The outbreak of COVID-19 has changed the world, and its impact is being felt across the globe. It has forced all the industries to evolve and think of new ways to thrive in the new environment and the influencer marketing industry is no exception. In the last few years, influencer marketing has emerged as an innovative means for brands to make their products stand out in the market and connect with their audience. The immense popularity of this strategy has made it one of the most sought-after careers today.
But the pandemic has changed the dynamics, both for brands and influencers as they are no longer sure about what lies ahead in the influencer marketing landscape. And before considering the future, it is important to look back and understand the growth of influencer marketing as it evolved.
The Evolution of influence marketing
When it comes to marketing brands and offerings online, trust emerges as the biggest selling factor because buyers cannot experience the products before buying them. That’s how influencers came ahead as the key decision-drivers as they leveraged the trust factor to convince their followers for trying brand offerings. However, influencer marketing has come a long way over the years and is much more than using the power of word-of-mouth recommendations to endorse brands.
As influencers promote brands on channels like Instagram, they need to keep pace with the ever-evolving algorithm and utilize the ever-growing array of features it offers for driving the best results for the brands. They also need to have a laser-focused approach, with a well-defined end aim right from the start. Further, they have to emphasize growing their influence instead of short term gains with collaborations that do not come within their brand ethos.
The new normal is all set to steer influencer marketing in a new direction. While that is clear, how this will happen is still ambiguous and no one knows how the future will pan out for the brands and influencers. It makes sense to bear in mind the current trends to have a sneak peek into what may lie ahead in the future.
Increase in social media usage
With people staying at home for the past few months, the time that they spend on social media has increased tremendously. Online shopping took a leap and is expected to grow further as these behaviour changes will last with the social distancing norms being in place for a foreseeable future. Additionally, more people are following influencers and the content they create. Digital content consumption on the social channels is here to stay and is most likely to influence buying decisions in everything that consumers buy, from FMCG products to home decor and even the choice of travel destination.
The content transition
Right now, the audience is also more selective about the content they consume online. People today want to see things that are real, and in sync with the current situation. The times when brands used to provide a creative brief and direction to influencers for creating content are gone. Both brands and influencers need to understand this shift and create content keeping in mind how it will benefit their audience. With the economic downturn, brands are working on a low marketing budget, the income of influencers has dropped and consumers are also cost-conscious. So, brands need to move away from the traditional influencer promotions and focus on building trust with the audience through an inspiring message. They have to incorporate storytelling and tell the consumer how the product authentically fits in their daily life.
Multiple content formats
Reels, Instagram’s new feature has gained a lot of popularity among brands and influencers, as they are using it as an interesting way of conveying the message to the audience through 15-30 second videos. Multiple content formats are making it big in the influencer landscape, with entertaining short videos coming ahead as winners. This is because people are looking for entertainment that diverts their attention during such a stressful situation. One more way in which brands and influencers can provide value to the audience and engage them is through live sessions. Since the pandemic hit the world, there has been a rise in live sessions and this will probably continue after the pandemic as well. Brands can try other novel ideas such as doing live Q&A with influencers, giving online product tutorials, or simply communicating with their audience. It is a great way to create brand awareness and connect with consumers authentically and naturally.
With the pandemic, more and more people have turned to e-commerce, so it is an amazing opportunity for brands to partner with influencers for conveying impactful & valuable messages to the consumer more aesthetically. In times like these, people are more likely to engage with content that seems original and is true to the current scenario.
Brands must think outside the box, stay relevant to their niche, and partner with an influencer who fits their objective and marketing message. On the other hand, influencers have to set a balance between sponsored and non-sponsored posts. Apart from the branded content, they need to start giving the audience some insight into how they can deal with the new normal as that’s the only piece of information that can relate right now. And when it comes to what’s next, everything boils down to making influencer marketing real and not aspirational, providing helpful content and driving a cultural change in the right direction.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelloPost.)