According to a study by Broadcast Audience Research Council India and Nielsen India, there has been a 44% increase in time spent on social media in the week of March 28 - April 3 over a sample pre-covid period in January and February.
As television campaigns, product launches and ad film shoots remain on hold, brands are turning to influencers to stay connected with consumers. BFSI companies, health and hygiene brands, sportswear brands, OTT streaming apps and electronics brands are roping in influencers, who are adept at making videos with minimal equipment, to remain relevant to home-bound consumers.
The rise in time spent on social media during this time is also making a strong case for influencer marketing. According to a study by Broadcast Audience Research Council India and Nielsen India, there has been a 44% increase in time spent on social media in the week of March 28 – April 3 over a sample pre-covid period in January and February. The study says people are spending about four hours and 39 minutes per week on social networking apps on their smartphones.
Brands used influencer marketing initially to create awareness about the precautionary measures to fight the coronavirus infection. For instance, Dettol’s #HandWashChallenge on TikTok drew support from actor Kartik Aaryan and cricketer Mohammed Shami. Lifebuoy’s #LifebuoyKarona was popularised on TikTok by actor Shilpa Shetty, Badshah, and TikTok influencers Awez Darbar and Bhavin Bhanushali.
Ramakrishnan R, co-founder and director, Baseline Ventures, a celebrity management firm, says, “A number of brands from the BFSI and e-wallet categories also revived associations with influencers to inform people about the relevance of their services during the lockdown period.”
The government, too, roped in cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, actors Ananya Panday and Venkatesh, and athlete Anju Bobby George to urge people to practise precautionary measures, to avoid the spread of the virus.
Ever since the lockdown, brands from across the spectrum are spending their ad budgets on fresh influencer marketing initiatives.
“Since brands cannot expect sales now, they are focussed on creating curiosity among consumers about their products, and building brand recall. Therefore, influencers are being asked to create fresh content that could be demos or video reviews of products that have already been shipped to the influencer,” informs Ashutosh Harbola, co-founder and CEO, Buzzoka.
Dyson is one such brand that has sought influencers to demonstrate how its vacuum cleaner works. OTT platform Voot, too, got influencers to promote its original shows. Asian Paints has hired influencers to make home videos for its new Har Ghar Kuch Kehta Hai campaign, which promotes staying home.
“A lot of the influencer content is being shared through the vertical stories format, and not through posts,” points out Pranay Swarup, founder and CEO, Chtrbox. “Though viewers may have been accustomed to seeing videos with high production values from influencers, currently, they want to see authentic, relatable videos. The vertical format allows creators to make such content,” he adds.
Not for all
Influencer marketing at this juncture may not be prudent for all brands, experts say. Prashant Sharma, CMO, Nofiltr Group, says that fashion and beauty brands, in particular, cannot take advantage of the current trend as they are not essential products, and hence do not have much relevance right now.
Influencers, too, are exercising caution and picking projects fastidiously. “Promoting a product that has little or no bearing on the consumer during the lockdown could backfire on both the influencer and the brand,” Harbola notes.
The cost of hiring an influencer has remained largely unchanged, industry watchers say. “On one hand, brands have tightened their purse strings, while on the other, influencers are getting fewer opportunities to make money. As a result, influencers are unwilling to budge too much,” says Swarup. Typically, social media influencers with 50,000-1 lakh followers charge Rs 40,000 -1 lakh for a video post.