crisis, influencers are being forced to shift to plan B. 

Adapting to the new normal

The truly interesting thing about the times we’re in and their effect on influencer marketing is that social media usage is up overall.

According to Business Insider, Brands are seeing more engagement on sponsored posts right now. It makes sense, with everyone stuck at home, time online is on the rise.

So, if consumers are engaging more with influencer posts, why wouldn’t brands lean into that?

It’s a logical question. But, just because likes and comments are up, doesn’t mean purchases will be. Where that will net out when we return to some sense of normalcy is still to be seen.

What influencers and advertisers need to do now is adapt. 

For influencers, monetizing their content is one option. For example, YouTube influencers might see a spike in video views with everyone home. Now would be a great time to lean into DIY video and start creating content at home that is helpful to their audience.

Those with a large following might be able to get some revenue by running ads on their channel. 

For advertisers who partner with influencers, it’s important not to lose touch with the social media audience.

Creating content internally and optimizing your organic content might be a little more work, but it’ll keep you top of mind with your audience while we ride all of this out. 

What does this mean for businesses?

As the bigger brands pull back from their influencer marketing budget, this could be a good time for smaller businesses to open up relationships with influencers and micro-influencers in your space.

Now that live events have been canceled or postponed, these types of influencers likely have more room in their schedule and might be more willing to work with you on a smaller budget.

Knowing that social media usage is up overall means that now is a good time for your business to be engaging more online, with or without the help of influencers.

Enlist your employees to create DIY videos for social, answering the questions your customers are asking during this time of uncertainty. 

Keep an eye on hashtags or accounts that your customers are engaging with and jump in on the conversation where it makes sense. There’s a lot that businesses can still be doing to engage with audiences, even if your budget is limited.

Is the influencer marketing industry changed forever?

In all honesty, I think so. It’s hard to say what the world will look like two days from now — let alone two months or two years. But, it’s a good bet that the effects of this global health crisis will linger for some time. 

When we come out on the other side, consumers and brands alike will more than likely have a new perspective and new behaviors that marketers will need to adapt to.

For right now, the very foundation of influencer marketing has been shaken. It will be interesting to see what new trends emerge when the turbulence ends. 

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