Influencer Marketing

How COVID-19 Has Changed Influencer Marketing

July 16, 2020
Jacob Kelly

COVID-19’s impact on the world has been far ranging and the world of influencer marketing is no exception. While it’s impact wasn’t as long as had initially been expected, it has changed influencer marketing forever. The initial pause in influencer marketing spend has allowed brands to re-evaluate their strategy and now a higher importance has been given to data, forcing both brands and influencers to be data driven when negotiating with each other. We wanted to take a look how the coronavirus initially impacted the influencer marketing industry, where we’re at now and opportunities for brands and creators.

Smaller Ad Budgets?

When the pandemic arrived in North America, all marketing that wasn’t performance based was paused so brands could properly assess the state of the world and determine the best way to move forward. When this happened, influencer marketing budgets for most brands decreased with some marketers even the average price per sponsored post decreased by up to 25%.

However, since then, we’ve seen influencer marketing budgets start to return to where they were prior to the pandemic as the economy continues to open. In fact, some brands' budgets for influencer marketing have increased as a result of their event marketing budgets and out of home advertising budgets decreasing.

Creators Need to Come Prepared with Data

While these increased budgets are great for creators, the influencer marketing has changed as a result of the pandemic. Gone are the days where brands will find the biggest influencer that is willing to collaborate with them and give them tons of money to promote their product.

Brands are more selective than ever before with who they partner with. When a brand is partnering with an influencer, they need to make sure that they are reaching a new audience and that the influencer is able to help a brand achieve its KPIs and drive ROI.

A great way for brands to vet influencers in advance is through using SocialRank. SocialRank allows you to find and rank over one billion profiles on Twitter and Instagram by different filters including most engaged, most followed and more. You can also see which percentage of someone’s following is fake followers. To learn more about SocialRank, click here.

From the perspective of a creator though, you can use SocialRank to have in-depth data and analytics on your own audience. Using your own audience, you’re able to find and match with brands who have similar or overlapping audiences. Giving you a perfect tool for prospecting your next brand deal. Being able to come prepared with detailed data on your audience and your ability to influence them, makes it a no-brainer for brands to partner with you.

Influencers will be able to take it one step further, they can also start reaching out to brands first. Once you have data on your audience, you can use SocialRank to get data on the followers of your favourite brands, find the ones that are aligned with you and reach out to them and present the analytical reasons as to why they should partner with you. Traditionally, influencers have left the negotiations for brand deals between brands and their managers. However, if they can initiate the relationship, it can help them form a better connection with companies and lead to longer-term, authentic partnerships. 

Additional Opportunities for Creators

With so many people forced to shelter in place, consumption and usage of various social media platforms has increased. According to this Forbes article, messaging across apps like Instagram are up 50% and Twitter is seeing 23% more daily users than a year ago.

With more people on social media, this gives influencers a time to increase their content output to help get in front of more eyeballs and deepen their connection with their followers. They also have the ability to experiment with new platforms like TikTok or Twitch to help expand their audience. 

While some industries are seeing an increase in influencer marketing, some creators are not benefiting. For example, travel influencers have not been able to partake in travel, the core part of their channel. Not only have they had to pivot their content strategy and adapt to being sedentary, they also have had to find other revenue streams.

Some places creators who have seen a decrease in sponsorship since the arrival of the coronavirus have been leveraging revenue streams like the below:

  1. Take Advantage of Affiliate Marketing. If you’re a creator, take a look at some of the products you use on a daily basis, that you genuinely believe in. Take these products and see if that company has an affiliate marketing program. You can promote a product and share your link out on social media and every time someone buys using your link you get a commission. The size of the commission depends on the brand but this is one way, a creator could make money.
  2. Selling your own products. While this was already becoming more and more common prior to the coronavirus, this is a great way for creators to make money now and beyond the pandemic. Creators already have your advertising built in with the audience they’ve grown. So instead of having brands pay them to market their products, they can create their own and market to their audience instead.
  3. Content Subscriptions: Creators could create exclusive content and charge their audience a monthly subscription to access the exclusive content. The most popular way of doing this is through Patreon.  

What’s Next for Influencer Marketing?

This isn’t the end of influencer marketing but it is the end of how we’ve known it to date. Up until now, this market has been favourable to creators that were able to build a big audience. The focus is now shifting to the creators who are able to build a loyal audience.

Brands are going to put a higher importance on vetting creators before partnering with them. They will use data more than they ever have to determine which creators to work with. As a result, creators will need to be even more aware of their own data when entering into negotiations with brands.

With that in mind, influencers are going to have to make sure that they are building genuine relationships with their fans and followers. Now is the perfect time to do that with social media consumption on the rise. Creators should double down on their strongest platform while also taking the time to explore new platforms and build up their audience there.