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COVID-19 x Influencer Marketing: A match made in heaven?

At the end of last year, I posed a question: Will 2020 be the year we go back to having face-to-face conversations?

That being said, I wasn’t anticipating the COVID-19-shaped curveball we were dealt, less than three months later.

The outbreak of coronavirus across the globe has raised some serious questions for marketers. Brands and businesses alike are bracing for the worst, pausing campaigns, postponing events, or even cancelling their marketing activities for the foreseeable future. 

I’m not just saying that from experience, either – according to a recent survey from Econsultancy, 55% of UK marketers are now delaying product and service launches as a direct result of the pandemic.

In the current climate, thinking about influencer collaborations will probably be out of the question. I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be. 

Here’s why some businesses are choosing to increase their work with influencers, to help establish a new ‘normal’, amid the crisis. 

The need for humanity during COVID-19 (from brands and influencers)

The reality is simple: nobody really knows how to deal with a pandemic.

But, as the majority of the population has settled into life in lockdown, a silver lining (for marketers, anyway) has emerged. Our content consumption has increased. And this, in turn, has resulted in engagement on sponsored posts skyrocketing. Between March 14 – 24 this year, Instagram witnessed a 40% increase in usage, as users simply spent more time on their devices, as a result of the global lockdown.

For many brands, influencers hold a simple purpose: they allow brands to engage with members of their audience effectively. But, with that in mind, when most of your audience and consumers are sitting at home in Government-enforced solitude, the last thing they’re going to want to see is an influencer’s luxury quarantine spot. Just yesterday, Love Island finalist, Molly Mae Hague, faced criticism from fans after comparing her luxury apartment to living in ‘absolute captivity‘.

If only ‘absolute captivity’ had a private sauna, eh?


Anyway, I’ve digressed. 

From a business perspective, during times of crisis, focussing on building a human identity for your brand could be the key to seeing through the storm. 

Your actions will stick in the minds of your consumers when this is all over. As we all know, customer loyalty is fickle, so, providing you do the right thing (I’m looking at you, Richard Branson), your consumers will return to your business when things return to ‘normal’.

Working with influencers in the current climate

Before we begin, ask yourself this question: How will your brand’s existing influencer marketing strategy benefit your business in the current climate? 

Remember, many influencers are also struggling financially at the moment – their sole source of income has dried up. Businesses are tightening the purse strings, and brands are delaying endorsements – or cancelling them altogether. 

Despite this, the increase in online traffic from housebound audiences is presenting brands and influencers alike with a unique opportunity. Those who may not have been inclined to embrace their inner influencer before have the time to hone their craft now, and small-scale influencers may see a ‘boom’ that their business hasn’t witnessed before. 

Plus, choosing to work with a micro-influencer during these times will help cement brand partnerships that will withstand the test of the pandemic and the return to ‘normal’ life. 

Now is not the time to seek a quick fix. Instead of establishing an unsustainable relationship with a big-name influencer or celebrity, chose to work with a skilled, small-scale influencer. Choosing to work with individuals who focus their messaging around current philanthropic issues (like loneliness in the elderly, or working with local charities) is likely to resonate with your audience. Plus, collaborating with these influencers will help increase the visibility of your brand to a more socially-responsible audience, while increasing the long-term impact of your campaign.

During times of hardship, choosing to focus on the ‘human’ side of your brand will give customers a reason to return, regardless of your endeavours, in the future. The benefits of committing to these collaborations now will benefit your long-term brand awareness exponentially. 

Unfortunately, I feel I must mention that you don’t have to look far to find influencers who are exploiting the coronavirus for their own gain and popularity. Take Logan Paul, for example: 


View this post on Instagram


f**k the corona virus

A post shared by Logan Paul (@loganpaul) on

Hygiene, health & wellness: The consumer agenda

Businesses, regardless of their industry, will be acutely aware by now that consumer behaviour has witnessed a seismic shift from just a few weeks ago. As the pace of life has slowed, new routines have emerged – something that isn’t likely to change anytime soon.

Recently, the power and scale of working with influencers has been recognised on a national level – by the Government, no less. 

Before we even went into lockdown, the Government announced that they would be partnering with social media influencers to help stop the spread of misinformation and fake news. 

Working on the theory that these individuals held influence over large groups of people, the campaign from the Department for International Development charged influencers with the task of pointing young and impressionable users towards the formal public health advice, thus directing them away from harmful misinformation.

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What are your personal DOs and DON’Ts during this quarantine that has helped you keep sane, and stay physically/mentally/emotionally well? I really enjoyed doing Instagram Live Kwentuhan with you guys as a guest!! Thank you to everyone who watched and joined, sayang the connection of some were a bit spotty, so instead of posting the video, I’m posting some screenshots and their answers, in hopes it might be helpful for some of you! . @iamsuperdemai is based in Bangkok and living alone and away from her family, so for her, DO get some sun and spend your free time reading, watching movies and series, exercising (things that you know are good for you) and DON’T go out if not absolutely necessary (to not put herself and others at risk). . @lrnzogabrielle is a student living in Calamba, Laguna, and for him, it’s DO set a good example to others (he stays home, helps in their community) and DON’T pressure yourself to be productive just because you see others doing this and that—we are all coping in different ways. . @leyhnskie is an IT specialist based in Singapore, and for her it is DO what you can to stay fit (she says dati tamad talaga siya to exercise, but now, it helps her lessen negative feelings) and DON’T miss this chance to do the things you have always been wanting to do put have been putting off. . @villaminhea is a freshman Comm student living in Makati, and what works for her is, DO allot personal quiet time for yourself (whether you pray or meditate or just stay still), and DON’T invalidate your feelings. If you feel anxious daw, it is okay—acknowledge your feelings but try your best not to dwell on it too long. . @nicolevillarojo is a good friend na naki-live (haha thank you!!) She is a brand boss based in Bangkok, and what keeps her sane is DO stick to a routine (you don’t have to be strict with schedules, but have some sort of structure to your day) and DON’T be kampante (even if you can easily run to the store to buy things, try to avoid it, but if you really have to, wear a mask, don’t touch your face, try to practice distancing, and wash your hands right away). . Next week ulit? ❤ Drop a comment if you want to “guest” (naks!) or suggest a topic? 😊

A post shared by Bianca Gonzalez Intal (@iamsuperbianca) on

The £500,000 campaign ultimately proved to be a success; reaffirming the belief that influencers could be used as a force for good during the crisis, while also being advocates for the best practices surrounding the virus (like washing your hands). 

There has also been a global growth in appetite for authoritative influencers. Take Dr Joshua Wolrich, for example. He’s an NHS doctor with over 270,000 Instagram followers, and uses his platform to dismiss health and wellness myths. 


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Progress. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ A portal set up on from tomorrow will allow people to enter their details and then either book an appointment at a drive-through site (48hr turnaround) or receive a home testing kit (72hr turnaround after collection of completed kit). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ In addition the UK government have also announced the start of tracking and tracing. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Let me be crystal clear, all of these things should have been implemented WEEKS ago. Lives have been lost due to inaction, and it would be disrespectful to their memory to pretend otherwise. Do I fully understand the complex nature of implementing something like this? No. That doesn’t change the facts though. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ “The best time to start was yesterday. The next best time is now.”

A post shared by Dr Joshua Wolrich MBBS MRCS (@drjoshuawolrich) on

During the crisis, proactively partnering with influencers has been vital to reaching young audiences, who tend not to use traditional media to consume news. Not only have these collaborations highlighted the part social media would play in handling COVID-19, but they have proven how it can be utilised to reach audiences on a mass scale, quickly.

See? It’s not all bad news… 

Let’s be realistic; social distancing is going to become our new ‘normal’ (it’s likely to be in place long after the lockdown is lifted) – for the next few months, at least.   


And, as I’ve already said, nobody really knows how to deal with a global pandemic – which is why your business’s reaction will be so important.

You could bury your head in the sand, and wait for everything to blow over. Or, you can embrace the inevitable change in your audience’s attitude, alter your methods of communication, change your core messages, and become more sensitive to their concerns. 

Sure, burying your head in the sand would work fine. Staying just under the radar will help your brand weather the storm, without any huge issues. But, would you want to be remembered for doing nothing, especially if your competitors did everything? 

Nevertheless, COVID-19 has provided brands with a unique opportunity to reflect on their existing influencer marketing strategies, and adapt to the uncertain future we’re facing. Granted, the long-term impact that coronavirus is going to have on businesses and influencers alike is mainly unknown, but it is still possible for brands to engage in meaningful partnerships that will benefit all involved parties

Social media and influencers still have a part to play in this tale. But, working with these individuals to make your brand appear genuinely more human and compassionate could be the key to succeeding in this new, socially-distant world.

Who would have thought that when we’re apart, influencers would be responsible for bringing us together?

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