Recently, I attended the ShopStyle Collective called “How to Navigate Influencer Marketing During COVID-19,” and while you are welcome to watch the presentation in full here, I wanted to synthesize the top five questions from the session for everyone’s knowledge. And thank you to Sabrina Lynch (Taylor Senior Vice President) for sharing the webinar with us!

 

The panel’s influencers, who are all NY-based lifestyle/fashion bloggers, are:

 

The 3 influencer panelists

 
1. What are the top trending categories and products during the COVID-19 situation?
 

Unsurprisingly, home items have seen a huge spike in traffic and orders, both on the everyday and luxury spectrum, but the curious thing are the specific items people are going after. Tie-dye has seen a 98% spike in loungewear sales, and shoe styles like Birkenstocks have gone up 727% in orders according to ShopStyle, as people want no-contact slip-on options for when they do go outside. And the number one kitchen item during this time? Bottle Openers and corkscrews.

 
2. What has shifted most in your channels during the pandemic?
 

All three of the influencers agreed that diversifying their platforms has become critical, now more than ever. Creating engaging, varied content that creates a full ecosystem of fans tuned in across Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, etc. is how to drive a passionate following, as opposed to focusing solely on what one is usually best known. Making content that’s on a schedule has also grown, as all of the influencers noted that they’ve held live activities with their fans, such as cocktail nights or a book club. These opportunities give fans something to look forward to with their favorite personalities, and the chance for brand integrations are still incredibly strong with that level of focused attention.

 
3. How do you post content during this time without coming off as insensitive?
 

The panelists believe it’s important to acknowledge the pandemic, while also providing an escape for their audiences. Those watching understand the situation going on, so brands that pretend everything is normal are doing themselves a disservice, but at the same time, those that consistently beat the “troubled times” drum will see attrition in fans that need something to take their mind off of things. Things like work from home tips, DIY projects around the house, and fun ways to use video chats have seen exponential growth and brought in lots of traffic because they make the best out of a bad situation. The one thing they all recommended avoiding was anything regarding personal travel, as negative backlash from the past month has stemmed mostly from influencers doing anything currently around leaving home unnecessarily.

 

Impact on influencer content

 
4. How should brands go about promoting products while people are stuck at home?
 

Interestingly enough, the influencers had all seen a tremendous amount of growth on the business coming through their sites in the past month, i.e. Caila noted that IG stories with products have increased in viewership by roughly 66% and Kat has seen affiliate revenue and blog traffic both up by 75%. The reason for this seems to be framing, according to Mary. Brands, especially in the personal care, retail and luxury sectors, can position their products as consumers investing in themselves, and that has proved to be the secret sauce for resonating with audiences. Some might consider luxuries to be the things to cut from their budgets now, but savvy brands are taking a different tact by saying these types of purchases are an investment in personal wellbeing and an act of self-care and self-love.

 
5. What will you take from this time to the future when we get past the pandemic?
 

Fostering a sense of community, regardless of the content itself, seems to be the overarching theme of what will last through this time. The influencers’ fans love having an intention or message behind any post, especially those that help educate and provide resources, whether it be on fashion, home activities, or just a place to get social interaction. In addition, people want to find ways to help, especially those in their same circles. They have seen so much interest in communicating ways to help struggling small businesses, friends’ projects that need support, etc. during this time that they recommend brands approach their content in the same way – be educational and caring for those who really need it.