Brand Influencer Spending During the Pandemic
During the time of COVID, the impact of the influencer increased. And companies are responding because they know that a personal connection to a person can mean big things for their brand. During the first two months of COVID enterprise spending on Social Media increased by 74% to account for 23% of marketing budgets (HBR). While I always believed Social Influencers would increase the share of marketing budgets over time, COVID and our current lifestyles, have sped this up. I don’t think any brand should be naive to think they can stay relevant in the market without the use of a Social Media Influencer.
Who I’m Influenced By Personally & The Expectations I Have
I am a consumer who increased my spending as a result of Social Media Influencers during COVID. I am influenced by those who exhibit the qualities of my friends, smart, great advice, and humorous. The credibility of who I follow grows the same ways my friendships do, through trust and respect of their sincerity. My influencers must be specific in their offering, transparent about their process, and authentic in their personality.
Sarah from Things I bought and Liked does not accept swag of any sort. While she most likely resorts to advertising dollars and affiliate links to fund the site, she is strict in her recommendation requirements. For this reason, I feel a lot more confident in the authenticity of the share. After using her recommendation for a few products that have worked well – If there’s a product I need and she shares, I don’t ask questions, I buy. It also helps that she is incredibly funny, down-to-earth, and relatable. I always look forward to her posts and a laugh after the tough days during the past few months. I also very much appreciated her acknowledgment of the social issues plaguing our country. It made me respect her for not being afraid to lose followers in order to advocate for human rights. She does not pretend to get on a soapbox and post incessantly about politics but acknowledges that human rights are not a political conversation.
COVID Increasing Our Social Influencer Connectedness
I relate to Sarah from TIBAL, a statement at any other time in my life being said about a stranger might seem silly, but I’m realizing it’s pretty important during this time of loneliness, uncertainty, and decreased socialization. It seems I’m not alone either, as studies have shown that during COVID and the times we seek interconnectedness, social media is where we turn to (Forbes). I spoke to a friend and micro-influencer, Mike, owner of the account WeirdKidatSkool about his thoughts on COVID and how that has affected his social influencing. His thoughts: “I spend a lot of time at conventions for my hobby, it was how I connect with others in my field of interest. I’ve definitely seen an uptick in social media followers in the past few months, especially those interested in small story snippets on Instagram.” His feelings about whether that has translated into more sponsored ads can be summed up as the following: companies want the process, they want to feel as though this is a piece of media advertising they purchase. “They expect media rate sheets, and for a micro-influencer like myself, that is a tough barrier to overcome become I started this as an extension of my Comic-Con convention hobby, not a business. I mostly do this for the community.”
Some best practices for companies looking to leverage the authenticity and niche of a micro-influencer:
- Seek out those whose ideals align with your company mission. If you are about social issues, connect with like-minded influencers
- Don’t assume knowledge. Just because a micro-influencer is savvy about their niche, they might not know the business processes, and most likely won’t have representation.
- Be clear in your expectations. Tell the influencer what your goals are and give them the space to determine whether there is a good fit on their end as well.
- Understand the circumstances COVID creates for us all. Work with your influencer to build community and engagement with creative ways to combine messaging with what they need during these challenging times.
Adweek.com. 2020. 4 Tips For Successful Influencer Marketing During Covid-19. [online] Available at: <https://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/the-right-way-to-do-influencer-marketing-during-covid-19/> [Accessed 4 October 2020].
Moorman, C. and McCarthy, T., 2020. Harvard Business Publishing Education. [online] Hbsp.harvard.edu. Available at: <https://hbsp.harvard.edu/download?url=%2Fcourses%2F748130%2Fitems%2FH05RGX-PDF-ENG%2Fcontent&metadata=e30%3D> [Accessed 4 October 2020].
Taylor, C., 2020. Is COVID Making Marketing Influencers More Influential?. [online] Forbes. Available at: <https://www.forbes.com/sites/charlesrtaylor/2020/07/30/is-covid-making-marketing-influencers-more-influential/#20b708dd4200> [Accessed 4 October 2020].
Think with Google. 2020. What Pandemic Video Trends Reveal About Consumer Needs. [online] Available at: <https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/pandemic-and-consumer-behavior-trends/> [Accessed 4 October 2020].