It’s no secret that 2020 has changed the world in more ways than one. And with digital communications moving faster than ever before, many of us are questioning if it’s just a phase or if it will stick around?
And influencer marketing is just one industry that has adapted with the current times and adopting a digital-first approach.
Amelia Neate, Senior Manager at the Midlands-based agency Influencer Matchmaker, explains how COVID-19 has impacted the industry from a digital perspective and whether it will continue into 2021.
Influencer marketing has become digital-first
Just like many other industries, we have been thrust into an era where businesses have had to adapt and digitise to meet the new-found needs of consumers.
Typically speaking, the influencer marketing industry is renowned for hosting lavish events for press, product launches and workshops. However, due to current restrictions in the UK, social distancing and the guidelines set out by the government, such events are no longer able to go ahead.
With that being said, the industry has had to think on its feet and adapt – quickly. We are quite fortunate that a lot of what we do is already online, however 2020 has been a year like no other and things have changed quite dramatically.
It isn’t just influencers that have had to change and alter, though. Brands too have had to adapt to a completely new way of working by being thrust into the deep end with no option but to learn as they go.
For many, this hasn’t been too challenging due to the natural nature of the industry, however in today’s world, we simply have no choice.
It is crucial for brands to become digital-first businesses in order to succeed and keep up.
And many have managed to achieve just that. And with Zoom users increasing by 2,000%, will live streaming continue into 2021?
Influencers go live
Throughout the course of lockdown, Instagram feeds were filled with our favourite influencers going live to keep us company. From general chats and daily check-ins to live fitness sessions and book clubs, social media influencers took to the changes like a duck to water.
A social media platform’s live feature provides a better source of interaction between the influencer and their audience. Any form of video content is also much more engaging and with it being filmed in real-time, it is a great way for followers to feel involved and better connected.
Many influencers have used this feature to get to better know their audience, their interests and what they want from the influencer-to-consumer relationship.
Even now, as we come towards the light at the end of the lockdown-shaped tunnel, influencers are continuing to adopt this new digital-first strategy, incorporating the likes of Zoom, Skype and other live streaming features. And it looks like it’s here to stay.
Global skincare phenomenon Caroline Hirons has been a regular user of Instagram Live, both through lockdown and beyond. Using the feature to impart her expert knowledge as well as going live with some of her favourite brands, Caroline is just one of many who has implemented this strategy into her work.
A firm favourite among fitness influencers, Instagram Live provides them with a platform to share real-time workout sessions and classes for their followers to get involved with. The likes of Gorka Marquez, Carly Rowena and Gemma Atkinson have all continued to use live streaming post-lockdown, too.
Brands go digital
It isn’t just influencers that have had to adapt to the times and the newfound fast pace of the industry.
Digitising a brand may have been even more challenging than it was for influencers. Brands are so used to hosting events, product launches and holding their very own workshops, that for a short time, the pandemic put a hold to almost everything.
But now, brands have become more digital-first than we could have imagined. When we thought such events would no longer be able to go ahead, we couldn’t have been more wrong. Brands simply took everything online.
Creating virtual events and workshops as well as hosting online launches, it meant that the industry could keep on moving – and not just steadily, but at a rapid pace.
This time of year is especially busy for press events and workshops, and a number of global beauty brands have pulled it out of the bag, creating virtual events for people to enjoy and attend wherever they may be.
Jo Malone took their yearly wreath-making masterclass online, hosting the event online. When people were unable to meet face-to-face, they were able to come together virtually. With packages sent to influencers’ homes with all of their wreath-making essentials, the brand was able to continue to raise awareness and host their usual events, although a little differently to normal.
Also keen to keep up festive spirit and continue a long-lasting partnership with their favourite influencers, Viktor and Rolph created a ‘Christmas at Home’ event. Sending out bespoke branded biscuits and a package filled with floral crafts, the fragrance brand invited the likes of Fleur De Force to attend their virtual press event.
Is Zoom here to stay?
Platforms such as Zoom and Skype allow brands and influencers to stay connected, regardless of where they are in the world.
And location also plays a pivotal part in the influencer marketing industry. Not everybody lives in Central London or in big cities, and with travel restrictions in place for the foreseeable future, hosting virtual events is a great way for everybody to get involved.
Even without a pandemic, travel can be an issue for many, which is why I believe that live streaming is here to stay.
We’re living in a world where digitisation and technology is firmly at the forefront of all industries, and if brands don’t embrace it, they may not be able to keep up.
And with digital communication strategies accelerating by a global average of six years over the course of the pandemic, it is safe to say that live streaming technologies are here to stay.
Amelia Neate, senior manager at Infuencer Matchmaker