How influencers have helped brands during lockdown

Influencer marketing was in a state of flux before lockdown and it was starting to be challenged by marketers, influencers themselves and, particularly, their followers.  There was a bit of a backlash beginning.

So has Covid-19 seen the end of influencer marketing as we know it, or has it too experienced a pandemic pivot?

The answer is, a bit of both: with the arrival of lockdown, we saw the end of the fancy launches and gatherings (obviously) and there’s no doubt this left a bit of a hole in their content.  Quite a large number have dropped out of the picture altogether. But for the more established bloggers and influencers, there has been a genuine opportunity for marketers to engage at a micro-influencer level with some really remarkable results for local businesses, at a time they’ve needed it most.

For example, with their doors closed, our favourite eateries had to consider alternative ways in which to keep the wolf from the door. We saw restaurants pivot to offer delivery and takeaway services, as well as clever offerings of ‘cook at home kits’.

This is where social media influencers have come into their own. Many of us have been “influenced” to try what we’ve seen being tried, tested and devoured on our weekend timelines. It has worked a treat.  And what’s more, with bragging rights attached to securing limited supplies of weekend dinner kits, it became something of a competitor sport. If you were lucky enough to bag one of the limited number of meals, you simply couldn’t NOT share it on social media, tagging the restaurant and giving them all the user-generated content they needed to perpetuate the process on their Instagram stories – genius!  We all turned influencer for a little while, safe in the knowledge that we would be supporting a local business we care about.  Now THIS is the kind of influencer marketing we can all get behind: social media for good.

Although pubs and restaurants are getting set to reopen, we hope these home cook kits are something they will take forward in some form.  A few of those we’ve enjoyed include Noble’s (@nobleholywood) unrivalled 3-course dinner menu, French Village’s (@frenchvillage) superb pizza kit, Bumble & Goose’s (@bumbleandgoose) delicious bakery treats, Wolf & Devour’s (@wolfanddevour) outstanding burgers, lavish sharing-platters from Ronnie’s (@ronniesbelmont) and huge cocktail jars from Alexander’s (@alexandersofholywood).

Interestingly, we’ve also seen some newcomers like Lucky Devil (@luckydevilbelfast) from Tony O’Neil, the chef behind Coppi (@coppiebelfast) and Buba (@bubabelfast), and GAGA (@gagabelfast), a new pop-up restaurant from Grainne Maher and chef partner Alan Higginson, reap the benefits of using social media influencers to get the word out.

Next week we’ll see lockdown restrictions lifted further with the opening of hotels and guesthouses and after a really tough four months for the tourism industry, the idea of a staycation is now looking really appealing.

Just this week, a local influencer spent a few days at lakeland cottages in Fermanagh and thanks to her social media posts, they were fully booked for the WHOLE SUMMER before the day was done.

So if you’re in the hospitality and tourism industry and looking for ways in which to market your business as we emerge from lockdown, don’t doubt the impact and effectiveness of influencer marketing. If you connect with the right influencers, everybody – businesses, influencers and consumers – can gain real value. So act fast – it really works!

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