The rise of India's influencer economy during the second wave of COVID-19
‘When Meher, a 19-year-old student from Delhi required an urgent plasma donor for her father, she took to social media. Little did she know, a popular social media influencer would share her Insta story, connecting her with 3-4 genuine leads and finally finding a donor for her father, who’s now getting better day by day.’
Amid the unprecedented and devastating second onslaught of COVID-19 in the country, the aforementioned is not an isolated incident. In fact, hundreds of social media influencers with cumulative followers going into the millions, have become resource aggregators, information providers, SOS message broadcasters, and in many cases, saviors.
While the number of cases continues to skyrocket and the burden on the country’s healthcare services increases, influencers are helping people identify and find COVID resources that are highly scattered across cities. For this, they are leveraging their greatest strength – a vast network spread across multiple geographies.
The growth of influencer marketing in the age of COVID-19
Even before influencers became a beacon of hope amid the grim pandemic situation, influencer marketing was seeing a significant surge in the wake of the viral outbreak. Influencers had become a key part of the media mix for marketers across new and established brands. In fact, research suggested that over 50% of marketers were planning to increase influencer marketing spends in 2021.
Several factors worked together to propel the influencer industry towards accelerated growth during the first and second waves of the viral outbreak. First and foremost, with a majority of individuals staying at home with the initial nationwide lockdown and current statewide curbs, screen time across all age groups, demographics, and socio-economic regions increased drastically. The time individuals spend on social media has also seen a surge and content consumption is at an all-time high. This invariably helps content creators reach a larger audience and make a wider impact with their content.
Moreover, since production houses are largely shut, a majority of the content creation taking place is at the influencer level. Recognizing the impressively high quality and engagement levels of the content being created by influencers, the biggest brands of the country are also embracing the influencer marketing trend.
Finally, a very intrinsic characteristic of influencers coming to the fore is empathy. Influencers are empathetic of the ongoing situation and promote brands in a way that is relatable through content that is relevant for today’s consumers. Understanding that end-users no longer relate or respond to celebrity endoresements, brands are turning to influencers who reach out to consumers as peers, allies, or trusted friends and not just promoters.
As brands and influencers are both cognizant of the sensitivity of the current situation, brand outreach through influencers at this time is gentle and never pushy. Influencers are getting the message across in a way that resonates with your audience. This, combined with their consistent efforts to connect donors/helpers with those in need, is bolstering the faith that people have in influencers today.
Influencer marketing in a post-COVID world
While this is not the first time a crisis has occurred in the world, never before has the same crisis affected the entire humankind at the same time. In this scenario, one thing is clear as day – we are all in this together and the journey to the light at the end of the tunnel will also be in solidarity. That the influencer community is at the forefront of the countrywide movement of humans helping humans during this time of crisis, is a matter of pride for the entire industry.
On the other side of the pandemic, we will see brands holding on to their messages of empathy and increasingly working with influencers. In doing so, they will ensure that they are not hard selling their products but building a connection with their consumers - essentially making a promise to be there in the good times and bad, just like our influencers are, right now.