The future of Influencer Marketing: Their new role post Covid-19 The future of Influencer Marketing: Their new role in a post-Covid-19 world Influencer marketing is an effective tool to generate awareness and conversion for products, businesses or services. With the Covid-19 pandemic still set to be a part of our lives for the near future, the way in which both influencers and businesses alike should approach an influencer marketing strategy has shifted. The psychology of the consumer has also shifted. The fear of contracting the virus, social distancing, financial strain and job insecurity, have all highlighted what really matters for many if not most people across the globe. This has meant a change in priorities from spending money on non-essentials, to spending time with loved ones. Psychological paradigm shift Before the world turned upside down in 2020, influencer feeds showcased aspirational lifestyles from behind-the-scenes sneak peeks at fashion shows, rubbing shoulders with celebrities at elite parties and travelling to picturesque destinations many of us could only dream of visiting. As the year progressed and the grip of Covid-19 on the world grew tighter, these same feeds started to look very different. Sun-drenched portraits of wooden boardwalks on the shores of the Caribbean changed to shots taken on the living room couch. Visits to quirky bakeries and upmarket gyms have morphed into homemade banana bread and living room workouts. Beyond the change in content; there is a bigger and more significant shift taking place, which could see the downfall of many influencers who do not pivot their content models to meet shrinking client budgets or learn to understand – and meet – the changing needs of what audiences want to see and engage with. New economic reality Brands are stepping back from lucrative sponsorship deals and advertising revenue is plummeting as the pandemic pushes business, big brands and consumers alike into a new economic reality. Businesses are taking a second look at the cost of marketing expenditure and when some employees have faced retrenchment, hiring big-ticket influencers gives pause for thought when it comes to value delivery. Traditionally there has been a huge cost difference between different categories of influencers. With such a fundamental shift in where the world is heading, this calls for influencer culture to adjust costing models to remain a viable and relevant choice for more brands. There has long been a move to begin favouring nano – and micro influencers – not only from a cost perspective, but also from an exclusivity and authenticity point of view. The pandemic is likely to expedite this shift that would change the influencer landscape even more dramatically. Consumers are becoming bolder in expressing their desire for valuable and authentic content. Countless international influencer studies over recent years have shown that authenticity is the main reason influencers are trusted, which can be seen in the content consumption habits of consumers. Individuals, like Juliette Pauling, creator of ‘The Andersons’, soared to influencer status from nowhere, simply because she created relevant content that delighted people trapped at home during lockdown. Equally so, many entertainment figures saw an increase in their following during hard lockdown because they took their talent from stage to device. Actors, musicians and comedy characters who could not perform due to event closures, pivoted to keep themselves relevant by entertaining us from the comfort of their living room or even their bed (we’re looking at you Mark Lottering and Schalk Bezuidenhout). However, this was not just a shift in content, but also a survival strategy through which many also earned much needed income. The key learning out of these successes draws down to one simple tactic – creating relevant, authentic content for users. With a world in a state of flux, it has provoked a reconfiguration of the influencer age and the content that they create. When the pandemic ends, the way influencers help brands connect with end consumers will be radically changed… and probably for the better.