Let’s face it. For some years now, the world of digital marketing has been pretty predictable. Under the comfy cover of online marketing data and its insightful patterns, marketers had it easy for a while.
Technology coupled with a peaceful era enabled specialists to predict customer behavior down to the last detail. Extrapolate from past trends, run an influencer campaign, replicate the best of results, run A/B testing, repeat. Only those who weren’t paying attention were liable to failure.
But then a health crisis took the world by surprise. The rhythm of the standard cosmopolitan lifestyle changed. Data reports crumbled under the weight of its own irrelevance.
The question remains. Is there any influencer marketing strategy strong enough to make up for marketers’ sudden loss of insight? Read through the following article to clear up this conundrum and explore the new direction of influencer marketing.
1. Influence Skewed Towards Philanthropy
A time of uncertainty disheartens that sense of adventure that makes consumers try out new products. Instead, it opens people up to a curation of personal preferences.
This is why many notorious accounts started practicing something that might have been seen as against the unwritten rules of Instagram fame a few months back: reiterating their core recommendations. Naturally, influencer marketing trends during lockdown migrated to a “back-to-basics” approach.
Morning coffee rituals, fundamental self-care routines, all-time favorite physical exercises – social media influencers were more and more talking about reconnecting with their “first” brands. After all, getting back to familiar activities is a healthy form of reassurance.
The return to stable brands was coupled with powerful effects of another behavioral change. Social media influencers took upon themselves a reinforcement of their local community. As such, their content woke up from its cosmopolitan indulgence and centered on local businesses instead.
Philanthropic nuances are seen everywhere nowadays. They are in the hashtags (#SupportLocal, #SupportSmallBusiness, #BuyLocal, etc.), in social platform updates (see Instagram’s Support Small Business Sticker), and in influencers’ narratives.
Nowadays, the best influencer marketing strategy rests upon the collective consciousness of customers. The public has become aware that their small gestures matter. They have encouraged each other to support local businesses.
Anybody who makes a change in this direction gets endorsed, including brands. Therefore, a massive wave of philanthropic campaigns ushered a new marketing chapter during a pandemic era.
2. Celebrities Started on the Social Path
Movie stars, music bands, TV personalities, superstars, and the like had to confront a harsh reality. Their live relationship with audiences was coming to an end. This swift shift in the lives of personalities people look up to came to constitute a major component in the best influencer marketing strategy after a pandemic.
With concerts and public appearances canceled around the world due to coronavirus, celebrities looked for alternatives. What turned out to be second nature to them was wearing the hat of social media influencers.
This new pursuit translated into more content on social platforms and more collaborations with brands. Take Jennifer Lopez, one of the most beloved American singers. Her followers enjoyed a much more active presence on Instagram Stories. Also, they got to know more about brands with a drive to change the world for the better, like Hers or Super Coffee.
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Another ripple effect concerning influencer marketing materialized into a brand new type of applications. Cameo and Dedic have blazed the path to the marketplace of celebrities. Fans all around the world can now book their favorite personalities and receive a special shout-out.
Brands now have a unique opportunity to explore new depths of the influencer marketing industry. Never before have celebrities been so receptive to the world of social media. This gives the best influencer marketing strategy a boost by making celebrities as reachable as macro-influencers are.
3. A Sharp Surge in Social Platform Usage
Given the steep narrowing of hobbies and recreational possibilities, 47% of Internet users dedicated more time to social media content. In the meantime, social accounts of high following managed to keep their online activity fresh and relevant to the baffling period of time everyone has been through.
Gradually, the everyday lives synchronized to an international rhythm once again by adhering to the same daily routine. In the meantime, inspirational social accounts proved to be the most agile engine of relevant content.
Influencers tweeted, shot Stories, went live, and posted about the new course of life while commercials, ads, and banners were still living in the past. With users forced to put their digital transformation on fast forward, influencers are consolidating their rightful territory within the industry of online marketing.
Brands are recording progress as long as their target audience is thriving. When a crisis threatens the routine they’ve been comfortable with for so long, brand discourse must acknowledge the new shift and offer either a solution or reassurance.
The only branch in digital marketing that showed highly skillful in adapting their story in accordance with the outside world was influencer marketing. Popular account owners shared their own personal experiences during and after the onset of COVID-19. In the meantime, online ads were still communicating old messages as if nothing happened.
Thus, the new and improved influencer marketing strategy can play a key role in setting the scene for a new sales campaign. Its demonstrated sway and agility comprise an effective warmup for social users to take part in brands’ activities.
4. In With the Old Platforms, In With the New
Needless to say, Facebook and Instagram are not alone in the social game. There are other platforms with a strong gravity field for those of a curious spirit – the young audience. Given that, one day, the Gen Z purchase power is going to outweigh all other age boxes, a smart influencer marketing strategy will make its presence felt on unfamiliar platforms as well.
Fear it, ignore it, but you can’t change its course. TikTok is part of the big league now. Several reasons stand at its basis.
First, TikTok influencer marketing is bringing a fresh perspective into the mix. TikTok content is diverse and much more evocative which appeals to younger generations.
With its snackable format, TikTok encourages creative minds to try out new ideas. Sound and video, the two most immersive ways to express oneself, are the main tools of this platform. Based on a For You instead of a linear feed, any account equally enjoys every opportunity to get experimental and come up with the next viral TikTok trend.
Second, TikTok has just launched its business platform. Now TikTok ads come in a variety of forms:
- In-Feed Ads;
- Brand Takeovers;
- Branded Hashtag Challenges;
- Branded Effects.
Lastly, the transformation into one of the prime social platforms has been recently marked with a major collaboration. Shopify joined forces with TikTok to build together one of the most inspirational online marketplaces in the world.
It might be a Nextdoor copycat, but it’s one with a lot of resources under its roof. Facebook Neighborhoods takes centre stage with a three-layered platform:
- A hyperlocal networking service that works based on local groups;
- Free hosting services;
- A free cloud gaming service.
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Messenger Rooms, Facebook Dating, Classmates – these are all the new Facebook in-house apps that are corresponding to international startups that went viral overnight.
Facebook isn’t what it used to be ten years ago. The social network has been expanding in all directions to the point where it’s going to hold an entire digital world in its grasp.
At some point, Facebook users won’t be needing anything else outside their account. The Facebook vision holds too much in store for marketers to afford to look down on any of these transitions.
Today’s runner-up will be tomorrow’s champion. If there’s one word to describe the best influencer marketing strategy in 2020, that would be flexibility.
This year’s lesson is that certainty is an illusion. The best way to remain at the top of the game is to get familiar with as many social media channels as possible, be them old or new.
As long as platforms are pulsating with viral content, social influencers will take an interest in harnessing a strong presence on them. Wherever there is a source of inspiration, influencer campaigns can take root.
Therefore, any social media marketer of vision needs to test the new apps, extensions, and channels themselves before deciding which influencer at which stage would be a proper partner to their brands. At the same time, they shouldn’t lose sight of the pioneers of social platforms either.
5. Engagement Comes from Nano- and Micro-Accounts
At the beginning of 2020, marketers had all the reasons to pay attention to nano- and micro-influencers. These local yet powerful accounts were driven enough to work out long-term partnerships and focus most of their efforts on the holy grail of content – video.
Did the health crisis temper their enticement? On the contrary. As social media started forming clusters of users in support for local businesses, nano- and micro-influencers gained a much larger appreciation for their authenticity within their social bubble.
On top of that, data prior to 2020 shows that micro-accounts of 10,000 to 50,000 followers record an engagement rate 41.7% higher than that of macro-influencers (500,000- 1 million followers). This shows just how valuable these accounts can be as brand ambassadors.
Smaller accounts yet with a loyal follower base are better at catalyzing the bond between brands and their audience. While they can’t be a match to macro-influencers’ scale, nano- and micro-accounts excel at the depth of their results leading to long-term customer relationships for their partners.
Influencer Marketing Strategy – Final Blueprint
After connecting all the dots, influencer marketing receives a different career plan altogether in an era of uncertainty. Instead of holding fast to strategies that used to be effective before 2020, it is important to understand how the mechanism works now and adapt accordingly.
To sum up, the best influencer marketing strategy is at its core empathetic and shares the world’s deepest concerns while acting on them. This time, the master plan benefits from the endorsement of local and international personalities and nurtures an extremely active presence on social media. Last but not least, influencer campaigns are getting much more engagement when the word about them is spread by nano or micro-social accounts.
At the end of the day, there is no universal recipe for successful influencer campaigns. Instead, social media experts have to find new ways to gain attention to their products. However, a resilient influencer marketing strategy needs to tick the above mentioned traits off before getting through to the public.