In the span of six months, influencer marketing has experienced a decade’s worth of transformation this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, said Pierre-Loïc Assayag.
“The impact of COVID-19 on influencer marketing has been to act as an accelerant to trends that were already underway,” said Assayag, the chief executive officer and cofounder of Traackr, a data-driven company that specializes in influencer marketing globally.
An important and rising trend in beauty is that companies are putting more importance in the management of budgets for influencer marketing. There’s an increase in “scrutiny,” he said, when it comes to handling those budgets.
At the beginning of the health crisis, there was “a dip of about 37 percent on average” in paid partnerships during the first six months of 2020, Assayag noted. While the number of paid partnerships has been back up these last three months, it’s still lower than last year.
We’re “going forward into a new state where brands are much more demanding of their marketing departments, on what is the return on various partnerships,” said Assayag.
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Another change this year is that brands are preferring to partner with influencers who have larger audiences. Nano-influencers (with at least 1,000 followers) and micro-influencers (10,000 followers) have always been important since they tend to have loyal and engaged audiences. However, companies have been putting marketing money into those with larger numbers of followers. The hierarchy goes: influencers in the mid-range with 50,000 followers; macro-influencers with an audience of 500,000 people or more; those at the top with at least one million followers, and VIPs with five million followers or more.
With consumers home due to the health crisis, social media features like Instagram Live have been more popular than ever. There’s a growing list of “networks and content for brands to juggle,” said Assayag, adding that TikTok is the standout winner in popularity, up 541 percent this year in posting and collaboration content.
Assayag also discussed the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement. “Customers have built higher expectations from brands,” he said. There’s “a heightened level of attention to brand reputation and the risk of cancel culture.…This notion that brands need to participate in society and social issues is really a point that we strongly believe was very much under way, and COVID-19 has just put an acceleration into that trend.”
When it comes to learnings, Assayag said: “More than purpose itself, the thing that we are realizing with these experiences with the trends and COVID-19 is that there’s a need for brands to become more human…and [with budgets], how do we go about doing more with less.”
Looking ahead, he noted the rise of Twitch, the American video livestreaming service for gamers. “There’s something interesting there that’s worth mentioning,” he said.
And with retail closures and the rise of e-commerce, “there’s no going back” to business as it was, Assayag said. “It doesn’t mean physical retail is dead.…There’s a need for reinvention.”