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The Power of Influence During a Crisis

Entrepreneur and businessman Tony Hsieh once noted that “a great brand is a story that never stops unfolding”. Brands and agencies work to tell their stories throughout the year, strategising and planning the chapters which will keep audiences engaged and maintain the sense that they are part of a bigger narrative and a wider community.

But for many brands, the current health crisis means that their story has been put on pause. Covid-19 has disrupted the daily lives of consumers and businesses around the globe, turning plans and strategies on their heads. This disruption has thrown storytelling plans for many brands out the window, as production capacity is dramatically reduced and tentpole events that you would typically plan around are cancelled.

However this is no time for brands to stop communication with their audiences - instead we need to make the most of the tools still at our disposal. As the world moves to life at home, web and social media traffic has seen a stratospheric 70% uplift - while Nielsen predicts a 60% rise in video streaming.

But more than this, there is an overriding desire from consumers for brands to stay in their lives. A global Kantar survey found that 92% of consumers think brands should keep advertising, with 78% believing that brands should help them where appropriate in their daily lives.

There is a clear opportunity for brands to leverage this dramatic shift in consumer behaviour and influencers are emerging as a reliable and effective way to do this.

Research by Obviously found there is a 33% increase in brands looking to utilise influencers to create their photo and video assets. It also unearthed a 50% reduction in creative costs on average when working with influencers in place of a production studio. And most importantly, it showed there is a 40% increase in ad performance of influencer-created content in social ads.

While slightly closer to home in Finland, the government declared social media influencers as ‘key workers’ - with government officials noting that influencers play a key role in disseminating information on social media - particularly amongst young audiences. And it makes sense. Influencers have always been working from home - they are experts in creating content remotely and creating it quickly too. Combining this expertise and agility with the increased online engagement we see now is a powerful combination for brands - especially with many other marketing channels paralysed by the crisis.

Beyond these metrics - there is the unquantifiable impact of influencers being real people. In an era of social distancing, the power of human connection should not be underestimated. In these unprecedented times, influencers can allow brands to marry their sales targets with a broader message of positivity or promoting public health efforts.

Great brands are stories that never stop unfolding. As the world is turned on its head, brands need to leverage the channels which allow them to stay connected to audiences through this experience, and ensure their story continues to be told.