The COVID-19 pandemic has changed almost every industry, forcing brands to shift strategies to align with the new normal. Due to stay-at-home mandates and travel restrictions, lifestyle and hospitality industries have had to pause influencer marketing strategies and pivot from their traditional initiatives. Let’s face it, Americans are not spending money like they did before the pandemic, which has presented challenges for industries rolling out consumer-based campaigns. What Americans are spending more on is a significant amount of time on their phones. This increased screen time has caused several industries to make the switch toward influencer marketing – seeing this as a great opportunity to reach customers where they already are. Local government, family services, pharma and public health entities are now using influencers to share informative messaging in the form of educational campaigns and public service announcements. For these industries, there’s no better time than the present to raise awareness on important issues throughout social media platforms. 

Power of influencers and social media in newer industries

Influencer marketing is fairly new territory for the public health, government and family services sectors. These industries have often been seen as limited regarding outreach tactics, which is exactly where influencers come in. Influencers have the power to utilise their platforms and can engage in a more personal way with their followers, something these entities typically lack. When it comes to spreading messages quickly and efficiently, social media platforms do the trick. Now more than ever, industries are recognising the importance of driving a message in a relatable yet timely way. Influencers are not only being seen as a method to sell products but their relatable “everyday” persona can evoke action and emotion. Back in March, government entities across the world were strategising to find effective ways to spread awareness in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. For example, Finland turned to social media influencers to disseminate accurate information, in hopes of flattening the curve. The UK’s Department for International Development also utilised influencers on YouTube to squash inaccurate information related to the virus. While some of these industries have been focused on the pandemic, there has also been an increase in community initiatives on evergreen topics surrounding mental health and safety, particularly targeting teens and young adults. Recently, we’ve seen an increase in anti-vaping campaigns on TikTok. When it comes to state and local family services, a primary goal has been to spotlight online discussion boards or general information pages to raise awareness. In these situations, influencers have the ability to shed light on important resources and encourage conversation surrounding topics relevant to their communities. In addition, many other industries could emerge effectively following similar models, one being pharmaceuticals, where educational messaging and calls to action are delivered natively on social platforms by influencers who are representative of the organisation’s target audience.

Tips for executing these educational campaigns

In these campaigns, it’s important to be diligent about messaging and to share it in the most effective and authentic way possible through influencer marketing. A few key tips include: 
  1. Ensure you’re selecting the best influencer for a specific campaign. It’s not all about popularity – especially when your goal is to raise awareness – rather than sell products. In fact, to get the best value for an awareness campaign, prioritise the quality of the influencer’s followers, rather than quantity.

    An influencer who is friendly and engaged with their group of local followers will likely draw more interest in an awareness campaign compared to a high-profile influencer with millions of followers with no clear tie-in to the campaign’s messaging or the community it’s targeting.

  2. Adaptability is key when it comes to messaging. Often times, big companies and bureaucratic entities are associated with rigid messaging. The goal of a PSA is to evoke an emotional response which sparks action, so try to be as dynamic as possible with messaging to avoid coming off as impersonal. It’s an influencer’s job to be creative and they know their audience best, so let them add their voice to the message wherever possible.
  3. Don’t neglect the power of micro-influencers. With a range of 1,000-10,000 followers, micro-influencers can shed light on topics in a relatable way rather than coming off as forced. Micro-influencers often have a strong, targeted following and unlike the largely popular celebrity influencers, micro-influencers have shown to have higher engagement rates.
  4. Always keep the target audience in mind. It’s all about customising the content to the platform and audience. When comparing and contrasting platforms, always think of how the audience will best receive the message. For example, if the subject matter is heavy and targeted towards teenagers, TikTok is a great platform that will generate organic engagement. 
Overall, influencer marketing has certainly experienced an interesting shift over the past few months. While product-based campaigns will start to ramp back up soon, we can anticipate new industries continuing their pivot toward influencer marketing, especially for disseminating public service messages and to promote awareness among constituents and customers. 
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