A PR insiders’ guide to navigating influencer marketing during a pandemic

by | Feb 12, 2021 | Analysis, Covid-19, Public Relations

To no one’s surprise, social media use has reached an all-time high since the pandemic’s onset. While the world faced unprecedented changes, engagement increased by 61 percent, according to Kantar.

As people spend more time at home, social media is the predominant avenue to reach consumers with captivating content in real-time to drive behavior. Yet, doing so comes with the expectation that social interaction is engaged in a humanized manner. That is why turning to influencers is one of the most valuable marketing tools for brand awareness and an accelerated ROI during COVID-19 and into 2021. Here we look at how company endorsement by individuals with strong followings are shaped in this new world and how to incorporate influencer marketing into tactical communications programs.

Why engage in influencer marketing right now?

Throughout the pandemic, influencer marketing on social media has become a contemporary alternative to traditional ad campaigns, due to its swift consumer reach, wide budget accommodations and higher degree of trust in content. These individuals dictate to us where to buy, travel, and live. There is also a fast ROI turnaround, capitalizing on their ability to rapidly produce content, reach large audiences and generate results. In turn, communications professionals can quickly record metrics of reach and engagement, while directly tracking lead generation.

Take an international company like Nike that quickly pivoted in the pandemic. Partnering with influencers like Cristiano Ronaldo, the brand launched its ‘Play for the World’ campaign focused on virtual exercise. Utilizing the reach of influencers helped Nike reinforce the brand at a critical time, while propagating a relevant message to stay home.

Luckily, it’s not necessary to be Nike to accomplish successful influencer marketing. As the pandemic’s unknowns keep businesses keenly focused on the bottom line, influencer marketing is available at a range of costs. It can be affordable compared to other mediums, even for the most budget-conscious brands.

How can we maximize influencer marketing?

Short-form videos have proven to be one of the most impactful tools for delivering content with influencer marketing. Take video platforms like IGTV and Tik Tok, the latter of which increased activity by 30.1 percent in Q1 2020, according to eMarketer.This tactic serves as a solution for brands looking to entertain their target demographic and highlight a product or service in an effective and engaging way. To fuel video content with more clout, influencers can serve as host partners for both in-person and virtual activations, authentically showcasing their interaction and experience with a brand. Video brings forth a human element that provokes more engagement toward emotional content, which is what users often seek.

How do you execute a successful influencer marketing campaign in a time of uncertainty?

Outlining a clear strategy is the key a successful influencer campaign.

  • Set the budget: Campaign budgets should be prioritized to drive brand awareness and increase engagement. Elements to consider when outlining a budget include influencer fees, allocated dollars for social media advertising/boosting, and necessary activation items.
  • Know the audience: Understanding the target audience will help effectively determine which influencers can reach the demographic. Ensure each influencer shares a breakdown of their follower base and engagement metrics. Keep in mind that a large quantity of followers does not necessarily translate to greater success. If a campaign is aimed at reaching locals, consider partnering with a hyper-local micro influencer with high community engagement.
  • Set KPIs: Determine how to measure results, based on the objectives. During the pandemic, a Miami-based multifamily project, Gio Midtown, initiated a “#GymGoals” Instagram Live series, which incorporated local fitness influencers to host at-home exercise classes. Like Nike (but, more budget-friendly), this campaign strategically launched during quarantine. Results were measured by total Instagram Live viewers, total views on IGTV, follower growth during a promotional period, and engagement.

All in all, influencers prove to be a powerful force. As we approach 2021 with a fresh outlook, the most effective marketers will want to leverage this strategy when a unique approach is necessary to reach client goals.

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Vanessa Fioravante
Vanessa Fioravante is co-principal of ANDER & Co, a full-service PR and digital strategy agency headquartered in Miami, FL. Follow them on Instagram at @anderandco

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