Influencer marketing has not been immune to Covid-19. Influencers, especially those in the travel industry, found that creating content became more difficult during widespread stay-at-home orders. Many brands paused or pulled back influencer marketing campaigns. And according to some media reports, people stuck at home became disillusioned with influencers posting photos of themselves in exotic locations. They also didn’t appreciate celebrities lounging in their spacious mansions urging them to stay home.
Still, influencer marketing may become a more valuable marketing tactic in the post-Covid-19 world. Although 67% of marketers said their digital marketing budgets have decreased, only 41% said the same for their influencer marketing budgets. And nearly 60% said their influencer marketing budgets will remain the same or increase after Covid-19, according to a new survey by Linquia.
That’s possibly due to the results content influencers produce: 71% of marketers surveyed said influencers can make a positive impact for their brand. And 63% believe that the content is strong enough to use in other channels — including TV.
Close to half of marketers (41%) said they plan to run an influencer marketing campaign in the next two months. Of that group, two-thirds planned to use the same number of influencers and a quarter planned to use more.
The path to influencer marketing success has pitfalls, however. Two-thirds of marketers said it’s most important to find the right creative and message to avoid appearing insensitive. That was significantly higher than other top concerns such as building awareness, sales or engagement.
Why will Brands like Influencers?
Other PR and marketing players predict that influencers will remain vital — or become even more important — to promoting brands and products. People spent more time on social media and online shopping spiked during shutdowns. Shoppers may be slow to return to physical stores, but as retailers reopen they can tap influencers to develop customer relationships and accelerate sales. Competent influencers, also called creators, understand their audience and have earned their trust. Being able to churn out compelling visual content, they offer a cost-effective alternative to high-priced photography and video teams for advertising and other forms of marketing.
“Influencers have the unique ability to humanize a brand and create conversation, appeal and demand for products in the context of real-life,” writes Dave Murray, managing director of rewardStyle London. “This has become especially important as followers seek normality, assurance and guidance from those they trust during uncertain times.”
Marketers who embrace more sophisticated social media measurement will be the most successful and win additional funding. With marketing budgets under scrutiny, brands are re-assessing the effectiveness of different strategies and closely reviewing their ROI. Measuring influencer marketing results with more than likes will be essential for the strategy to grow.
“Influencer marketing represents a unique channel that builds trust with consumers, an industry that for years has prioritized sentiment and engagement KPIs such as likes, comments and shares over ROI,” Murray says.
The first step is to locate the influencers that provide the best fit for your brand, which can be done with a social media monitoring and measurement service.
“It’s critical to find someone who has an angle — and a niche following — that’s relevant to your business,” stresses Michael Fertik, founder and managing partner of Heroic Ventures, and founder and executive chairman of Reputation.com. “If your company sells software that features AI, for instance, a renowned data scientist might be a good fit. If your audience is digital marketers, a respected SEO expert may be your best bet.”
Bottom Line: Influencer marketing is holding its own as a PR and marketing strategy. As the economy reopens, influencers will provide an even more effective strategy for building awareness and driving sales.
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Michael Kling is manager of public relations, marketing and social media at Glean.info, a media monitoring and measurement service that provides customized media monitoring and PR analytics solutions.