The Right Way to Do Influencer Marketing During Covid-19

Brands have the opportunity for authenticity and affinity

What works today may not work tomorrow. Getty Images
Headshot of Danielle Wiley

Brands and organizations need to prioritize responsible outreach during these uncertain times, and one of the best ways of doing so is with influencer marketing. Influencer marketing during Covid-19 is not only a fast and effective way of reaching target audiences, many consumers believe brands can help with navigating this crisis.
Not surprisingly, in-home data usage has been rising in recent weeks. From seeking out pandemic updates online to pursuing various forms of entertainment from music to memes, this amplified demand means that brands have more opportunities than ever before to engage with audiences.
With the right planning and execution, influencers are the ideal partners for the kind of tactful, empathetic and mindful marketing programs that can help businesses and consumers alike during this particular cultural moment. Now more than ever, it’s critical to show audiences that you are in tune with their needs.

Prioritize information and value

Obviously, influencer campaigns should never be about capitalizing on a crisis—the goal is to provide value, deliver relevant messaging and forge connections. This is a time for proactive brand communications regarding the Covid-19 safety measures your business may be taking, or related updates such as store closures and policy changes. However, keep in mind that many consumers are being inundated with these messages, so make sure yours includes useful information.
Beyond basic updates, ask yourself how your brand can best provide value right now, and who can benefit from your products or services. If you’re asking for people’s attention during a stressful time, you need to be able to say how you can support their lives.
Some possibilities to consider: How can your brand help people stay entertained or productive at home? Do you offer online purchase and/or delivery services for those in quarantine? Does your brand help people who are suddenly working remotely? Can your brand help drive inspiration or keep spirits lifted? What are your customer’s biggest needs right now, and how can you pivot to help?

By investing in the right kind of social campaigns in this moment, you can help maintain brand affinity over time.

Pursue authenticity

Influencers have the ability to tell your brand story in a way that truly resonates, as long as there is authenticity behind their words and images. Audiences know when an influencer is genuine with their recommendations and this type of sponsored content serves to strengthen influencer credibility and impact. When the opposite is true, and influencer content is nothing more than a lackluster repost of brand party lines, audiences lose interest, and trust is eroded.
This is a time for organic partnerships that make sense: fabric brands partnering with crafters to showcase mask-making instructions, home improvement stores working with DIY enthusiasts to share home-based projects, recipe bloggers showcasing grocery-stretching meal creations that incorporate food brands and so on.
In order to avoid triggering skepticism instead of positive audience receptions, brands need to steer clear of inauthentic partnerships and inflexible creative prompts.

Be wary of public backlash

High profile influencers can be prone to scandal, simply by the nature of their public personas. Ideally, by taking time to evaluate influencer values, interests and lifestyle choices prior to forming a partnership, brands can avoid being linked to influencer controversy—but there are always unexpected developments that can arise.
Influencer content often provides a sense of escapism for scrolling social media users. Beautifully-curated images and videos can offer entertainment and reassurance, a respite from the endless onslaught of pandemic news and updates. While it’s okay to share lighthearted, aspirational content, it’s important to do so without coming across as insensitive.
For instance, popular fashion influencer Arielle Charnas recently came under fire for leaving New York City while Covid-19 positive, while Instagram influencer Skye Wheatley received a slew of angry backlash for sharing a photo of empty supermarket shelves to promote a prize giveaway.


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@SwayGroup Danielle Wiley is CEO of Sway Group.