By KT Heins
It’s a tough time to be an influencer — so much of their content hinges on their interactions with the world around them, and social distancing makes experiential content creation pretty tricky!
At the same time, it’s not so bad to be an influencer. According to the Instagram reporting tool Later, engagement on sponsored content has recently increased by more than 40%.
While you would think marketers would want to have their brand in front of a highly engaged and even wider audience, that doesn’t necessarily mean brands are hankering to pay influencers for visibility. After all, is it really the right time to be selling as our communities are increasingly anxious about COVID-19?
Yes, probably, and:
1. Adjust your content standards and strategy.
Content needs to be about giving influencers’ audiences information and inspiration to make their lives easier; to help them make it through difficult times.
Micro-influencer Maria Helen knows the value of shopping for books in-store: Being able to hold a book in your hands is powerful, and likely results in a higher conversion rate for customers.
At the same time, as she states, books are transporting — especially for those experiencing stress while inside. She demonstrates that Barnes and Noble’s site is there to support her followers as they rely on art in self-isolation. The powerful emotional incentive works positively for the call-to-action and reminds consumers that they can access the books they love despite being at home.
Protip: By simply encouraging browsing or reporting products’ availability over explicitly asking consumers to purchase, your brand can be positioned as supportive for the consumer rather than seeming pushy. A truly authentic influencer with a sincere understanding of the brand’s priorities can make this approach effective.
2. Demonstrate authenticity over everything else.
We select our influencer partners to be the best match to represent our clients’ products and services. They fit the brand voice and aesthetic and their following matches target audiences demographically: age, profession, buying habits, location, and even interests.
Ask yourself: Do your influencers still accurately reflect your brand in the time of COVID-19?
As you define content strategy in collaboration with your influencer partners, make sure they understand A) If the purpose or intention of the campaign has changed, and B) whether they can acknowledge and speak to the new normal that your audience is experiencing.
Influencer Dr. Aisha Sindhu is a healthcare professional who speaks to this experience on Instagram now more than ever. Her honesty, dedication to the environment, and status as a working mother reflect the brand values of Dropps, a company that creates environmentally-friendly laundry pods. The company can trust her to perpetuate their brand narrative and reflect the “new normal” for their audience through the pandemic.
Protip: Micro-influencers may be more connected with their growing follower base, as their engagement rate tends to be higher due to more posts vs. fewer followers. As they tend to have smaller audiences, this can make content more personal as a result, meaning launching a successful micro-influencer campaign could lead to more impressions and could better reflect your brand’s dedication to its customers.
3. Remember that Brand Awareness (and Influencer Expertise) Matters.
If you learn anything from this blog post, it’s to abandon “hard sell” tactics in influencer content. Our Widefoc.us Influencer Partnership Program was launched to execute brand awareness influencer campaigns that ultimately support conversion campaigns. Visibility and credibility come first. And then conversions become plentiful in the long-term. Start with impressions as KPI, and leave trackable links and discount codes to the next phase of your campaign.
Begin your brand awareness campaign by thinking about your influencers’ professions, audience, and expertise. Brand awareness is about education rather than sales, which may be more valuable to your audience than your product right now. Develop trust. Become a resource. Build relationships with your potential customers first.
Masha is an influencer we’ve worked with again and again. She is a tech enthusiast and an industry insider. She’s worked remotely for years, and has opinions on how to remain productive even as we have to shelter indoors. Consider this sponsored video as an example:
Protip: Influencer content that is informative and provides practical information (in this case, essential at-home productivity tips) generates goodwill and credibility for your brand. By providing valuable information over a simple product link, your products and services will remain in the consumer’s mind longer.
By recognizing what skills influencers bring to the table, you can rely on their expertise and sponsor their content to provide your audience with the advice, support, and insights they need right now.
Senior Social Strategist KT Heins heads up our New York City satellite. She’s developed and executed influencer campaigns in partnership with multiple international and global brands. When she’s not working, she likes to read non-fiction, write, and play with her chihuahuas.
Want to learn more about influencer marketing? Join KT as she hosts our webinar on May 8 for practical insights about successful brand partnerships. Click here to register.