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April 22, 2020

I recently provided some guidance and inspiration with the global team at FINN PARTNERS as they looked to engage influencers on behalf of our clients. As you explore influencer marketing opportunities in the months ahead, I am sharing a few thoughts developed with the help of FINN experts and from our wonderful partners at HYPR (thanks to HYPR CEO, Gil Eyal). Some are simple and obvious points but good reminders, nonetheless.

Social engagement is UP! People are spending more time on social channels, consuming and interacting with content. Instagram Live saw a 70% increase in March. You can expect engagement rates and impressions to continue to rise, with sports and other live entertainment postponed for the foreseeable future.

It is critical that we revisit all influencer content and partnerships rolling out in Q2 and the remainder of the year through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • If your content involves CV-related messaging, the recommendation is to get it out the door as quickly as possible.
  • CV-related content is very saturated right now, so make sure that any IG Stories that you produce with influencers have a “hook” to draw people in within the first few seconds.
  • CV-related content will eventually start to lose viewership as the economy opens up.

Content that requires influencers to leave their homes should be pushed back. You don’t want to put influencers at risk or have a client perceived as careless because of an ask you make of an influencer.

  • Solution: For products that require abandoning “social distancing,” rethink how one can engage with the product in an authentic and sensitive nature. (ex: “On-The-Go” CPG products can turn into “Snack Stations” around the home)

Similarly, content planning for the immediate period should feature influencers at home in a safe environment. This will ensure Authenticity and Believability – no one will believe that an influencer is going outside their home during these times.

  • Solution: Encourage influencers to show off their value proposition by how they rethink their home space during this time. Lean into the emotion of the goods/services. Consumers will always trust their community and influencers before a brand. This will not change.

If your product/brand/service does not translate well to an at-home setting, it could make sense to sponsor messages from influencers reminding their followers to stay home whenever possible. This is especially true for certain brands in the health + wellness space. The total number of activations are down across the industry. This equates to lower demand for influencer talent, while supply of talent stays constant. This will eventually translate to more favorable rates for influencers, so we strongly suggest either going in with lower offers to talent or asking for more pieces of content.

Test it out: With many companies facing event and trade show cancellations, marketers are scrambling to find new ways to reach their audiences. Live-streaming and subscription-only access to influencer content are only growing in an already-saturated space. With the consumer primed to be staring at a screen the majority of their day, use this time to test more effective ways to connect to your audience directly. (i.e., offer free content access).

  • Live streaming content on platforms like Zoom, Instagram and Facebook Live have proven to be successful because they are the primary channels to connect with audiences in real time. Influencers are also creating unique content via live streams. By announcing this in advance and only delivering valuable, exclusive information and/or special giveaways during their live sessions, they are attracting more eyeballs when they want them the most.
  • Partnering with an influencer who is a recognized Subject Matter Expert will drive sales. If you are looking to do this with your company, client or brand, we have connections across FINN if you’d like a partner to work with you on the optimal strategic approach.
  • Additionally, giving consumers access to premium content through a subscription model can be a new revenue stream. The content feels exclusive to the audience.

Be honest: Right now, there is a ton of backlash on influencers and celebrities speaking to the Coronavirus (ex: Vanessa Hudgens), causing consumers everywhere to ask these influencers to check their privilege.

  • Encourage these public figures to use your social channel – and theirs – for good during this tough time. (i.e., Did they remain true to themselves? Were they honest with their community? Did they help their community? Etc.)
  • The only products that should be marketed via influencers are ones that are purchasable online. Brands don’t want to encourage people to leave their homes to go pick up an item from a store.
  • Note: Because shipments from major e-tailers (i.e., Amazon, Walmart, etc.) are going to be delayed substantially or cancelled, the best products for influencer marketing are ones that have their own fulfillment channels, such as a POS page on their website. If you cannot get products to a new customer, can you create content with an influencer to speak to your existing customer base and inspire an authentic interaction with the brand? (ex: Influencer featuring “WFH Video Call hair styling tips” with X hair tool).

Categories and brand positioning that are working right now:

  • Food-Related Products: People are cooking now more than ever and want recipe inspiration. People are also bulk-buying groceries and are planning ahead with shopping lists. Staple brands need to be top of mind, as well as occasional products, too. As more begin to explore the kitchen and search for variety at home, specialty kitchen appliances like blenders, bread makers, sous vide machines, slow cookers and others are making meal prep a little more fun. Now is the time to snag that Vitamix of your dreams!
  • Wellness: Being stuck inside all day, people are turning to products that bring a benefit to them and the lives they care about most: air purifiers, non-toxic cleaning products, stress-relieving vitamins and sleep aids, to name a few. My family, including three dogs, could not live without our Blueair air purifiers in every single room.
  • Home Fitness: Anything related to home fitness, exercise and solo sports is of high interest to consumers. And consider it a bonus if you deliver content from unexpected fan favorites or options to keep you laughing during your workout.
  • Leisure + Comfort: With the shift to work from home, anything that makes you and your surrounding area more comfortable has major consumer interest. This extends to leisure clothing and shoes, furniture, bedding and home organization cabinets or containers.

In summary:

  • Overt branding and marketing within influencer content are not the best approach. Relatable and authentic storytelling is key. Influencers should connect with consumers and tout the personal benefit they’ve experienced from the brand/product instead of sharing marketing messages.
  • Products should be readily available and have no distribution or stocking issues. The quickest way to upset people is to see an influencer using and loving a product that they cannot find online or on shelves.
  • All partnerships, whether cash compensation or only product exchanged for content, must include FTC disclosure for paid partnership.

Please remember that everyone is experiencing the impact of CV-19 in their own way. While some states start to reopen for business, many others will keep shelter-in-place orders throughout May. Policies will differ country by country. Please be sensitive to the media, influencers, colleagues, friends, family, acquaintances and others you connect with in your home, across social networks, throughout your community and around the world as the situation each is facing may be different (possibly worse) than the one you are going through.

 

 

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