How authentic content can help build brand affinity during the pandemic

Irfan Khan, Partner, YAAP Digital, writes about the growing content that influencers/ content creators have been churning out during the lockdown and stay at home period and how such content can help brands stay relevant through authentic and personalised content that audiences are craving to consume.

With the phase 4 of lockdown in place, our days continue to look more or less the same, but one aspect that has seen a steady rise since the beginning of this pandemic is data consumption. As per rating agency CRISIL, the data usage has gone up 25-30 per cent since the lockdown began on March 25. Every individual is digitally more active than ever as they consume news, updates on friends & family, and various forms of content for entertainment. This increase in content consumption means opportunities for the brands to engage with their target audiences and connect with them more than ever as consumers have become captive audience to their device(s).

The current COVID-19 situation has also increased the number of content that influencers/ content creators have been churning out with the availability of more time at hand. However, the nature of content has changed tremendously with the restrictions on their movement and limited accessibility, making it more connected to the life everyone is living now. Even with all the limitations, they have not stopped doing what they do best – create content. A key reason behind this is that there’s a growing demand for content everywhere. Here is where brands need to come in and make their presence felt to the audience. As per a survey conducted by YAAP Digital with influencers, 55% have said that the frequency of their content has increased compared to pre-COVID-19 times, while 60% of influencers have said that the engagement on their content has gone up during the lockdown.

Influencers and content creators are increasingly creating content that resonates with what people are going through in this current situation. People/ Audiences all around the world are all in the same situation and would want to see content which is more relatable and authentic. With both offices and studios locked down, influencers have become one of the best options for brands to stay connected and relevant with their audiences. With the right strategy, influencers and content creators can help brands stay relevant through authentic and personalised content that audiences are craving to consume.

Time to give value, not seek

In a crisis like this, brands should focus on connecting with their audiences and give them what they want to know or hear about. A crisis is never a good time to sell the brand, but tell about its brand values. Brands need to keep its audiences updated about the current situation and at the same time add value to the time they are spending at home by adding values with things like inspirational works, or productive sessions/ activities to support or lift up their audiences.

Right influencer & right content

More than ever, brands need to be more cautious about whom they partner with to send out their messages. While content created by influencers can be seen as a means of staying positive and normal besides the continuous discussions and updates around the pandemic, it is best to be careful and come out as an empathetic brand.

Brand authenticity = Brand affinity

Just as engaging the right influencer with authentic and right content for the brand is important, being genuinely connected with the audiences at times like this is very important. Influencers with their content can help share your brand messaging during this crisis and reassure audiences that you are standing with them in their times of need.

Some of the recent brand activations during the lockdown which managed to grab eyeballs and help connect the brands with its audience instantly include Kajal Aggarwal in #UPIChalega awareness activation, which was very relevant with the ongoing situation and looked like any other normal post out there with no studio or makeup or all the pomp and grandeur we usually see on a celebrity endorsement. Kiara Advani’s Mother’s Day #PondsIndia activation with her mom sitting out of their home answering to some personal questions in the most chilled out way with no makeup. Another noteworthy mention could be Sara Ali Khan’s post on her watchlist during quarantine for #Zee5premium’s #REJCTX2, where she talks about how she relates to the show sitting out of her bedroom in the most genuinely cute manner.

While many brands and influencers have managed to stay connected with their audiences, there are still many who would need to explore the possible ways to ensure that they are in touch with their audiences without coming across as self-centred.

Last but not the least, to stay in the ring, brands need to put in a lot of efforts through continuous assessment of the content, consistent brand communication to ensure brand recall, and thorough understanding of the frequently changing pandemic situations.


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