It’s been a tectonic year for influencer marketing, and the ground is still shaking due to the current pandemic.
If you’re a digital creator, you’ve felt the impact straight on, as brands have shrunk budgets, cancelled partnerships and postponed events – indefinitely.
No doubt, the ripples will be long-felt, but the prospects are not all gloomy. The bright light at the end of the tunnel is that engagement rates on social media are reaching record highs.
Viewed from this perspective, the shifts caused by the pandemic might lead to an improved influencer marketing industry.
How will this new influencer-world-order look like? Well, it will undoubtedly be more diversified and better rooted in what followers really want.
The future belongs to those creators who’ll adapt, reinvent themselves and stay true to their followers.
If you’re a real influencer at heart, you’ll love shifting with the times and hopefully help bring out the positive perspective of all this mess-of-a-time. Here’s how:
1. Don’t rely solely on brand partnerships for revenue
I’m not saying “forget everything you knew” – but a small strategy-reboot won’t do you harm.
With the new normal predicated in the context of the pandemic, it’s no wonder influencer marketing is also transforming.
Sponsored posts have taken a steep plunge, falling from 35% of influencer content in mid-February to 4% of creator content in mid-April.
That means brand partnerships are no longer a sustainable strategy on their own and to succeed, you’ll need to broaden your horizons.
Don’t despair if brand partnerships are fewer than before, look for new ways to bring in revenue, because there are plenty!
2. Include direct-to-consumer services in your strategy
While some categories of content creators have been hit hard (it even pains me to think about the travel industry), others have found fertile ground to nurture new ideas.
Fitness, in particular, has seen a spike in engagement and direct-to-consumer sales.
With more and more people staying indoors to avoid physical contact, the request for at-home workouts has gone through the roof.
As you see, there is hope.
Now, you might be thinking: “But I have nothing to do with fitness”. Fair enough, but the lesson here is that you can leverage your know-how to create direct-to-consumer services.
For example, let’s say you’re a fashion influencer (fashion’s another industry that’s been subdued by the pandemic). While big brands are not eager to throw themselves in partnerships, you can create your own services. Offer styling advice for WFH, create clothes auctions for good causes, double as a content writer for your niche, your imagination is the limit!
3. Focus on what your followers are interested in NOW
Good Instagram marketing – influencer marketing included – stems from providing real value to followers. During the pandemic, more than ever, diving deep into your followers’ needs can make the difference between “sinking or swimming”.
To get through this uncertain period, you must tweak your content strategy and meet rising demands. Even if that might entail learning something about… plants, let’s say.
Why plants? Well, because houseplants have suddenly gained dozens of minutes of fame on Instagram. More time spent indoors has led people to tune into the green sermons of platfluencers (that’s to say, influencers in the niche of house plants).
Another topic that gained traction is – without surprise – insurances. According to data analyzed by Socialbakers, this topic has seen the highest growth rate from March to August.
The uprising can also be detected among health influencers who’ve experienced an influx of engagement.
Of course, these are not the only areas of interest for followers during the pandemic. Beauty tips, homeware recommendations, cooking recipes and DIY projects are just a few of the topics you could tackle.
4. Consider non-ad-revenue opportunities
Another way The only way to squeeze yourself through the economic bottleneck caused by the pandemic is to diversify your revenue opportunities.
For this, think outside the box and merge your Instagram efforts with strategies deployed on other platforms.
For example, more and more digital creators are selling their own merch through companies like Fanjoy. In addition to earning more, influencers using Fanjoy also increase their visibility inside their fan community by spreading joy with cool products.
The non-ad-revenue opportunities don’t stop here, with even more platforms rising up to enhance your Instagram efforts.
rewardStyle helps lifestyle influencers increase their affiliate marketing revenue by offering exclusive access to an innovative ecosystem of monetization tools.
And, of course, Patreon can ensure a recurring subscription income and ease the burden of relying solely on brand partnerships.
5. Use live streaming as a new way to earn revenue
The Instagram Live feature has seen a massive usage surge during the lockdown. The logic is simple: opening Instagram has become the new “coffee break” in the ‘work from home’ scenario.
Data shows that followers have increased the time spent watching live streams up to 90 minutes in one sitting.
For brands, this is fantastic news. Live videos are quick, affordable and easy to implement, while also respecting the physical distancing rules. Thus, the pandemic boosted a new “live industry”, and the earnings associated with influencer marketing can be pretty neat.
Appearing in a brand’s live stream can bring influencers hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Of course, this is not a new tactic for veteran content creators. Still, it can amount to a more significant revenue slice in the upcoming months.
6. Tap into consulting, teaching, and coaching
Influencer marketing has been, up until the pandemic, built mostly upon product endorsements. The word of influencers who managed to earn their followers’ trust was seen as the ultimate proof of a brand’s quality.
Also, many digital creators have leveraged the weight of their opinions to step into consulting, teaching and coaching in their respective domains.
Although these might still be uncharted territories for many influencers, they are viable paths and actually natural routes to explore.
If you’ve done influencer marketing right, you’ve equipped yourself with a set of skills that you can easily apply to get through the current pandemic. You already master the art of persuasion and visuals, so you need to fear not! You’ve got this!
7. Fulfil the DIY ad content demand for big brands and agencies
Monumental TV ads and epic budget productions have been the lion share in advertising ever since advertising was invented. Come the pandemic, the bold budgets got domesticated, so to say.
As an extra difficulty layer, brands also encounter difficulties in shooting big video ads, as social-distancing measures multiply.
However, the winning solution stirs brands to influencers who can create ad content at more affordable rates and in complete safety. DIY ad content is giving influencer marketing new ground to play on, and digital creators are happily joining in.
This trend is also enhanced by the spike in ad impressions and user engagement across Instagram. So, while brands are cutting their big ad budgets, they look forward to redirecting the cash flow into the bubbling environment of Instagram.
8. Continue to tell your story (and use Instagram Stories)
I hope that any worry you had when you first began to read this piece has vanished by now. With the pandemic, influencer marketing is going through a difficult time, but it’s also undergoing a beneficial transformation.
Digital creators who remain true to their tone of voice and adapt their skills to followers’ needs will rise stronger than ever.
The stats are promising. Engagement is rising throughout Instagram, and Instagram stories are seeing an exponentially higher amount of views. Even brands are fastly stepping into the stories’ territory to nurture conversations that can keep them close to their audience.
As a digital creator, we’re sure that you’re already too familiar with the power of Instagram stories. However, it’s time to innovate your game and go wildly creative.
Ready to turn around your influencer marketing strategy during the pandemic?
The good news in this dire scenario is that where there’s uncertainty, there’s also plenty of opportunities. Influencer marketing is here to stay and thrive, no matter how harsh the economic turmoil caused by the pandemic might challenge digital creators. It can be the bright digital candle in the dark and turn on a more positive point of view. So, if you’re an influencer who’s pondering on what to do next, our word of advice is to do what you do best: create, create, create.