Amid Covid-19, political unrest and economic instability, people are searching for more ways to genuinely interact, feel connected and keep entertained as a distraction. Perhaps this is best shown by the recent rise of TikTok, which is estimated to have nearly 800 million monthly active users.
During the upcoming weeks and months, time spent on devices consuming content is projected to increase by 50% per household. To put this into perspective, Zenith reported that in 2019 US adults spent about 3.5 hours a day on mobile internet devices. That means brands need to adapt their strategies to remain both present and relevant.
Engaging with digital talent is an effective way to increase share of voice and relay more personalised brand messaging. The new norms of social distancing and self-isolation are forcing us to foster a sense of community through digital and empower audiences to become part of the conversation. As we become more confined to our homes, both brands and talent could experience increased views, rising follower counts and higher levels of engagement on their online platforms. But you should remain close to the true values at the heart of your brand and don’t be blinded by numbers; often relevance in relation to subject matter is more important than reach.
While IRL activations are put on hold, this is the moment to create a conversation with audiences, making use of the whole digital ecosystem and all of the different tiles within each platform. Look to do this with purpose, while also fostering a sense of support, community and acknowledgement of what the world is experiencing right now.
In these uncertain times, we are looking for interactions with both brands and talent that are transparent, authentic and purposeful. Here are some thoughts on how brands can put this into action.
Remember your core values
This is when they matter most and should be front and centre. Strengthen brand values and build trust with your audience by creating purpose-led or entertaining content. This may seem at odds with your regular influencer strategy, but this is nothing new for those who often talk about their "brand purpose".
Make content that lives beyond your feed
Emotive content that resonates beyond the surface of the Instagram feed will help brands connect in an intimate, authentic and personable way. This can be achieved through considered long-form content on IGTV, nostalgic and sentiment-driven content that speaks to moments of the past or through formats that actively engage your audience and ask for immediate interaction, such as going live or using question stickers or polls on Instagram Stories.
Experiment with format
Take the opportunity to ignite conversation by working with alternative and entertaining new formats. Participating in or starting a meme-able moment such as a TikTok challenge, for example, often encourages people to get creative. Any campaign that encourages user-generated content also helps to foster a sense of community – something people are striving for in times of social distancing.
Gamification of content also serves as a useful entertainment-led format to engage a new audience and provide an unexpected but welcome distraction for existing followers.
Combining all of the above and using both short- and long-form formats will help brands maintain close affinity with their audience during these unprecedented times.
Importantly, take this moment to consider that so much of the influencer content that we see on a daily basis provides a glimpse into a life that many feel is unachievable. So take a step back and realise that influencer content doesn’t have to be perfect, that often the most thumb-stopping content is something that is honest, raw and relatable.
Be the aggregator, be the entertainer, be the storyteller, be the voice of your own authority – but be human.
Charlotte Hoare is senior strategist, talent and partnerships and Aaron King is influencer director at ITB Worldwide