|The pandemic has encouraged social media influencers to use their platforms to voice concerns, share lighthearted humor, and spread awareness. / Photo by: Diego Cervo via Shutterstock|
As Covid-19 afflicts millions of people worldwide, social media influencers are forced to rethink how their posts will reflect the new reality. If they used to have to keep their feeds pristine, such as by wearing an attractive outfit, attending events, or using filtered snaps, now they have to take make-up free selfies or quick workout videos while posting on social media.
The pandemic has encouraged social media influencers to use their platforms to voice concerns, share lighthearted humor, create content that will lift people’s spirits, and spread awareness. UAE-based fashion influencer Ola Farahat, for instance, shared via Arab News that “there is something empowering about sharing positivity” as the world has become saturated with depressing news because of the pandemic.
Farahat has launched a fitness challenge to show her gratitude to the doctors and nurses fighting for their country every day.
Social media influencers’ role in combating Covid-19
According to the University of London’s lecturer in sociology Dr. Stephani Alice Baker, social media influencers can help combat the spread of Covid-19 by using their platforms to enforce the stay-at-home mandates. Through their posts, they can encourage their audiences to adhere to the rules. She explained that since younger generations have a relatively low risk of mortality from the coronavirus, influencers can help encourage such demographic to comply with the social distancing and lockdown rules.
|According to Dr. Stephani Alice Baker, social media influencers can help combat the spread of Covid-19 by using their platforms to enforce the stay-at-home mandates. / Photo by: metamorworks via Shutterstock|
British fitness coach Joe Wicks is an example of this as he has been using social media to provide free at-home workouts to kids while there are still school closures. Influencers can also use their fame to promote diet and health or other ways to improve the immune system to be less susceptible to the virus. This has paved the way for the coining of the term “edutainment,” which means education and entertainment.
Los Angeles-based influencer marketing agency Xomad is also making efforts to reach out to social media influencers so they will be the ones to encourage their millennial followers. Xomad’s focus before the pandemic was to pair influencers with brands so they can drive purchases and engagement but it has now shifted its attention to help spread the word about the pandemic.
On his business trip to Bangladesh in January, Xomad’s CEO Rob Perry hoped to build a partnership with the local government. So, he pitched the country’s Information and Communication Technology Division to form a council comprising 500 influencers in Bangladesh, reports business news platform CNBC.
The group of 500 influencers will be tacking initiatives across the environment, health, technology, and education in the country. At that time, though, he did not expect that their negotiations would involve Covid-19 but it did pave the way for the creation of the Social Leader Council.
Social Leader Council in Bangladesh
In early April, Social Leader Council went live with about 200 influencers on board and members are planning to raise the numbers to 5,000. Perry said that the main role of the Council concerning the pandemic is to serve a channel for the government to issue important information that needs to be disseminated to the public. In the same way, influencers will help the government by informing them about fake news, misperceptions, and other concerns of the public.
The Xomad-Bangladesh government partnership was funded by the National Bank Limited. The partnership prefers to use influencers with about 5,000 to 250,000 followers so they can use their influence to help flatten the curve of the virus.
Why choose Bangladesh?
Perry said that he chose Bangladesh because nearly 54% of the population in the country is below the age of 34 and health officials have been stressing how millennials play a significant role in stopping the spread of the Covid-19. Furthermore, Bangladesh is a relatively new country in terms of word-of-mouth campaigns and influencers. This is why it will show the public what is possible if best practices are deployed from the beginning.
Influencer and model Al Fahad Bari from Dhaka, Bangladesh is a part of the social awareness campaign. He posted a photo on his Instagram account with the words “Let’s do a Superhero work – Stay Home and Stay Safe.” He said that people don’t have to do superhero acts like climbing a tower, jumping from a building, or fighting with villains. All those people need to do is stay home because it will save their family and other families too.
Social media and influencer marketing: statistics
As of October 2019, there were 35,368,000 Facebook users, 1,923,900 Instagram users, 9,437,000 messenger users, and 2,990,000 LinkedIn users in Bangladesh.
As social media users grow, so does influencer marketing. According to influencer marketing agency Mediakix, Instagram is the most important and impactful channel for influencer marketing with more than 1 billion users worldwide. The ease of content creation ushered the growth of micro-influencers or those with small followers between 10,000 to 50,000. YouTube is the second most important influencer marketing with 70% of social media influencers using it, followed by Facebook (45%), Blogs (44%), Twitter (33%), LinkedIn (19%), Pinterest (15%), Twitch (6%), and Snapchat (3%).
When asked what content format marketers find effective for influencer marketing, 78% of marketers said Instagram posts. Sponsored IG posts are easy to produce, publish, and approve. A single picture with caption requires less production effort and cost on the market of influencer marketers and is also a more affordable option for small firms that are still testing the effect of influencer marketing on their campaign or brand. The second choice of influencer marketers is Instagram Stories (73%). It has gained popularity as social media users also respond positively to stories as they perceive to be more authentic, less staged, and are easier to navigate.
Other content formats included are YouTube Video (56%), Instagram video (54%), and Blog Post (36%). The least preferred is Twitch Livestream (5%), and YouTube Live (10%). A previous study has also found that 6 in 10 teens follow advice from influencers over celebrities. This is because influencers have the power to create strong ties with their fans and maintain a more engaged audience.
As influencer marketing shows no signs of slowing even amid the pandemic, the platform can be used not just to increase brand awareness but to also reach audiences to help fight the pandemic.