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The continued rise of the Influencer

How the influencer landscape has evolved over the last 100 days


At the beginning of the Coronavirus crisis, there was talk of the ‘death of influencer marketing. The issue was multi-layered: a backlash against paid-for or sponsored content, the uncertainty around advertising budgets at the height of the pandemic, and the practical fact that influencers themselves were restricted in lockdown, so couldn’t travel or post anything other than home-based content. However, the market has swiftly adapted to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 world ,and has arguably demonstrated its importance in the media mix even more convincingly than ever before.

In  the early days of lockdown influencers demonstrated how much of a role they can play in reaching demographics authoritative voices struggle to talk to, amplifying public messages through campaigns such as the #DoTheLifeBuoySG challenge on TikTok in Singapore, which encouraged followers to wash their hands and gained 5.7m views in the process. The fitness industry was another area that was particularly quick to adapt, with micro and mega influencers alike seeing their content take off (none more so than Joe Wicks, whose #PEwithJoe recorded a world record 955k live views in the first days of lockdown). Fashion influencers turned to leisurewear, not only in response to a natural consumer trend, but also as part of a wider influencer acknowledgement of the need to remain authentic and unvarnished – nobody wanted to see an influencer struggling to cope in lockdown if they were ‘stranded’ in a holiday destination paid for by a brand.

These adaptations, and countless others, have meant a healthy amount of content supply to meet an unprecedented increase in demand, as consumers’ daily routines allow for more time to be spent online and a desire to seek out useful content.  According to data from social content company Fullscreen, 34% of 18-to 34-year-olds say they now watch more influencer content during and because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Video content, has triumphed during lockdown: Facebook saw Instagram Live views increase more than 70% in the first week of April in the US, and an overall increase of 50% in the usage of Facebook Live and 70% in messenger live, while 67% of influencers have turned to TikTok as a new means of creating content. Campaign results have followed this upward trajectory, with influencer marketing agency Obviously reporting a 76% increase in daily accumulated likes on #ad posts during the  middle two weeks in March, and a rise of 22% in campaign impressions from Q4 2019 to Q1 2020 alone.

There are important lessons we can take forward from the evolution of the influencer space during lockdown.  First, authenticity is key more than ever before – consumers will swiftly see through any attempt to crowbar a brand onto a trend, particularly an altruistic one. Secondly marketing strategies need to be ready to adapt to the new influencer marketing scene as we return to the new normal. Our Generation Academy session on Thursday 9th July at 10:30 ‘Meet the Influencer’ will take a look at the evolving role of influencers and how best to harness this form of marketing in your media mix.  We will also be talking directly to macro parent influencer Rachaelle Hambleton to hear directly from the source on what constitutes an ideal brand partnership.  Please email for joining instructions.