What a year 2020 has been so far. Be it working from home, remote socialising or the inability to come within two metres of anyone outside your social bubble, the COVID-19 pandemic has completely transformed the way we live. As well as our personal lives, no industry has been left untouched by the virus. Influencer marketing has experienced an immeasurable shift at the hands of the pandemic and highlighted major avenues for exploration, which will be navigated further in post-pandemic life, whenever and whatever that may be.The landscape of the influencer marketing industry had rapidly evolved even before the pandemic, with brands predicted to spend up to $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022. Since COVID-19 hit, brands and agencies have been scrutinising advertising budgets more closely than ever. The new reality of this decade will see resources moving away from traditional means of marketing towards a trend of multi-platform campaigns with influencers at the fore. 

The power of the influencer

It’s no secret brands have continuously turned to influencer activations to target and engage the right audiences. However, the pandemic has certainly acted as a catalyst to springboard content creators into the mainstream and prove they can compete with traditional marketing channels. At the height of lockdown, marketers were unable to conduct pre-planned shoots for ATL campaigns and OOH advertising due to various social distancing restrictions in place. As a result, we witnessed many brands adapting their ad strategies. As the most qualified to create high-quality, hyper-targeted content from within their own homes, brands turned to influencers for a solution.A successful example of this was the #HaagIndoors initiative run by Häagen-Dazs in partnership with Secret Cinema. With real-life events cancelled due to the pandemic, Secret Cinema went virtual and briefed Häagen-Dazs to engage audiences in weekly in-home #SecretSofa screenings, encouraging sign-ups to the film club. Nano, micro and macro-influencers were activated to promote events across an eight-week period on Instagram and TikTok. The campaign generated positive brand engagements and created a real community during a difficult period of the national lockdown, with many consumers acting as brand advocates by creating organic user-generated content.  Post-pandemic activation will see a huge growth in influencers being brought into the mainstream. Not only will content creators continue to dominate social media channels, but they’ll also be integrated into mainstream advertising spaces due to their influence with consumers, arguably even more so than celebrities. Takumi’s whitepaper found 37% of 16-44-year olds were more likely to trust a YouTube influencer versus a high-profile figure, demonstrating the competition influencer marketing provides more traditional brand endorsements. 

Multi-faceted, multi-platform 

Multi-platform influencer campaigns will be a firm feature of our post-COVID world. Each social platform offers a distinct experience: YouTube allows for longer-form content with high production values; Instagram’s aesthetic edge, e-commerce features and user-interface creates stylised and artistic content; while TikTok encourages a more entertaining approach with its snappy, homegrown and trend-led videos helping it become the most downloaded app in the world.Clearly, there are different marketing opportunities available for brands across the various social media channels and knowing how and when best to allocate budgets to each is the key to a more cost-effective and successful campaign. Using a multi-faceted approach, marketers can reach the consumers that matter most to them on the channels they’re most engaged with.Another trend we’re likely to see is the emergence of influencers who are becoming more and more clued up on the ins and outs of brand marketing. As executive creative directors, they’ll work closely with marketers and use their detailed understanding of their own audience to improve the content’s performance. 

Actress, presenter and influencer, @amberdoigthorne, says

: “I think it is very important for creators and brands to have a multi-platform presence, as each platform will have their own unique audience. I know that some of my channels have a higher [or] lower age demographic, and so I can alter my content accordingly. Additionally, different types of content perform better on different channels – it’s all about understanding your audience.”

New kids on the block

Post-pandemic activation will benefit from the emergence of new platforms too. Recently it was announced that Triller, the entertainment platform built for creators, reached the milestone of over 50 million active users worldwide and is raising between $200m and $300m to fuel its expansion. As new platforms emerge, so will new influencers, bringing a host of innovative content creation ideas for brands to explore. Post-pandemic activation will be the byproduct of a time that’s been completely flipped on its head, and it’s crucial the industry takes these key learnings and implements them across the influencer marketing space moving forward. Content creators entering the mainstream media mix will continue to be a growing trend for 2020 and the years ahead, and at the same time, a multi-faceted, multi-platform approach is also emerging as a crucial element for successful influencer marketing campaigns. 
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