Influencers

5 ways brand collaborations with influencers will change post-Covid

July 2021

In recent years, influencer marketing has become a potent channel for brands hoping to engage current and prospective customers. However, as we emerge from the grip of a worldwide pandemic, suffice to say that virtually nothing has escaped unscathed - and that includes influencer marketing.

So as we step boldly into the ‘new normal’, what’s the lay of the land for brand and influencer collaborations going forward?

1. The exponential growth of TikTok

One of the fastest growing apps of all time, TikTok’s gradual domination of the social media landscape shows no signs of slowing. While ever-increasing monthly user counts give you some idea of it’s growing popularity, the real headline here is the diversifying user base. Gen Z might have taken the helm in the platform’s infancy, but millennial usage grew significantly throughout the pandemic, and the number of 30+ influencers with accounts on the site is also on the rise.

Of course, where audiences go, brands will follow, with millennial-centric brands like Charlotte Tilbury setting up shop on the app as the first lockdowns loomed. With new touchpoints always welcome in the omnichannel age, we predict that more brands will recognise its value in 2021 and TikTok campaigns will become a core component of influencer strategies.

"Millennial usage grew significantly throughout the pandemic, and the number of 30+ influencers with accounts on the site is on the rise"

2. Live streaming will become a go-to tactic

Stuck at home with little to no in-person socialising possible, many internet users tuned in to live streams to fill the void. Offering viewers the real-time exchanges (and real-world mundanities) we were missing, live streaming influencers built deeper connections with their audiences and enjoyed higher engagement levels as a result. In turn, brands capitalised on the opportunity to promote their products and services in new ways, and to offer their customers a uniquely convenient and interactive experience.

One prime example of this is the emergence of Live Shopping, enabling influencers to show a brand’s offerings in action, make recommendations, answer questions in real-time, and ultimately direct viewers to a seamless purchasing journey - all without leaving the app. Sounds good? Experts agree with researchers anticipating that the feature will hit almost half a trillion dollars in sales by 2023.

"Live streaming influencers built deeper connections with their audiences and enjoyed higher engagement"

3. Micro influencers get results

Whilst micro and nano influencers have a smaller follower count, brands who neglect them will miss out on far higher engagement rates than their more prominent peers, along with the fiercely loyal fanbases that support them. Recent influencer marketing research shows that 63% of consumers think nano and micro influencers are more trustworthy than macro and mega influencers.

Following a difficult year socially and economically, many internet users will find themselves disillusioned with the displays of wealth and luxury exhibited by internet celebs. They will turn instead to smaller influencers whose content more closely reflects their own lives. Post-pandemic, brands will need to ensure not only that they’re working with influencers people are actively engaging with (as opposed to passively following), but also that the way in which they position their collaborations is reflective of their audience’s lives.

"63% of consumers think nano and micro influencers are more trustworthy than mega influencers"

4. Brands become more conscious of influencers’ ethical track record

As conversations around social injustice and environmental concerns become more commonplace, brands will take greater precautions before engaging in influencer collaborations, whilst consumers will be similarly considerate over the influencers they follow.

For brands the stakes here are high, as choosing the wrong influencer, one with a shaky history on important issues, could do irreparable damage to a reputation that has taken years to build. 

Not convinced? You only have to look at Chrissy Teigen’s remarkable fall from grace to understand the power of ‘cancel culture’. As accusations of bullying resurfaced against the once untouchable internet star, brands rushed to drop her from active collaborations and distance themselves from the damage her behaviour had wrought.

"Choosing the wrong influencer, one with a shaky history on important social issues, could do irreparable damage"

5. At the end of the day, influencers are here to stay

The fact of the matter is that influencers remain one of the most effective ways to affect purchasing decisions, brand perception and consumer behaviour. People buy into people and in a year that was defined by social distance, social media and its troupe of influencers rose to meet that need. Those connections will persist long after normal, real-world interactions are back on the menu.

For brands, increased budgets for influencer marketing, as well as a surge in newly created in-house influencer marketing roles have shown the trust that businesses place in the channel and its potential for driving more sales and an increased ROI.

While in the past, short, campaign-based tactics were often preferred, brands will now have a renewed appreciation for the value of genuine human connections. Adopting an always-on approach - as we always advise the brands we work with to do - will enable marketing teams to grow more sustainable results and long term benefits from their influencer collaborations, and enjoy a stronger position in the consumer consciousness. 

"While in the past, short, campaign-based tactics were often preferred, brands will now have a renewed appreciation for the value of genuine human connections"

Guest author

Holly Morran, Marketing Manager for the UK at Cure Media, https://www.curemedia.com/

Illustration: Monika Sroga