How the coronavirus is changing the influencer business, according to marketers and top Instagram and YouTube creators
- Marketers and digital creators are adjusting to rapid changes in the influencer-marketing industry as the coronavirus continues to spread globally.
- As with most businesses in the ad industry, professionals are trimming budgets, cancelling events, and looking for alternative revenue streams.
- Business Insider spoke to influencer-marketing professionals across the industry to better understand how they are adjusting their businesses to continue to earn a living during the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic turmoil.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
As the near-term effects of the coronavirus outbreak continue to be felt across the global economy, businesses and creators in the influencer-marketing industry are doing their best to adapt.
Influencers have seen their sponsorship deals shut down and events cancelled, with many shifting their focus to alternative revenue streams that allow them to continue to earn a living without leaving their homes.
Influencer-marketing agencies are seeing brands postpone campaigns while also observing that engagement on social-media posts is higher than normal as more consumers spend time in physical isolation.
Advertisers are also discovering that the influencer-marketing business model could be particularly well-suited to a time in which DIY ad content filmed at home remains viable while commercial photo shoots are shut down.
Business Insider spoke to influencer-marketing professionals across the industry to better understand how they are adjusting their businesses to continue to make a living during the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic turmoil.
Travel and event-based opportunities have shut down for influencers
Instagram influencers and YouTube creators who earn money through sponsorships are facing a decline in business because of the coronavirus outbreak.
"I think a lot of people in the travel industry are holding their breath," said travel blogger Oneika Raymond, who has 84,900 Instagram followers. "Companies are reluctant to take on anything new and therefore that is impacting the income of creators."
Travel influencer Lauren Bullen who currently lives in Bali and is known as @gypsea_lust on Instagram with 2.1 million followers, said all her paid trips had been canceled.
Influencers and marketers are shifting strategies to continue to earn a living
Influencers are starting to switch up their revenue strategies, focusing on long-term bets like direct-to-consumer businesses or alternative revenue streams like consulting, teaching, and coaching.
"I think focusing on the long term, and setting adjusted and realistic goals every day to keep you focused and not distracted by short-term blues, helps me a ton," said Christina Vidal, an Instagram influencer.
Creators have cut back on travel to influencer events and seen brand deals shut down or postponed, focusing instead on long-term projects, YouTube revenue, and their roots making user-generated content at home.
Read the full post: Instagram and YouTube stars are shifting strategies as some influencer-marketing sectors hit a 'standstill,' focusing on income streams like directly selling products and online coaching
Some "collab houses" are closing their doors
Rihanna announced at a launch party earlier this month that her cosmetics brand, Fenty Beauty, which has over 400,000 followers on TikTok, would be joining the TikTok "collab house" trend.
Collab houses, like Sway LA or Hype House, are a popular trend among influencers, and a way for these stars to create videos for TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat. Depending on the situation, influencers can either live together or simply come to the house to create videos. Rihanna chose five TikTok creators to stay at the house and post content on the Fenty Beauty account.
But Fenty Beauty House has now temporarily closed out of caution due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Another collab house, Sway LA - which is owned by the TikTok talent management company, TalentX Entertainment - told Business Insider that it was "monitoring the situation and will do everything within our power to keep the members of Sway and their fans safe. If that requires us to cancel/postpone events in the works, we will most certainly do so."
How the coronavirus could change the influencer-marketing industry
In a recent report, Izea, a company that connects marketers with influencers, studied the impact the coronavirus pandemic could have on the influencer-marketing industry.
The report found that despite increased social-media usage, the prices paid per post on all social media may fall dramatically in the short term and continue to drop, depending on the length of the coronavirus outbreak and its overall impact.
During the last recession, the average cost of a sponsored post fell by 62.7% between 2008 and 2010, according to Izea's data.
And as brand deals get put on hold, influencers and marketers should consider mixed-compensation models and revised structures to manage costs and improve overall return on investment, Izea said.
What are brands thinking as the situation evolves?
"We're at an interesting point where brands are in a limbo area where they're kind of waiting to see what happens before they start spending their budgets as normal," said Anish Dalal, CEO of the influencer-marketing agency Sapphire Apps.
Read our key takeaways from the report: An influencer-marketing agency made a 68-page report on how the coronavirus could change the industry. Here are the 5 key takeaways.
Influencer marketers say engagement on sponsored posts has soared the last few weeks
But even as campaigns get canceled, the ones that remain get more engagement.
As more people stay home in an effort to help contain the spread of the new coronavirus, social-media use appears to be increasing. Influencer marketers are seeing a spike in ad impressions and user engagement on sponsored posts on apps like TikTok and Instagram.
The influencer marketing agency Obviously said it's seen a 76% boost in the number of "likes" on sponsored posts on Instagram in the past two weeks.
"Everyone is home and is on TikTok actively, and everyone's social distancing," said Mae Karwowski, the company's founder and CEO. "We're just consuming so much more content."