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SOFA SESSIONS #7: HOW BRANDS AND INFLUENCERS ARE ADAPTING TO A NOT-SO-NORMAL CHRISTMAS
Welcome to our seventh Sofa Session – the series zooming best-in-class social expertise straight to your screens.
To talk all things festive, ENGINE’s Head of Influencer, Gemma Glover, was joined by Senior Brand & Campaign Manager for ASDA PR, Lizzy Peters; MD and Co-Founder of Mokkingbird Talent Management, Gemma Wheatley; Senior Brand PR & Social Officer for Next PR, Grace Kither; and Content Creator & member of the TikTok Brand Partnerships team, Ola Pelovangu.
As we head towards the festive period at rapid speed, we asked how brands and influencers are pivoting their content strategies for a Christmas like no other.
PROFESSIONAL JOY BRINGERS
With 63% of people agreeing brands should avoid lavish ad campaigns, all eyes are on the big names to find their niche this Christmas in the ever-changing COVID-19 landscape.
Gemma started by asking our panel what they think consumers want to see this year. Lizzy referenced the trends of micro and considered gifting, with consumers looking to buy a greater amount of smaller, but more thoughtful presents for friends, family and even neighbours.
Next have been very reactive to this, opening their online Christmas shop in October enabling earlier shopping, Grace told us, as well as ensuring all social copy shows a “great deal of empathy”.
Ola agreed, saying it is a brand’s job to “stay sensitive” to the current situation and to reflect this in their influencer marketing strategies. She remarked; “they (consumers) want professional joy bringers, people who aren’t there to sell them things, but they’re there to bring them in on the experience.”
IT’S BEGINNING TO SOUND A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS
Whilst Lizzy and Grace say loungewear and novelty are leading the charge for product trends in Q4, Ola claims it is audio that will be the hottest trend on social during the festive period.
She says that music driven content across sound-on platforms like TikTok will enable brands and creators to unlock a sense of festive nostalgia audiences are yearning for.
Gemma acknowledged this from her experience of talent management this year, with brands like M&S cutting their TV ads and “sinking budget into social” and a recent study by Whalar found content creators can be just as effective at driving an emotional response as TV if done right.
ZOOMING INTO THE FESTIVE SEASON
As the pace of Q4 picks up, there is increasing scepticism around how the festive period will look in the wake of COVID 19; Twitter reports 6 in 10 of us say that COVID-19 will take away some of our Christmas joy.
Nevertheless, Lizzy argues this provides brands with the opportunity to “push on the door of innovation and think about how we (brands) can engage influences virtually.” Next recently hosted a virtual press event, with Grace remarking their AW showcase on Google Hangout enabled them to display their new collections to international press as well as UK based journalists and influencers.
Whilst this is a short-term solution, Gemma doesn’t think this is sustainable for influencers moving forward who don’t get the same amount of content – such as ‘get ready with me’ posts – as they would get through an in-person event.
INFLUENCERS AREN’T JUST FOR CHRISTMAS FESTIVE SEASON
The conversation wrapped up with Ola re-iterating the need for brands to prioritise a value-led strategy across all of their channels not purely in the influencer space, saying she looks to partner with those who “showed up to take part in conversations like free school meals or mental health when it mattered most.”
The panel agreed whilst Christmas is the crux of the year, there is a growing need to work with influencers as brand advocates across the calendar, leveraging their ability to generate authentic conversations across a range of social channels.
The final Sofa Sessions of 2020 will take place at the beginning of December, where we will be joined by an expert panel to review the influencer landscape of 2020. If you would like to join us, to pre-register please email us.
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