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Social distancing is allowing relationships to be back at the forefront of influencer marketing    

Author: Philip Brown
Date published: 30.03.2020

When I try to forget how the current crisis is affecting me personally, I focus on reading and understanding more about how certain industries are doing exceptionally well – and how this can translate back to influencer marketing. This BBC article talks about six things that are booming in sales, including coffee, ping-pong tables, garden-items, and books. Hand creams are also poised to see an upcoming increase in sales, now that our hands are starting to dry up from extensive (but necessary!) hand washing routines.

Home exercise equipment is seeing a surge in sales, with the department store, John Lewis, noting a “significant uplift” in sales. Brands are starting to pivot. After the “Play Inside” campaign was launched, Nike is allowing U.S consumers free access to the premium version of its Nike Training Club app. In China, they've started to see a strong correlation between usage of their workout app and higher online sales. Nike saw an increase of 80% in app workouts in the latest quarter, but also an increase of more than 30% in its digital business. Nike is taking its learnings from Asia and applying them to Europe & the US accordingly.

Lululemon is following the Nike playbook, offering free “online sweat sessions” after having seen “success” in China and growing their following on WeChat. The brand has seen more than 170,000 sign up to live, online classes. Digital sales have gone up by more than 40% in the last quarter.

While the above is not directly linked to influencer marketing articles, the message to the industry is clear. Build relationships. So, I set out to find an article that would be more closely related to influencer marketing. Luckily, Glossy (as always) did not disappoint.

They’ve decided to write about Stoney Clover Lane (mostly accessories, for those of you wondering) and how they are shifting their influencer marketing approach. Prior to the crisis, the brand’s strategy was heavily reliant on gifting. However, in the current landscape, there is an increased likelihood that this could be seen as a faux-pas. Although I’d have to say, a well-timed and thought-through care package would never go amiss. I digress. The brand is instead favouring an approach based on User Generated Content (UGC). They have asked customers to perform an Instagram Stories Takeover, in which they can take over the brand’s Instagram stories feed and post their own content, obviously with a big emphasis on showcasing relevant product and their personal experiences with the brand. The brand has also started to spend time responding to direct messages sent by consumers on Instagram, as well as sending out emails to customers asking if they’d like to get on the phone with brand representatives to discuss upcoming collections, what kind of products consumers think they should make, and apparently even to ask what they’re watching on Netflix.

From an influencer marketing perspective, I find this shift fascinating. It’s a little disheartening to think that it’s taken this current crisis for brands to really start focusing on connecting with their buyers. Under normal circumstances they would eschew this audience-first approach, but now are offering consumers free access to apps, and even personally speaking to consumers. This relationship-led approach seems to be doing incredibly well for some of the brands. This current crisis could really put relationships back at the heart of influencer marketing, instead of the heavy focus on influencer advertising that has consumed the landscape for so long. The most effective influencer campaigns should always combine earned, paid and owned media. I also wanted to share the below from one of my articles written in 2017, which has a very timely feel to it.



“What if I told you that every brand and product has loyal brand advocates – and that most of them use social media? You may find them following your social media accounts, you may find them signed up to your mailing list – the point is, these people love your brand and are more powerful than any paid influencer will ever be.” 


However, I don’t want to underestimate the impact that influencers can have. We all know how Joe Wicks “broke the internet” last week in the most fantastic way imaginable. Then there was Twitch Stream Aid on Saturday. More and more articles are mentioning the importance of influencers in this period. Highlighting that while many marketers may be inclined to rush and promote their brand during this quarantine period, it’s important to remember that influencers have the ability to make people smile, help tackle isolation, and boredom in the upcoming months. The United Nations has even opened up a public brief for creatives to help spread important health messages surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are or know any influencers – I’m urging you to share this brief with them. This will allow people to utilise their influence for an incredibly important cause.

If at this point you’re still not convinced that social media consumption is sky-rocketing, make sure to check out this article for more stats.

-    Instagram and Facebook Live views have doubled in the last week.

-    Instagram users have been posting 6.1 Instagram stories per day on average, which is an increase of 15% week-over-week, while views increased by 21%

To close, I wanted to show the image below to showcase Twitch’s move from being a gaming-only platform to a more rounded content platform. The "Just Chatting" category has been in the top 5 systematically for the last week, routinely seeing more viewers than Fortnite & FIFA. 

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