24 Jun Effect of the Pandemic on Influencer Marketing Study
The pandemic seems to have affected influencers as engagement and pricing has changed from March 1st, 2020 to June 1st, 2020 according to an A&E study of 1,000 influencers. First, influencers have experienced a jump in likes by 67.1% and comments by 51.3%, and they have increased the pricing of their posts by 3.1%. Influencers continue making unique content that is fresh and relevant to the pandemic with many of them shifting focus, e.g., from fashion to stay at home workout videos, to meet the new demand.
Second, increase in social media usage may further support an increase in influencer engagement as social platforms have experienced significant growth in usage, messaging and views; in fact, YouTube reported 500% jump in views on March 15, 2020 according to NBCNews. Furthermore, Facebook has reported that Instagram and Facebook Live views doubled in a week during COVID-19.
Finally, it has now become more cost effective for brands to advertise with influencers as they are able to reach a higher percentage of their target market at a lower price. The following paragraphs will discuss in greater length 1) surge in influencer engagement and nominal increase in influencer pricing per post, 2) upswing in social media platform usage, and 3) how pandemic has lowered the cost for brands to reach their target consumers.
The Effect of the Pandemic on Influencer Engagement
Influencers continue to play a crucial role when it comes to content production during COVID-19. While many media outlets had to coordinate their efforts to meet the new safety guidelines that allow them to work in teams (according to YourParkingSpace, some even installed sneeze guards) , influencers were able to create content in the safety of their own homes with nothing more than a camera. From March to June 2020, influencers experienced an increase in their likes and engagement; some macro influencers with over 6 million Instagram followers, like Pamela Reif, saw their likes almost double and their comments almost triple.
Also, micro influencers experienced a surge, with some like Joey Zauzig achieving more than double the likes and comments from March to June 2020. Specifically, part of the reason in the increase of engagement may be attributed in the shift of influencers towards trending quarantine topics such as fitness, food, and meditation. Some influencers, like Caro Daur, shifted their focus from fashion only content to include lengthy workout video posts of over 50 minutes to meet the increasing demand for at home wellness during COVID-19.
Influencer Pricing during COVID-19
Influencer pricing has slightly increased since 2019 with pandemic not having much effect on the way that influencers price their content. On average, there was 3.1% increase in pricing per 1,000 followers – with some influencers having kept their pricing the same while others increased their price by 25%. The lack of change in price despite the lowered demand from brands looking to market during COVID-19 may be explained partially due to the increase in engagement; currently, for every 1,000 people that follow influencers, there are 67.7% more likes on a post suggesting that the audience is paying greater attention than pre-pandemic.
Furthermore, a slight increase in pricing means that brands are now likely to receive significantly more reach for the same budget as they would have pre-pandemic. Specifically, as engagement surges while the pricing of influencer sponsored posts has increased only slightly, brands can now take advantage of lower cost per impression. Influencers typically charge for the size of their following and not their engagement. Pre-pandemic, lower percentage of followers were tuned in on Instagram. Today, higher engagement means that brands have an increased access to the same influencers’ audience than they did before the pandemic.
The Effect of the Pandemic on Social Platforms
Increase in influencers’ impressions can be further supported by the growth in social media usage from February to March. According to NBCNews, Youtube reported 500% jump in views on March 15. For example, content on meditation increased by 55%, cooking by 100%, and workout videos by 200% in March 2020 when compared to the same time last year. According to research done by Kantar, Facebook and Instagram have experienced 40%+ increase in usage from under-35-year-olds since the start of the pandemic. Furthermore, Snapchat jumped 36% and TikTok by 27% according to Mediaradar and Newsweek respectively.
The Role of Influencer Marketing in the Pandemic and the Post-Pandemic World
Surge in influencer engagement suggests that for every 1,000 followers influencers can now reach a higher percentage of their audience in comparison to the pre-pandemic period. Furthermore, a slight increase in pricing per post means that brands are able to reach a much higher percentage of their target consumers without paying significantly more than pre COVID-19. This increase in pricing is due to the fact that influencers often base the price of their posts not on their engagement but rather on the size of their following.
For example, if in the pre-pandemic period influencer engagement was at 5%, for every 1,000 followers targeted, there would have been 50 people who would have seen the post. If the engagement rose to 10%, brands are able to reach 100 people with the same influencer following count.
As the prices rose by 3.1%, and the likes and comments surged by 67.1% and 51.3% respectively, brands are able to receive a lot more “bang for their buck” so to speak. Brands can effectively target their niche consumers by choosing influencers who create content for their specific target demographic and then engage an influencer to share their product with the audience to boost brand popularity and sales.
The Future of Influencer Marketing Post Pandemic
As more people are confined to their homes, consumer habits can shift and social media may become a more relevant part of the consumer decision journey. Influencers will continue to play a great role in digital marketing as they are able to rapidly adjust and produce current content while quickly addressing the increase in demand for certain type of posts, including wellness and cooking. The surge in engagement may signal that in the future influencers will have a great impact on their community as they strengthen the ties with their audience during the pandemic. With the slight increase in pricing of sponsored influencer posts, brands are able to take advantage of higher engagement than pre-pandemic that occurs as more followers tune in to view influencers’ content.