How Influencers Are Cultivating Community During Crisis

How Influencers Are Cultivating Community During Crisis
Cheyenne Desrosiers

As billions of people are forced to stay home to prevent the spread of coronavirus, industries across the board are feeling the painful consequences of the public health crisis, with many struggling to stay afloat. Those in the influencer space are facing these same issues, with the cancelation of events and travel, and the halting of brand partnerships. According to a recent Bloomberg report, many are pivoting away from polished, glamorous feeds in order to stay relevant. For a few reasons, influencers are in a unique position as the conduit connecting brands to their consumers while navigating the new normal. During a time of uncertainty, influencers are cultivating community in a more personal and authentic way than ever before.

Creators Building Community… Virtually

In the April segment of D1A’s, The Ones to Know, where we highlight diverse creators in the influencer space, we featured influencers who are helping others and inspiring us all while we #StayAtHome. Overall, this represents a larger trend in the industry, in which influencers are using their influence for good by supporting those in need and cultivating a strong community. By authentically engaging with their followers, opening a two-way dialogue, and learning about what causes are important to them and highlighting those, influencers are deepening their relationships with their followers. They’re using livestreams, Q&As, and polls on IG to interact in a more present capacity, as well as opening up and showing raw emotion. For example....

@thenotoriouskia is tuning into her followers’ needs, offering virtual consulting via Zoom for aspiring content creators.

@lindseysimcik (who we’ve built a great relationship with through our Amex work) shared an image of her crying with the text “anyone else need an afternoon cry?” in an Instagram Story.

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@adamjk is supplying inspirational content to his followers, doing mental health check-ins on IG Live (#client), and taking care to respond to comments on his IG Grid posts.

@thecatchmeifyoucan created an interactive geography course called #CatchMeInClass, taught by herself every week on Friday.

Overall, influencers are connecting with their followers in new and unique ways to create engaging content and form deeper relationships. All of this leads to a more personal and direct relationship between influencers and followers which ultimately presents an opportunity for the right brands.

A Place for Brands to Participate

Brands can play an important role during the shift to more personal and direct relationships between influencers and their followers. Deeper connections mean more loyalty, engagement, and trust. Currently, sponsored ads are seeing higher engagement, with one influencer marketing agency reporting a 76% increase in daily accumulated ‘likes’ on posts for IG influencer campaigns in the first half of March.

Within crisis there is opportunity, and for brands that means authentically hearing from and connecting with (potential) consumers through influencers. Moreover, it’s an opportunity for them to truly showcase how they can provide value now and in the long term. According to a survey by Influence Central, 89% of influencer respondents want to work on “feel good” brand campaigns and “philanthropic efforts,” which aligns with how most brands are communicating with consumers at this time.

Post-Quarantine Predictions

So, what will the influencer space look like after quarantines end and people get back to “normal” routines in 3, 6, 9 months from now? For one, consumers will continue looking for those close, reciprocal relationships formed during quarantine. They will expect influencers to be responsive to their input and continue being authentic in the content they are sharing. It’s likely that the transparency we’re seeing from influencers is here to stay, as influencers take on even more of a responsibility to keep it real with their followers. Plus, the more casual use of Instagram has put a significant dent in the usual overly curated nature of content on the platform.

Similarly, there is a rebranding opportunity for influencers. By entertaining followers from within the four walls of their homes, influencers have had to pivot out of their established space and deliver diverse content. This has resulted in more unique and creative content from many creators, who will retain these new skills, especially knowing how their audiences respond to and engage with such content.