During the Pandemic, Influencers Bring the Marketing Message Home
After a year at home, most Americans have their pandemic go-tos. There are family and friends on FaceTime, Peloton instructors, pets… and social media, where usage is spiking as we increasingly connect to influencers who have become our gurus, style guides, cooking teachers and entertainers, all in one.
A study conducted by Kantar showed that during the pandemic, social media engagement has increased by 61% over normal usage rates, with Facebook and Instagram traffic up 40% for consumers under 35. In a time where people are physically distant, we are turning to social media to stay connected with one another. Because of this, influencer engagement has increased during this time, with Instagram influencers seeing an average increase in likes of 67.7% and a more than 50% increase in comments. Influencers have evolved from a marketing channel to some of the only “people” that we let into our homes.
Harmelin’s team of influencer marketing experts has identified three key ways in which influencers are innovating to keep us connected at home, and how brands should consider evolving their marketing strategies to take advantage of these trends which will last well beyond the pandemic.
1) The New Shopping Friend
Retail therapy is part of our daily lives, but Covid-19 restrictions have limited shopping trips and their social benefits including time with friends, advice from salespeople and the experience of trying products. Without the opportunity to get in front of consumers at brick-and-mortar, brands are shifting ad dollars to reach consumers at home, and many are finding ways to augment the joys of the shopping experience with influencers. Brands are giving influencers more authority by being the first to tap to test new products and give honest reviews, hosting product drops and collaborations. And influencers are helping to foster closer connections to their audiences for brands through curated shopping galleries, exclusive coupons, and product sampling.
bareMinerals recently teamed up with Hailey Bieber for a virtual experience, allowing fans to check into a “Virtual Villa” website. Consumers can watch videos from experts, participate in virtual activities, shop in the online store that links to purchase on the brand’s DTC site, and learn from the bareMinerals clean beauty ambassador.
Other recent capability rollouts from platforms mark a trend of influencers using live features to talk to their dedicated fan base about their new favs. Amazon launched Amazon Live for Influencers in July, and Instagram and Facebook launched live shopping features in August.
Gets You Thinking:
While influencers are traditionally used in top–of–funnel marketing tactics to drive awareness and consideration, they are becoming more popular among retailers to craft dynamic product experiences. When planning a customer journey, keep in mind that influencers can craft shoppable posts, coupon codes, collaborations on custom products and influencer galleries on retailer pages.
2) Back to Basics
Being at home 24/7 has sparked a call to action to be “real.” When Gal Gadot and other celebrities released their Imagine video, it was met with immediate and longlasting criticism, especially from Gen Z. While this was happening, influencers had already pivoted because – just like us – they are real moms, college students, food lovers, wanderlusters… who needed to learn what was ‘the new normal.’ Instagram is now filled with real looks of influencers, toned down outfits, sans makeup, open conversations about mental health and a window into their genuine world. Not a perfect, carefully curated world; that’s so 2019.
This move to real life also partly contributed to the rise in popularity of TikTok. The platform’s user base has grown rapidly since the start of COVID-19. According to Music Business Worldwide, the short-form video app saw a 27% increase in downloads in the first 23 days of March 2020 over the previous month. The platform celebrates real, genuine, unpolished content and audiences reward authentic creators with growing their follower counts rapidly. This has created new opportunities for brand partnerships. We have already seen the impact of this at Harmelin, where we have worked with a host of TikTok influencers on a cross-section of clients, generating hundreds of thousands of views that typically would not be generated on other platforms.
Gets You Thinking:
For brands to really understand their consumer, they must take this trend to heart. Being open, honest and unpolished is here to stay. REAL content is what consumers are craving and one sure–fire way to deliver is with genuine influencer content.
3) Meet the Granfluencers
There is a misperception that influencers are all young teens on Twitch, but that’s not the case. Our parents and grandparents are stuck at home too. And when you look at the data in the US, Baby Boomers spend 15 hours online every week, largely believe that social media improves their lives, AND hold 70% of all disposable income. This has made way for the latest influencer segment: meet the “granfluencers,” a group of over 55-ers who are taking to Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and yes, sometimes to TikTok, and are creating relatable content, product reviews and a platform to feel connected to other boomers. With such large spending power, this segment is really one to watch!
Gets You Thinking:
Don’t limit your consideration of influencer marketing to younger targets. With the right message using the right influencers, baby boomers are primed to be influenced by their social peers too!
As we continue navigating the “new normal” of life during a pandemic, there is no doubt that we will continue to see new influencer marketing trends emerge, and Harmelin’s team will be looking for ways to take advantage of the latest opportunities for our clients.