Influencing through challenging times

Marketing to the right audience with the right tone is always difficult, but today we find ourselves with exponential challenges. These difficult circumstances also present an opportunity to work with influencers.

On Instagram, #coronavirus has been mentioned more than 13 million times and #covid19 has been tagged 7.5 million times. While many people in America are on lockdown, influencer marketing certainly isn’t. Forbes reports that internet usage is up 70% and video streaming is up 12%.  Categories like fitness, athleisure, recipes, home activities and education are getting a lot of viewership. to market to a growing number of people quarantined in their homes and making deeper connections with their followers.

This is an opportunity for influencers and brands alike, to throw out their Q2 content marketing plans and generate useful and authentic content for your now socially- distanced audience.

At Look East, we frequently connect influencers with clients for influencer tours and events. Since those types of events are not possible right now, we checked in with a few of our favorite influencers like Amy Lupold Bair from ResourcefulMommy.comAaronica Cole at The Crunchy MommySandra McCollum of A Dash of Sanity – and her troupe from DASH Management – to see if they were noticing new trends in the world of blogging and influencer marketing.

What kind of content are consumers and sponsored partners wanting right now?

DASH Management shared that consumer audiences are turning to influencers right now for blog posts related to recipes, DIY tutorials, cleaning tips, educational resources, parenting advice and, generally speaking, sources of useful and positive content. With so much of the country staying at home, there has been a noticeable increase in engagement in email campaigns, blog traffic and on social posts.  “People want to hear more messages of positivity and coming together, helping each other and empowering each other to live a great life under these new circumstances.”

A trend our influencers are seeing are product payment instead of paid promotion. That may work for micro influencers with other sources of income, but many influencers with a large following work full time on their blogs and depend on sponsorships to support their families.

Amy said the week after “Stay at Home” orders were issued, her inbox went fairly silent. Once organizations started enacting their COVID-19 game plans, she began receiving requests to share content that families would find useful during the quarantine. Aaronica said she been creating new content when she isn’t sewing masks. “We’re still creating great content and now is the time to really partner with us so that we can get your products and services in front of an audience to keep them talking about it.”

As a brand, is this a good time for influencer partnerships?

Influencers want to partner with brands that trust them, rely on their audience knowledge and grant freedom to incorporate the brand message in a natural and authentic voice. One of our influencers said they’ve been receiving outreach from brands who partner with non-profits and are hoping to drive giving toward those partner organizations. Right now, the “big no-no,” according to DASH management, is content that features in-store photos of the influencers. The photos appear insensitive and unprofessional, given the current pandemic situation.

If you’re a brand that’s been thinking about launching a social good campaign, now might be the perfect time. Influencers may be more willing to work with budgets to promote a good message. Disney released its newest movie, Onward, to Disney Plus, after theaters were closed shortly after release. Typically, movies would take months before landing on a streaming service, but Disney knew that with schools closed, children are needing new content to watch. J.K Rowling and Audible (along with a few other brands) launched a free “Harry Potter at Home” hub for children’s activities and entertainment to enjoy from their own home.

“There is comfort in ‘keeping the lights on’ and showing that brands, businesses and bloggers are still there for them, giving the same easy recipes that content audiences are used too, and tools, products, tutorials and/or advice they’ve always provided – content that was once more ‘optional’ is now more ‘necessary,’’’ says DASH Management. “For example: homemade bread. A reader may now need to know how to make homemade bread because the store is out or they can’t leave their home.”

We’ve heard it over and over, but it’s true. This is an unprecedented time in recent history. And when our lives are upended, sometimes consistency and familiarity is what we need. Stay active and engaged with your followers. Provide them comfort in a time of chaos. And most importantly – stay safe and keep the good content coming.