What role can influencers play during lockdown?

March 24, 2020

This week we were set to host a panel to talk about what brands can learn from the fast action of influencers during the catastrophic bushfires. We cancelled in anticipation of some fall out from COVID-19 – but we couldn’t have predicted how hard it was going to hit.

With every morning bringing a new change to our lives and work – I know that my own anxiety at the vagueness of what the next few months will look like will be shared by many.

As custodians of brands, we face many new challenges:

  • Stores are closing
  • Outdoor media is becoming ineffective
  • Events and conferences are cancelled
  • Production has shut down

Our typically cynical consumers are very sceptical of brands spruiking their goods while people are dying – and it’s tough to know where to play. One thing we do know from recessions past, is that brands who invest and build equity during this time will reap rewards long-term. Take the classic Kellogg’s vs Post example – one of my favourites.

There’s hope ahead

Our reality is one of opportunity:

  • Screen time is up as more people are spending time indoors
  • Increased demand for content – which is relevant, entertaining and novel
  • The desire for emotional connection from online networks
  • Consumers seeking information from trusted voices

Brands can unlock these opportunities by partnering with influencers to leverage their skills in creative content and storytelling and harnessing the equity they have built with their audiences. This could look like:

  • Hosting brand takeovers to launch a new product via Instagram Live. Using the influencer to talk through the product benefits, their personal experience with it and hosting a Q&A with the audience.
  • Develop ‘with me’ YouTube content demonstrating how the product integrates into their lives. Whether it’s lifestyle content or using an influencer’s existing speciality skill – such as cooking or fitness – consumers love content from their heroes they can follow along with.
  • Produce content for brand pages. With production shut down, providing influencers with your product and asking them to shoot in their own creative style ensures you content calendars will remain filled up with new content.

Budgets will go further

We’re likely to see a decrease in the cost of influencers as current campaigns are stricken or pushed back. Combined with the increase in online engagement – we will see a lot more value from our influencer spend. Influencers will be looking to look in long term opportunities over the coming months with a preference for retainers, and we will see a sharp rise in the number of influencers offering direct-to-consumer sales through platforms such as Instagram Shopping as it rolls out in AU.

While we continue to feel our way through the current situation and companies are forced to learn the true meaning of “agile”, our communications must remain sensitive and considered. Our approach must focus on delivering value to the consumer – and we can do this through the equity influencers hold with their audiences. Many brands will be vying to capture the attention of waiting consumers, so to stand out we must be brave in our creative, clear on our message, and human in our approach.

Update: there are some great stats coming out from influence central.

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Herd MSL

Herd MSL is an ANZ public relations and integrated communications agency that provides strategic counsel and creative thinking. We champion our clients’ interests through fearless and insightful campaigns that engage multiple perspectives and holistic thinking to build influence and deliver impact.

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