Welcome back to our eighth and final Sofa Session of 2020 – a whole year of zooming best-in class social expertise straight to your screens.
SOFA SESSIONS #2: HOW BRANDS CAN HARNESS THE POWER OF INFLUENCERS
Welcome to the second of our ‘Sofa Sessions’. An in-depth look at the world of influencers from the comfort of our sofas to the comfort of yours.
Influencer strategist Gemma Glover hand-picks specialists to take on a hot topic in the influencer sphere. This week Gemma discussed how influencers are adapting to the new normal and how brand partnerships can have a positive impact during lockdown. Joining Gemma was Eleanor Wilcox, social media manager for Next, Beth Atkins, Communications Manager for Clinique and Estee Lauder and Emily Bell, Social Media and Influencer Manager for George at Asda.
Like all businesses, the influencer community is adapting to life under the COVID cloud, but there are many silver linings and opportunities to create impactful content. With digital and social traffic skyrocketing and influencers seeing a 76% increase in accumulated likes on their paid ads on Instagram, brands need to adapt their content strategies to engage with audiences and understand how influencer collaborations need to change as part of that plan.
CONTENT DURING COVID
One of the biggest challenges brands are facing is adapting their messaging to a new audience need.
There’s been a shift, audiences don’t react well or are indifferent to straightforward sales messages. Content now has a lot more work to do. It needs to be entertaining, inspiring, deliver the message of “we’re all working through this together”, as well as being relevant to the brand. It can feel a little exhausting. But it’s not, there is a solution.
At Next the social team, with ENGINE, has developed five content pillars for their influencers; home workouts, home inspiration, productivity and feel good moments. These are all areas that Eleanor at Next knows they have a level of authority, “We’re not going to tell people what to eat, that’s not what we do”. Emily at George has found a slightly different route that works for them. They’ve also had to branch out into new areas of content and put faith in their influencers to add a layer of authority, “We’re not experts in [other] fields, but our followers will trust us to find the people that are.”
In some ways this is going back to the basics with influencers and putting authenticity at the heart. See influencers as a method of extending your brand messaging, not just a billboard for what you already do. Never forget, make sure the right influencers deliver the right message for your brand.
THE AUDIENCE IS ALWAYS RIGHT
The panel agreed that audiences are currently sensitive to messaging, and creating content that resonates at this time can be tricky.
The approach from Estee Lauder and Clinique has been to actively listen to their audience rather than dictate to them, helping to foster trust.
Beth had this to say, “We’re always conscious that we’re making the right content with the right messaging. We went out to our followers. It felt like a good time to get them super involved our strategy. By bringing them into that conversation it means that when they see some paid ads then they know that it is relevant to them.”
QUALITY CONTENT OVER QUALITY PRODUCTION
It’s not just the content of the content that brands are looking at.
It’s the look and feel. High production, glossy videos are out the window and User Generated Content (UGC) is back in vogue. Emily said that at George they’re a great believer in lower production edits having a place on social – “We’re seeing the less edited content resonating more with our audience. We’re trying Zoom and Facetime shoots. We’re using a lot of UGC, it’s relatable content that people want to see. We’re treating content creators differently. We’re not looking for campaign shots.”
BACK TO BAU?
The answer from the panel was a resounding “no”. By broadening the areas they talk about whilst still delivering brand messaging, they’ve seen an uptick in reach and engagement. They’ve also broadened their meaning of what an influencer is, it’s no longer someone outside of the business with millions of followers, they are now looking internally to employees that are able to talk with passion and deep knowledge about their products.
An influencer’s relationship with a brand has fundamentally shifted. Inspiration is far more important than aspiration. Audiences are craving authentic connections with brands, never before has #NoFilter been more apt.
The next of our ‘Sofa Sessions’ will take place on 28 May at 12.30 BST where we will be joined by an expert panel to discuss how influencers are transforming the fitness industry. If you would like to read our write up then head here.
You can watch this session below.
Never miss a moment.
After collaborative efforts achieved so much during 2020, Engine’s CSO argues the industry should work together to bring about change.