Influencer marketing has become a major marketing strategy among many businesses. Influencers are social media users with large followings. These influencers earn money by publishing sponsored posts that feature positive reviews of certain products and services. Although at the beginning of quarantine, we saw a decrease in these campaigns, influencer campaigns rise again.
Businesses pay social media influencers to post about their products and services. Some of the influencers with the largest followings are able to make a living or, in some cases, even become extremely wealthy from the money they earn by helping businesses market their products and services to a wider audience.
Influencer marketing creates a symbiotic relationship between businesses and the influencers they hire to promote their products. It tends to be very lucrative for businesses because people are more likely to purchase a product if it is recommended to them by someone they like, respect, or want to imitate—i.e. a glamorous social media influencer. For influencers, participating in influencer marketing campaigns allows them to earn money from the posts they publish and/or get access to exclusive products or services free of charge.
Influencer marketing campaigns have exploded in popularity over the past several years as social media has become so much more popular. Some of these social media users have become influencers by building up their social media followings to reach numbers in the hundreds of thousands or even millions. Influencer marketing is now a huge industry, with spending on influencer marketing nearing $10 billion.
When the coronavirus pandemic took the world by storm in March, the economy changed significantly. Many people began working from home, while millions of others lost their jobs completely. Many businesses became unable to remain open due to strict social distancing guidelines. Virtually every nook and cranny of the free market was turned upside down by the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus. So how has influencer marketing fared throughout the past 6+ months during which the world has been ensnared by COVID-19? Keep reading to find out.
Although the very first COVID-19 cases were discovered in late 2019, most parts of the world did not begin implementing new rules and guidelines such as mandated business closures and social distancing until mid-March.
At the very beginning of the pandemic in March, the number of influencer marketing campaigns that are active on social media declined by 3%. This might not seem like a major shift, but it definitely contradicts the pattern of rising influencer campaign numbers that has established itself in recent years.
This decline was somewhat unexpected, considering that social media use increased significantly when the coronavirus pandemic began. Because so many people became unemployed as a result of the pandemic, many suddenly found themselves with more time to scroll through their social media accounts. Far more people were stuck at home with nothing better to do than shop online under the guidance of their favorite social media influencers.
However, people were also very distracted—understandably—at the start of the COVID-19 crisis, which may have contributed to this reduction in influencer marketing campaigns. The economic struggles millions were facing in March may have also been a factor in this decline.
Despite the initial drop in influencer campaigns at the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the influencer industry recovered very quickly.
By April, influencer marketing campaigns were on the rise again. The majority of businesses continued to keep their investments in influencer marketing stable throughout this year, and many even chose to increase their spending in this marketing niche.
The coronavirus pandemic isn’t going anywhere. Most people are beginning to accept that wearing masks, social distancing, and staying home as much as possible will be the ‘new normal’ for the foreseeable future. What does that mean for influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing will likely continue to rise, despite its slight decline at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic this year. However, businesses and social media influencers will need to continue to adapt to the current public health crisis in order to keep their influencer marketing campaigns relevant. For example, influencers who acknowledge the current crisis the world is in as a result of COVID-19 and avoid publishing posts with a carefree, upbeat tone are more likely to encourage their followers to make purchases based on their sponsored posts.
Influencer campaigns have proven itself this year as a valid and effective method of marketing, as it has remained relatively stable even through the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. That being said, no one can truly be sure whether the influencer market will continue to grow or lose momentum over time—only time will tell.