Social media usage is up by 72% as a result of life under lockdown. And with that, influencer marketing has swooped in and become the dominating marketing strategy of 2020.

In a time challenged by so many limitations and restrictions, influencers were forced to rethink their content to keep up with their followers’ new-found need of entertainment and escapism.

Resulting in brands battling it out to provide essential and purposeful content, the digital world seemed to be one step ahead of traditional advertorial. And with that, gamification and competition has helped to unravel a new level of excitement amongst consumers.

By gamifying content, influencers are able to provide levels of engagement like no other sales tool available on the market. We’re living in a world where content needs to be timely and not to mention sensitive to the current situation. And with the potential of a second lockdown, we’re continuing to see a rise in competitive interaction between brands as we’re placed in front of more ‘at home’ content.

By adopting these new cultures of community and competition, the potential for influencer marketing has soared, which is why brands should embrace these changes as we may just be about to enter a new decade of influencer marketing.

Creating an online community

If one positive has come from the UK lockdown over the summer, it is the community feeling that we are seeing so much more of, particularly online.

With celebrities and influencers looking to entertain and engage with their followers, many of which have set up private Facebook groups, including former X Factor winner Sam Bailey. In a bid to lift spirits, she launched ‘Bailey’s Cuppa Crew’ and posted live performances for members to enjoy.

We know that personalisation is a key marketing tactic and what better way to do that than with a ‘members-only’ group?

Virtual book clubs are another thing to have taken off during the months of lockdown. As people were no longer able to meet up in person, influencers recognised the need to bring people together, in whatever capacity that may be.

The Anna Edit’s private Facebook group proved to be so popular, particularly around books, that Anna Newton created her very own book club, The Edit Book Club. With a new book to read each month followed by a discussion a few weeks later, the private group has been a great way to capture creativity, community and friendship.

The ultimate hero of lockdown, TikTok provided none-stop entertainment for its users as it was constantly updated with viral dance routines, comedy sketches and DIY challenges. Now, on the (hopefully) other side of lockdown, TikTok is still firmly at the top of the social media charts as it continues to adapt to the times.

TikTok has really changed the game when it comes to influencer marketing. We’re beginning to see much more short, snappy content on the likes of Instagram and their new reels feature, and I believe we have TikTok to thank for that.

Bringing challenge and competition into marketing

Health and fitness, cooking and arts and crafts are all topics that have dramatically increased over the course of the year. Both brands and influencers have been working hard to make their mark on their chosen industry and have been competing to stand out from the crowd.

Pilates studio, Zero Gravity Pilates also took off online during the summer, after collaborating with a number of well-known influencers and celebrities for live workout sessions to encourage followers to keep fit at home. Now, with over 80,000 followers on Instagram, Zero Gravity Pilates have created an online subscription service for those that are unable to make it into their London-based studios.

During the course of lockdown, many influencers took to Instagram Live to keep themselves and their loyal followers, occupied. Instagram struggled to keep up with the number of users utilising the live function on the app with many of them logging on at the same time.

Influencers have continued this outside of lockdown, with many even taking a leap of faith and starting their own podcast. Lily Pebbles and The Anna Edit went live on Instagram every Saturday lunchtime throughout lockdown, and have now continued with a podcast, At Home With, where they share their current food, film and TV favourites as well as discussing a new topic each week.

Vicky Pattison, Ayda and Robbie Williams and Chris and Rosie Ramsey are just a few well-known names to have kept fans entertained with podcasts.

Building brand love

Influencers are no longer simply fuelled by brands, but they are becoming recognised as a brand within their very own right. And now, they’re creating their own products, organising their own events and are continuing to change the traditional methods of influencer marketing. It is ever-changing and hard to keep up with.

For some time now we have recognised the success of partnerships between brands and influencers and the ability for influencers to take creative control and I think we will begin to see this even more in this new era of influencer marketing.

Influencers are continuing to shape new trends within the industry and putting gamification and purposeful content at the forefront of campaigns has opened up new methods of engagement. Now, both brands and influencers should look to consider these now-crucial factors within their content.

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