It could be debated whether influence on social media equates to power, but in recent years it is clear that social media influencers can make a living from promoting brands and products, so that influence is clearly worth "money." The question is exactly what the influence is worth given the state of the world.
According to new data from Linqia's Research Report: Influencer Marketing During COVID-19, once quarantines are lifted, 74% of marketers plan to activate influencer campaigns at least as much and possibly even more than they did pre-pandemic. Moreover, 67% of marketers said their overall digital marketing budgets have decreased in Q2 due to the pandemic, while only 41% said the same for their influencer budgets.
In other words even as digital budgets have decreased, the influence on social media has remained quite valuable, especially as 60% of marketers said their influencer budgets would stay the same or even increase.
Another survey, conducted by Smartly.io, which surveyed more than 5,000 consumers, found that consumers are ready to spend, with 48% of global consumers saying they made purchases based on social ads over the past 30 days.
"Through the pandemic, digital consumption has increased substantially and consumers spend more time on social platforms than ever," said Ryan Detert, CEO of Influential.
"Influencers are an essential part of the current media landscape and as the country opens back up, the demand will likely only be greater," Detert added. "Despite the tightening of media budgets overall, influencers will flourish because they deliver better engagement and overall ROI.
One factor, said Detert, is that influencers are also a more trusted voice for their audiences. "At a time like this where there's still so much uncertainty, brands will need to lean on influencers' relationships with their audiences to deliver credible messaging, at scale. Additionally, while the country is in the process of opening, full-scale content production will take time to get back to normal, leaving influencers as one of the quickest, easiest and most cost-effective methods to create content."
Show Me The Money
There is no denying that the global pandemic has taken a toll on brands of all sizes. Only now are shopping malls, boutiques and small retailers opening again ? and often with tight social distancing rules in place. However, this could present an opportunity not a challenge to some influencers.
"Influencer marketing is still thriving, even during a global pandemic," explained Domenica D'Ottavio, researcher at Fractl.
Fractl and Buzzstream recently conducted a survey of how influencers reach their audience.
What is changing is how influencers are utilizing that influence, but also in how they're now earning a living. If the retailers or even brands are unable to pay, those savvy influencers are finding other ways to keep the social feeds rolling and the lights on.
"While some influencers are still creating and promoting sponsored content, others have taken to promoting their Patreons, Venmo, or Paypal as a way for their fans to pay them directly," said D'Ottavio. "According to data from the survey, almost one in four Americans have donated to an influencer or content creator they admire."
The Fractl survey found that the number one platform Americans use to find out about new products surprisingly wasn't Instagram.
"YouTube and Facebook are still the most popular social media platforms consumers use to find out about new products according to the study," added D'Ottavio. "More than half of Americans surveyed have bought a product or service that they found out about from an influencer."
While the pandemic has no doubt put a full stop on a cruise or a dream trip to Europe ? at least for now ? those same savvy influencers have learned to pivot and are adjusting to what consumers want now.
"During this time, influencers promoting travel gear or hotel deals might be struggling," said D'Ottavio, who added, "But sales for products in other industries, like leisurewear, gardening, or at-home-gym equipment might be up."https://www.linqia.com/insights/marketing-during-and-post-covid-19/