The word ‘influencer’ is massively popular these days and is applied to virtually every social media platform one can imagine. An influencer would typically have amassed a following of other users who value their opinion and content, and their following can vary from hundreds to millions making influencer marketing the go-to way for businesses all over the world to reach their target demographics. With the COVID-19 outbreak, the importance of influencer culture has become even more apparent.
Influencer marketing is still niche-driven
Relatability and relevance are critical: one of the most notable things about influencer marketing is that it is very niche-driven. Most influencers operate in a specific subsection, be it food or fashion. Influencers also have to develop organic relationships with their audiences as this boosts their credibility to make the consumer feel as though they are not being ‘sold’ by an advertisement, but by a friend. Influencer marketing has become a billion-dollar industry, fueled by the jet-setting and exotic locations influencers portray online.
According to Kate Spier, a lifestyle blogger based in Glasgow, “for a lot of us, it’s worked in our favor – our readers have more time to keep up with and engage with our content. I’ve seen my engagement and my following rise dramatically, and it’s reminded me why I started my blog in the first place – to share my life and to inspire others to live well.”
“I’ve been blogging for over ten years now and in that time, I’ve seen myself and my fellow creators go from sharing simple fashion and beauty photos in their bedrooms, to shooting big editorial campaigns with entire teams,” says Spier.
Just as air travel came to a grinding halt, some influencers have to pick up from other sectors such as online therapy and CBD – two sectors that are booming now. Working with businesses aside, creating content is a challenge for influencers that find themselves stuck abroad.
Tania Marie Caringi (IG @taniamarie.c), an Italian-American influencer and model was particularly set back when she traveled to Italy for the Milan Fashion Week and she got stuck in the country after the show was canceled.
“Creating content for me has been a bit challenging since the lockdown, and it’s double the task being stuck in Italy. But I have to mix in a bit of creativity and share some of my throwback content with my fans,” Tania told me in a chat.
COVID-19 changes ‘influencing’
When COVID-19 first broke, there was concern about whether or not influencers would still be able to produce content while on lockdown. This concern was stronger for travel- specific influencers whose ability to bring fresh content to their audience relies on being able to globetrot.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has, in a lot of ways, brought the industry full circle – we’re back shooting our own photos in our bedrooms! Without access to our full teams (agents, photographers, assistants, even fellow creators) we’ve had to scale it back to the homegrown content we started off with,” Spier says, adding that it has become a blessing in disguise, with more authentic content being put out with audiences reacting positively.
“I’ve enjoyed the slower pace too, as well as the more attainable content I’m seeing on my feed and the way our videos and images are being appreciated more by our audience. I’m hoping this won’t change when life resumes!”
“The pandemic made me realize how unsustainable past work habits have been. I appreciate living slower and cooking comfort food, often Korean, states Judy Kim, a New York-based food stylist and recipe developer with a background in fashion. Like many, she’s spending more time on Instagram, sharing recipes, cooking and gardening tips, and enjoying connecting with people globally.
Kim will be launching a new business she put off until now, starting with a DIY cookie kit utilizing her design aesthetic. Proceeds will be donated to a local charity. She’s documenting her journey on Instagram via @judy.kim and @crosby_37.
The role of influencers in a post-COVID-19 world
Even as the world adjusts to a new life outside of COVID-19 lockdown measures, it is clear that brand delivery will not be the same. More than ever, there is a need for authenticity, creativity, and relatability that only an influencer could deliver.
Anika and Tayler Schweigert, founders of the German travel and lifestyle brand @LoveLifePassport, and their partners Jadina & Ralf Tesch, who also teach the art of influencing to marketers and other influencers in daily webinars, are critical of recent developments in the industry. “In this day and age, the term ‘influencer’ is merely a buzzword associated with a large number of followers or a large number of people who clicked on ‘follow,” states Ralf Tesch. “However, having many followers on social media doesn’t necessarily mean that a person actually has any influence.”
“The main concern of any influencer should be to build a real targeted audience and with that gain a following that genuinely trusts him or her. This can be achieved by interacting with others intensively and authentically,” says Tesch.
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