While traditional mediums of advertising have been hit terribly because of Covid-19, brands have no other option, but to resort to the digital medium to communicate to their audiences. Social media stars are often known as influencers who have been a part of the plan for a lot of brands and agencies also saw the impact on Covid-19.
In this multi-part series on the impact of Covid-19 on Influencer Marketing, Medianews4u spoke to a few experts for their views.
Influencer Marketing during a Lockdown
Sanjay Mehta, Joint CEO, Mirum India believes that while there is a reduction in the overall marketing activity, but indeed, one of the formats that continue to be accessible to brands is influencer marketing. Mehta said, “Some brands have been engaging with influencers, who are all also locked down in their respective homes, but who can churn out content, sitting at home, be it text or audio or video.”
Kumar Deb Sinha, Executive Vice President, Dentsu Aegis Network and Country Head, The Story Lab India shared that there are two challenges and one opportunity that is at the back of marketers queuing up for influencers in current times.
Sinha said, “Firstly, traditional forms of advertising have come to a halt. It is both insensitive to advertise your products in current times as well as not a prudent decision to blow up your money in traditional and more expensive platforms, when the future of post covid world is still uncertain.”
Continuing Sinha said, “Secondly the bank of new content (both digital & social media and as well as traditional platforms) have been exhausted. Since production has been on halt in India for more than a month now, there is no fresh content available for a brand.”
Highlighting the opportunity Sinha said, “Thirdly the opportunity lies in the fact that consumers are consuming more digital content of all forms especially social videos such as Facebook, Instagram & TikTok. So, there is a natural progression for brands to tap influencers for engaging & fresh content, and tap influencers and platforms which are getting a lot of attention in today’s time.
Harikrishnan Pillai CEO & Co-Founder – TheSmallBigIdea, shared that Influencer marketing has always been a part of their amplification mix.
“Considering the existing situation, influencers are the best available solution and their worth will continue. Because of their natural, low cost production, in-house environment, the current context becomes lucrative. We have seen brands who have increased their outreach to consumers via influencers. They are diving deep and spending time on analytics to create more impact” Said Pillai.
Influencers’ relevancy in a lockdown
AGENCY09’s Head of Content, Gautam Anand feels that Influencers need to do their homework around COVID-19 and educate their fans and that “creativity and art will bring the world closer together.”
Anand said, “In the times where everyone is looking at social content even more, influencers must focus on qualitative engagement with the fans, keep them busy with activities and share a positive mind set overall. Dance, Comic / Humour, Art and Closed Room Performances have not seen a lockdown yet and must continue to flourish. We believe creativity and art will bring the world closer together, content creators are here to stay.”
Elaborating on the importance of a niche for an influencer, Sanjay Mehta, Joint CEO, Mirum India said, “Most influencers have a certain niche of interest and which gets them, their follower base. Beyond that skill or interest however, is their ability to create content around the same, and share it for their followers to consume and engage.”
Continuing Mehta said, “For several of them, their interest is something they can still continue to pursue, sitting at home. For example, if someone is a good singer or a musician or a chef or a fitness guru, such interests, perhaps with some limitations, can still be pursued with, even in lockdown.”
For travel and automobile influencers, Mehta said, “Travel influencers or automobile influencers may not have much option to actually talk about some new travel trips or take a new vehicle for a spin. However, even in their cases, they can revisit some of their old content and give it an interesting new spin. So in all of these cases, it is left for the influencer to continue to create content, and engage with their follower base, and stay relevant and connected.”
Kumar Deb Sinha, Executive Vice President, Dentsu Aegis Network and Country Head, The Story Lab India believes that this is a boom time for influencers or anyone who has the ambition of being a social influencer.
Sinha said, “You have more audience & undivided viewer attention. It’s almost like someone has granted you a magic wish. However with opportunity comes responsibility.”
On how influencers need to be even more responsible during this lockdown, Sinha said, “You have the responsibility of being original, different, showcase your expertise in the most engaging manner, creating content which educates or entertains and if possible does both together. And most importantly stay sensitive and aware of the development around you. These are unprecedented and uncertain times, and everyone is stressed, tensed and worried.Content that helps them cope with the situation or gives them a temporary relief from the stress and worry, will be appreciated and shared (yeah Whatsapp sharing is at its peak).”
Continuing Sinha said, “As an influencer you need to empathize with your audience, put yourself in their shoes and create content that is relevant and helpful for them. Even a joke helps, as we all want to think of normal times and laugh together once more. Authenticity of voice is also the need of the hour. If someone is fake, he or she will also get called out and un-followed. So being Human and a great storyteller are the most important traits for an influencer.”