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Influencer Marketing dons a new avatar during COVID-19 second wave

India’s influencer market is estimated at $150 million in revenues per year and is showing double digit growth according to digital marketing agency AdLift.It has been changing with the time, people, and situation around. Last year at the beginning of the pandemic, we saw an attitude of relaxation amongst people. Making Dalgona Coffee to dancing challenges, everything was fun and light. Influencers also promoted fun and me time.

While Covid 19 continues to surge through our country a lot of people are turning online for information and resource sharing and simultaneously for some distraction and relief. Which is why influencers are now treading a careful path of trying be sensitive to the gravity of the situation around us while still making content that appeals to their massive audiences.

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There has been a big shift in recent months from influencers sharing holiday pictures to really focusing on more serious content. Many influencers are also smartly using their humour to spread awareness as well as populate their stories with important covid updates while others are actively amplifying important campaigns. Overall, everyone has tweaked their content and is making sure to use the right language and visuals so as to be sensitive keeping the current situation in mind.

"It is a fine balance, and there has been some degree of backlash against creators for continuing to post their regular content" 

- Malini Agarwal, Digital Influencer, Founder, MissMalini Entertainment and Girl Tribe

Throwing light on how influencers are putting up purpose driven content, Malini Agarwal - Digital Influencer, Founder, MissMalini Entertainment and Girl Tribe, said, “It is a fine balance, and there has been some degree of backlash against creators for continuing to post their regular content. But it is important to note that offering both entertainment relief as well as valuable information and updates are equally important at this time so they educate as many people about the myths and facts of the virus and encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Even those who are not actively seeking out this information or even know they need it or where to get it are more likely to notice it if it is cleverly packaged or inserted into their favourite influencers regular content.”

"Influencers have realised their moral responsibility as well as influencing powers to actually make a change"

- Ramya Ramachandran, CEO & Founder, Whoppl

Influencers, celebrities, and the general public all want to support each other in getting out of this apocalypse. From influencing people to watching a series on an OTT platform to now keeping a tab on medical resources, influencers have completely shifted their approach. Commenting on how influencers pivoted keeping in mind the current sensitivities, Ramya Ramachandran, CEO & Founder, Whoppl, said, “In the prevailing scenario, influencers have realised their moral responsibility as well as influencing powers to actually make a change. It’s heart-warming to see how they have opened up and so promptly responding to hundreds of DMs asking for help. They have channelised all their communication to post about oxygen, beds and plasma. They have ardently taken part in making their audience aware as well as pushing them to go get the vaccine shots. Along with creating online resources that talk about where one can get free COVID-19 meals and even how one can adopt pets of the deceased, influencers have positively expanded our perspective and helped us by assuring that things will be alright.”

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Influencer marketing began a few years back as a very niche way of brand promotions. Over the last couple of years it has evolved into a complete industry of its own. There are macro, micro and nano influencers across so many different categories that help a brand achieve massive reach with their target audience.

"During the pandemic, there is a 2.0 version of authentic influencers that is more compassionate and insightful"

- Aditi Kanakia and Devanshi Sodhani, Founding Partners, Abridge Entertainment Ventures

Speaking about the evolution of influencer marketing space, Aditi Kanakia and Devanshi Sodhani, Founding Partners, Abridge Entertainment Ventures, said, “People have such divided views about influencers, some feel that it is a very cost effective way of marketing while others feel that it is an extremely cluttered and superficial space. During the pandemic, there is a 2.0 version of authentic influencers that is more compassionate and insightful. It can be noticed that many celebrities and influencers have refrained from posting about direct branded content which may come across as tone-deaf in these trying times. This goes to show that there has been a certain degree of evolution in the influencer ecosystem where it is not just a machinery anymore that churns out scripted branded content and memes.”

Since there are strict lockdowns imposed in most of the areas in India, not many products and services are accessible. Brands that offer sanitisation & everyday essentials are the ones that are relevant in the prevailing situation. Other brands have taken a backseat and paused their campaigns given the present scenario. However, this has not stopped brands from doing their bit to consciously reduce the overwhelming impact of the second COVID-19 wave.

"Many influencers are also looking to partner with brands who are actually making a difference and helping people during the current situation"

 Pranav Panpalia, Founder, OpraahFX

Talking about brand deals, Pranav Panpalia, Founder, OpraahFX, noted, “Last year was a golden year for influencers to bag great brand deals as no other means of advertisement was functioning well. However, this year brands are slow on their promotions as they also want to address the current situation mindfully and not push people to purchase a cosmetic, watch, or shoe when lakhs of their audiences are hunting for oxygen cylinders. Additionally, many influencers are also looking to partner with brands who are actually making a difference and helping people during the current situation.”

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