Brands face ethical dilemma as the pandemic magnifies the field of influencer marketing
By Neha Puri
The pandemic opened new avenues in the field of digital marketing owing to the sudden increase in digital media traffic. With this came an unexpected surge in the quick adaptation of influencer marketing strategies by brands across the globe, including India.
Influencers who are generally “digital-first creators”, have a stronghold on their digital audience due to the personalized interactions which help in developing trust and authenticity. People constantly look upon the influencers for personal suggestions, tips, and content, and religiously follow them in several cases, which is the power of influencer marketing. People enjoy listening to influencers providing solutions and engaging their minds while in lockdown. Therefore, brands are continuously focused on harnessing this energy of authentic and prevalent voices for the promotion of their product/services.
Is Influencer marketing questionable during the pandemic?
Influencer marketing is an ever-growing avenue that fosters an integrated path across various fields. The Return-on-Investment (ROI) and reach of influencer marketing has made it a subject that can no longer be overlooked by brands wanting to promote their ideas, concept, products, or services. The new regulation by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) which makes it mandatory for all influencers bound promotional content in India to carry a disclaimer stating the status as advert/advertisement, has started discussions amongst the brand marketing teams.
However, one important aspect here is to note that influencers are like celebrities that promote products on TV advertisements. Hence, the only change in the outlook must be towards perceiving the influencers as brand ambassadors. This will, furthermore, help in connecting the brand to the influencer leading to a bigger impact on the audience.
The pandemic is only magnifying the field of influencer marketing helping the brands to amalgamate the digital market pool with their influencer marketing strategy slowly making it a primary advertisement medium rather than a secondary one. Apart from this here are few other things that brands must follow-
- Adapting a more inclusive approach towards influencer marketing and communicating the same in the upcoming social media influencer campaigns. The need of the hour is to revitalize the influencer-brand model upgrading it beyond the constraints of just a business model.
- Rather than simply asking the influencers to promote their products on stories/posts/storefront/website etc., brands must focus on highlighting the business aspects/ideas that lay the foundation of the brand. This will help in developing a stronger brand image which will in the long run lead to sales.
- In the case of the F&B brands, the focus must be laid upon the chef, the atmosphere, and the sanitization. The brand ideology and purpose/vision must reflect in the ad campaigns which connect people to the brand. While digital media has a huge pool of users, owing to the vulnerability of the platforms, genuineness, and authenticity are the key to growth and hence make sure your content reflects the same.
- Brands must focus on providing value to the customers. Share recipes, DIY, tips, and methods to help the customers gain from your brand even without investing monetarily. On digital platforms, consider your audience’s time as money and through every brand interaction on the influencer’s platform, it mustn’t be just the influencer that connects, but also your brand that makes a mark through the message.
These are very crucial times and people are struggling to cope up with something or the other. So, the brands out there must be thoughtful about the same and offer help and kindness, rather than just selling their products. For instance, several brands are now using influencer marketing as a medium for storytelling and generating user-engaging content to pass on important social messages.
The pandemic has also made certain brands take a halt from product promotions to clear the digital space to float Covid related information. However, this is not a permanent step and sooner or later the brands will have to get back on promoting their product. The idea is to do so in a subtle way without harming the sensitive sentiments of the people.
Overall, the field of influencer marketing is here to say, opening some major opportunities for brands that correctly harness this tool. One must remember that digital media is all about time and messaging.
The author is CEO and founder of Vavo Digital. Views expressed are personal