How Brands Can Sensitively Join the Conversation on COVID-19 with Influencers

Thursday May 14th, 2020

Keep Your Mask on While Marketing

Brands are realizing the precariousness of promoting their products during a global pandemic. The inundation of advertorial COVID-19 emails that stuffed inboxes everywhere became a running joke on twitter—then later, that joke led to brand distrust.

As Time Magazine put it, “Companies are walking a tightrope during COVID-19.” And, the brands that promote insensitivity are going to lose balance. All this is not to say you shouldn’t be advertising your products at this time. In fact, during the COVID-19 crisis is an ideal time to show a more “human side” of your brand.

Your marketing efforts should showcase your empathy, passion, and authenticity. One of the best ways to  display these attributes is by teaming up with influencers. To help your brand position itself for success amid COVID-19, we explored the tectonic shifts in advertising and why influencer marketing needs to be on your brand’s horizon.

The Advertising Landscape Amid COVID-19

While advertising trends ebb and flow, the COVID-19 global crisis swept away entire campaigns and halted massive promotional initiatives. According to a recent report by Advertiser Perceptions, 89 percent of advertisers said they had to take action on their ad budgets due to the impact of coronavirus. Of them, more than one in three canceled a campaign completely, and one in two stopped or pulled a campaign partway through.

Scary TimesIt's often an impulse to cut ad budgets first, but really, businesses ought not to do that. As a study by the Advertising Specialty Institute shows from a century of data, economic downturn provides businesses with an opportunity to increase sales and build market share. 

During the COVID-19 crisis is no time to pause all of your marketing initiatives; it’s a time to pivot. Within this shift, brands need to adjust to the new normal just as consumers have. Ads with business-as-usual messaging won’t work because, currently, business is about as unusual as it gets.

People are scared, lonely, bored, and tired. And, consumers want you to address this fact, lest they think you’re oblivious, or worse, too corporate to acknowledge the struggle. According to a recent report from Edelman, 71 percent agree that if they perceive that a brand is putting profit over people during the COVID-19 crisis, they will lose trust in that brand forever.

Brands need to acknowledge the current state of commerce, and when appropriate, the state of the world. Show your target market that you’re listening and you’re aware. Build trust with them. Entertain them. Connect with them. In times of crisis, people want solutions, not sales pitches. More specifically, in a survey of 12,000 people:

  • 84% said they want advertising to focus on how brands help people cope with pandemic-related life challenges.
  • 77%  said they want brands only to speak about products in ways that show they are aware of the crisis and the impacts on people’s lives.
  • 83% said they want an emotional and compassionate connection.
  • 84% said they want brands’ social channels to facilitate a sense of community.
  • 65% said hearing from brands they use about what they are doing in response to the pandemic is comforting and reassuring to them.
  • 65% said that a brand’s response in the crisis will significantly affect their likelihood of purchasing it in the future.

But it’s not just what you say and how you say it; It’s who says it and where you say it.

Let Influencers Showcase Your Products on Social

People are social creatures, and as we thirst for human connection, we’re diving headfirst into the digital oasis of social media. A recent study by consulting goliath, Kantar, suggests social media engagement increased by 61% over normal usage rates. This increased usage has been the most profound among 18-34-year olds.

Mask OnWhile it has always been important for brands to have a social media presence, now it’s essential. However, as Edelman’s study showed us, people don’t just want any kind of content. They want to see that brands, and all the people behind them, have emotion, compassion, and an understanding of the times. Perhaps most importantly, consumers want brands to use their social channels to facilitate a sense of community.

Of course, the most crucial asset to a community is people. It’s for this reason that brands need to align with micro influencers. Micro influencers are real people, with real followings, who tell real stories. They have a trusted relationship with their followers and are often seen by their audiences as a source of inspiration, entertainment, and education. In the era of COVID-19, they can also serve as a wellspring of support and encouragement.

These micro influencers are the people you want as leaders of your brand community. They produce beautiful content, they’re authentic in their approach, and most importantly, they’re trusted by their followers. When you have a genuine network of micros recommending your products, portraying how they help during this time of need, and highlighting how they fit into their relatable lifestyles, it solidifies your brand as a sound, meaningful, engaging purchase during this time of uncertainty.

There is No Time Like the Present

Many brands are waiting for a “better” time. But, even as the economy opens back up, we’re in the new normal. And that normal has been, and continues to be, fluid. But of what remains the same: Consumers crave connections, and you have something to offer them while helping out during one of the most challenging times in the past century.

United NationsFrom retail to hospitality, every industry will have to revisit their marketing strategy to ensure they’re reaching and resonating with their audience. We’re in uncharted territory, but know you don’t have to navigate it alone.

Align your brand with a network of influencers who can be your voice, social proof, and your community. Furthermore, when you work with ApexDrop, you have a team of seasoned campaign managers to guide you through the entire campaign process. If you’re interested in learning more about how we help brands join in the conversation, visit our contact page today.