Declared as pandemic on the 11th of March by WHO, the novel COVID-19 disease affected our lives in many ways. Unable to work, shop, travel or go outside, many people are left in turmoil due to coronavirus.
But not only an offline ecosystem was touched by the pandemic. The digital world with Internet service providers, online video hostings, and social media are facing changes and rethink their future, too. Instagram, for instance, launched Co-Watching and a special Stay Home sticker, Facebook is developing a coronavirus-themed reaction button, and nearly every social media channel now has a specific content section dedicated to the latest COVID-19 updates.
Social media are experiencing not just rapid use growth during the pandemic, but also severe alterations in influencer marketing and users’ behaviour. So we in Combin have taken the liberty of analysing the pandemic influence on Instagram.
It’s corona time for Instagram influencers
Influencer marketing and bloggers are experiencing uncertainty. Their work is mostly based on partnerships with brands, attending events and travelling. Now, due to the social distancing, the last two pillars of influencers’ routine have to be forgotten for an uncertain while.
Though brands still consider influencer marketing as an actionable way of promotion and work with influencers even during the quarantine, bloggers have lost the lion’s share of their income and are made to adjust their Instagram content.
Based on the Attain’s findings, influencers have lost on average 33% of their potential earnings and just over 10% of influencers saw their earnings go from something to absolutely nothing.
Blatantly, fashion and travel bloggers are influenced more than others.
“It’s a strange time for us all”
The first influencers who felt the consequences of the COVID-19 quarantine and border shutdowns were travel bloggers. For travel influencers, quarantine means cancellation of all sponsored trips and campaigns, and therefore, income cuts. Many of them don’t see any new enquiries, and almost all of their marketing contracts are either cancelled or postponed.
‘It’s a strange and unprecedented time for all of us. For travel bloggers and others who make their career from travelling, there’s a lot of uncertainty about the future. However, there’s a lot we can do to halt COVID-19 and make the most of our time at home,’ says La Carmina, a fashion and travel blogger with 35,000 followers on Instagram.
According to the Attain’s report, 66% of influencers are earning less than what they would usually make, and travel influencers have been impacted the most — losing on average 47% of their potential earnings.
‘While travel is one of our main pillars of content, we have taken this challenge as an opportunity to pivot, creating videos and articles that offer value in the current state of the world,’ said Scott and Collette, travel journalists and TV hosts.
But some of them keep on publishing old travel pictures and get criticised by the audience for being dishonest.
‘I understand that the tickets are cheap now, but think of others,’ says one of Nelydia Senrose’s followers on Instagram under her travel shots from Brazil. And followers of Farah Nabilah, a Malaysian actress, wish her to enjoy the honeymoon in Maldives and “don’t come back to Malaysia”.
Fashion influencers tailor aesthetics to the shutdown
Major fashion events among which are Coachella, Cannes, and the Met Gala have been cancelled or postponed. This means that sponsored opportunities for fashion bloggers also came to a halt.
But cancelled plans are not the only alteration Instagram fashion influencers face these days. Now, they also need to change their whole content strategy and still remain enthralling for their audience. When Instagrammable places and fancy cafes shuttered on the quarantine, influencers are rethinking their content making habits and pivoting home activities — workout, cooking, beauty tutorials, and video creation.
Before the COVID-19 shutdown, the content of fashion bloggers like Ambrabny, Natalie Oettgen, Caroline Daur, and others was full of street style shots and fashionable events. Now the content is tending to be more personal with influencers wearing pyjamas or loungewear and taking pictures with their family.
And those who can’t but get bored are finding new ways of keeping themselves entertained. George Serventi, a British fashion journalist, launched the #HomeCouture hashtag under which he re-creates high fashion looks from the world-renowned fashion designers.
The challenge was quickly echoed by Instagrammers who reconstructed the fashion masterpieces by Alexander McQuinn, Balenciaga, Margiela, Comme Des Garçons and other designers.
#QuarantinePillowChallenge is yet another challenge which appeared just recently and has grown more than ten times in one week.
Virtual influencers are an option
Digital models gain millions of Instagram followers and collaborate with international fashion houses like Prada, Givenchy and Maison Margiela. And some of them even are being activists and partnering with the World Health Organization.
#BeMyQuarantine on Instagram
If some Instagrammers are facing hard times and see nothing but uncertainty, others get the most out of the COVID-19 shutdown. And the majority of new accounts created during the quarantine demonstrate this better than anything else.
Covid Classics was created just recently by four roommates who love art and already got 80,000 of followers. These guys reconstruct famous art objects with the stuff in their house using no filters or edits.
A digital interpretation of the popular show Bachelor is entirely on Instagram, and instead of the rose, girls get a face mask as a reward. The Quarantined Bachelor version has the same purpose: find a perfect match for a guy. The account already has 5,000 followers and seems to have more than one season.
If you feel bored or depressed due to the shutdown, check The Quarantine Crew account where “a bunch of pals are being silly during the quarantine”.
The Social Distance Project is an Instagram diary that compiles everyday drama during the lockdown. And if you’re looking for someone to #BeYourQuarantine, the quarantine dating service Love Is Quarantine is what you need.
Hashtags are what describes the lockdown on social media. The social distancing and the new quarantine reality also reflects on Instagram. The #StayHome hashtag counts more than 13 million posts and is a proper movement now.
Instagram even launched a special Stay Home sticker that collects all the Stories from the accounts you’re following to inspire and motivate you to stay inside and follow the WHO recommendations.
And of course, the social distancing couldn’t do without COVID-related challenges and flash mobs. #IStayHomeFor flashmob and #StayHomeChallenge are to name a few.
Many celebrities and influencers, including Ashley Graham or ChicAma, take part in the challenge and share why it’s so important to stay home at the moment.
No official data exist to estimate how the pandemic will affect influencers and creators. Still, a slight glance at the cancelled events and postponed campaigns showcases marketing strain for the influencers and businesses.
Yet, we can be sure that the lockdown and its consequences will not vanish without a trace for brands and opinion leaders. At least now it shows some of them don’t know how to adapt indoors; meanwhile, others change their strategies and keep thriving.