From Celebrities to Customers: Influencer Marketing in a Post-Covid World | by Gatsby | Oct, 2021

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Influencer marketing used to be limited to celebrities and a very select group of bloggers. But as social media usage has grown (there are now 4.48 billion people using it worldwide, every single day!), so has the number of influencers. Influencer is a broad term, defining anyone with at least 1k followers who has built a community of followers and has the ability to sway purchasing decisions.

Instagram is often credited with launching the influencer — did you know it was one of the first platforms to establish links between brands and influencers? With 500 million daily active users, it currently boasts the most influencers (reports suggest there are nearly 37 million influencers using the photo sharing app, accounting for nearly half of all influencers).

Brands were quick to recognize the role Instagram played in brand awareness and product discovery: 70% of businesses currently use it as a key marketing channel for commerce, and influencer marketing has become a key component of virtually every marketing strategy. This year, 55% of marketers plan to use Instagram for influencer marketing, and they’re putting big money behind it: the industry itself is expected to hit $13.8 billion this year, more than double what it was 2 years ago!

Influencer Marketing in a Post-Covid World

While influencer marketing has enjoyed a major growth spurt since its advent in 2016, there has been a marked shift in most ecommerce brands’ influencer marketing strategies over the past year, due to the change in the way business was conducted during and after the Covid-19 pandemic. With stay at home orders in place, brands not only found themselves entirely reliant on digital platforms to connect with their customers, they also had fewer resources to produce content. Necessity being the mother of invention, brands made do with limited resources available, turning to UGC and more lo-fi content to fill the void where in-house produced photoshoots would have been.

At the same time, influencers who made their living traveling around the globe on aspirational vacations also found themselves grounded at home, producing the same type of homemade content. The result? Covid-19 ushered in a new era of less polished Instagram content. And interestingly enough, customers, stuck at home themselves and craving authentic human connection, found this new content more relatable and authentic than the heavily edited, meticulously produced photoshoots of pre-pandemic. This created an opportunity for a remarkable touchpoint because as all marketers know, authenticity always reigns supreme.

The Rise of Micro and Nano Influencers: Bigger Isn’t Always Better

As the type of content shifted, so did influencer partnerships. While influencer partnerships are on the rise, brands are now more focused on micro and nano influencers and less on mega and celebrity influencers. The industry defines micro influencers as having 10k-50k followers, and nano influencers as having 1k-10k followers.

When you expand the definition of influencer to include anyone who has at least 1k followers, the number of potential influencers is suddenly exponentially greater than what it was just a few years ago, when partnerships were exclusively based on follower count. This opened up a world of opportunity for more influencer partnerships. Whereas follower count used to be the benchmark for determining a potential influencer partnership, now brands look to engagement rate, where mega influencers typically fall short.

Why sponsor a post by a superstar with millions of followers when you can partner with a micro or nano influencer with a smaller, but far more directly-engaged following.

Take the example of Tayshia Adams, co-host of The Bachelor and a mega influencer with 1.8 million followers. Her sponsored post with Nivea USA received an engagement rate of 1.8%, which is typical for a “celebrity for hire” post. Now compare that with a micro-influencer customer post from a partnership with Australian brand Famous Footwear. While the following is much lower, the authenticity is much more apparent as indicated by the 10.5% engagement rate it received.

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