As the world settles into the new normal the issue of social media influencers and social media marketing is being explored. Despite the fact that the country is opening up, social distancing will remain for weeks, possibly months to come. At the same time, bars and restaurants likely won't be the hot spots they once were.
In part one of this three-part series on post-pandemic social media marketing, experts in the field discussed the role influencers could play in the coming weeks, now in part two the question turns to how influencers and brands will need to adapt to the changing world.
One way this could occur is by increasing the creativity.
"Creators are finding new ways to be creative and continue to connect with their audiences on social while in quarantine," said Mahzad Babayan, vice president of talent management and partnerships at Fullscreen, which offers tools, services, and consultation to social media content creators and brands.
"This includes leaning into 'educational' learning opportunities for their fans, encouraging them to spend their time inside creating their own content, making a new dish, learning a new craft, learning a new dance on TikTok, etc.," added Babayan.
"Creators are also connecting with brands that are relevant in our current climate," Babayan noted. "For example, we recently worked with Houseparty and it was a really seamless and organic way to promote this social networking service that creators and audiences alike are using to stay connected to their friends and family during quarantine."
Even in normal times the role of an influencer and power of the brand go hand-in-hand, and that hasn't really changed during the quarantine period. Some influencers have been able to expand their reach and grow the audience as people have spent more time staring at their screens.
"We've seen reports that audiences are still very much in tune with influencers while on lockdown, so much so that we might even be entering a 'golden age' of influencer marketing," said Jared Augustine, co-founder & CEO of social marketing platform Julius.
"While on lockdown, influencers have been able to maintain active building their communities," added Augustine. "However, as lockdown continues, it will be up to influencers to be very strategic with what partnership opportunities they take from brands, and not jump into less-than-perfects deals that, in the past, might have been an option in order to keep income flowing."
Just like any other time, influencers need to understand their worth, and not get pushed into deals that only benefit a brand.
"Influencers should be ready to say 'no' to partnerships that don't elevate experiences for their audience who are still confined to their homes," explained Augustine.
Just because some restrictions are being loosened doesn't mean life will be completely back to how it was just three months ago.
"As cities and states move at their own pace to end the lockdowns, it's important for influencers to remember that the challenges their readers have will vary, too," said Laurie Buckle, founder of CookIt Media, an influencer marketing agency that specializes in food and lifestyle content creation.
Influencers will need to stay focused on this "new normal" rather than taking what might have been the normal course of hyping summer getaways, concerts, sporting events and other outdoor activities. Instead, as we transition to a post-pandemic world it might be a world of debt, unemployment and very likely a lot of uncertainty for many people.
"Like every brand in the world, influencers too must prioritize their audience's needs above all else in order to stay relevant for the long-haul," said Augustine.
"(Influencers) should focus on helping solve problems that all readers share, like cutting food waste, keep their families healthy, and balancing days that include cooking, home-schooling, and cleaning," added Buckle. "Key to getting this messaging right is empathy for the reader."
Influencers can also be a force for good in these uncertain times, sharing not only useful tips, but also using their power in other meaningful ways.
"They can focus efforts on social good – driving charitable donations, for example," said Marshall Sandman, host of the Instagram Live series @SpillingtheQuarantea and influencer marketing expert.
"Another way is to focus on products and services that align with quarantine life, such as kitchen and baking products, at-home beauty treatments, home furnishings, educational and entertainment apps and shows, etc.," added Sandman. "Instagram Live is another great platform to share at-home workouts, recipes, DIY demonstrations, interviews, and more. Influencers can subtly promote brands and products on Instagram Live while offering useful and interactive content that their followers can participate in or tune into."