It’s fair to say that there’s not much good that comes from a global pandemic. However, from a marketing perspective, if there’s one positive we can take from it, it’s that brands have the opportunity to create lasting emotional bonds with their customers in a time when people need that most.
At present, consumers are looking for information, content and connection to see them through the tough times. Although they’re not expecting to get that from brands necessarily, those brands who can go the extra mile and offer it will stand out.
Coronavirus has had a huge impact on all of us and has seen many in the marketing industry pivot their offerings and strategies. In the influencer marketing industry, we have seen a return to the two core principles of influencer marketing: trust and authenticity. Here, we’re looking at these foundations and discussing why this can only be seen as a good thing.
A return to trust
Since the coronavirus outbreak, people have been looking to social media, and in particular creators, for all of their content needs. Whether that’s for an update on the news, or to find morale-boosting and uplifting content, creators are able to deliver the content that people need in these most vulnerable of times. This in turn is building the relationship between creators and their followers, and increasing trust between the two parties as creators help their communities to navigate this crazy situation.
As such, creators are in a very privileged and socially significant position at present. Influencer marketing is built on the trust between creators and their followers, as followers look to their favourite social media personalities for product and service recommendations. Brands are able to work with creators to harness that trust-building and gain endorsement from creators, who are currently becoming more and more trusted by the target audience.
Brands who tap into this increased trust in content creators will also be able to align themselves with the kind of content that people want to see. By creating an authentic relationship with their target audience through creator-led content, brands can show themselves to be helpful, exciting and consistent at a time when people are looking most for those very qualities.
A return to authenticity
Coronavirus has led to a new wave of authenticity in influencer marketing, centred around shared experience.
No one is able to escape the wider effects of the virus, and this has brought creators and their followers together, leading influencer marketing to become more of an emotional pursuit than ever before. Without the ability to leave home, creators are being encouraged to produce very raw and real content that is far less polished. This is taking the influencer marketing industry back to its roots of authenticity.
Moreover, for the first time ever, social media content creators are being forced to stay in and create content from the comfort of their own space. They can no longer hide behind incredible holiday destinations, shopping hauls around a city or location-led content. Content creators are instead having to tap into this shared experience of coronavirus and are creating content that is more authentic than ever.
Brands should consider working with creators to produce content that is authentic to both the creator and the brand, and to the current situation. Those brands that do this will be able to communicate with their target audience effectively and offer an outlet for people who are struggling at this time.
Where do we go from here?
Just like the way you remember the little details of where you were at the time of a major news story breaking, consumers will remember marketing that made them feel things during the coronavirus outbreak. Whether that’s an email that made them laugh (or cry), a blog that helped them achieve something when motivation was at an all-time low, or an influencer marketing post that helped them feel connected, brands have an amazing opportunity to create meaning in people’s lives and strengthen their relationships with their customers.
Coronavirus has been the catalyst for a full refresh of influencer marketing, taking it back to its roots of trust and authenticity. In harnessing this, brands are able to create content that makes people feel things at a time when feeling is more important than ever. As with any campaign, those that create an emotional reaction in the target audience are likely to be remembered and celebrated, and there's no greater time for brands to create emotional bonds with their audience than now.
Ben Jeffries is chief executive of Influencer