COVID-19 has changed everything. And it’s not just the way we live and work, but what (and often who) we value. With consumer sentiment shifting away from the outlandish lifestyles and eccentricities of celebrities, more brands and agencies are gravitating away from “covidiot” influencers and looking at TikTok. This “new normal” has brought these chaotic, imperfect influencers to the forefront. And consumers love them.
Online Influencers on Thin Ice
In a time when uncertainty, fear, and misinformation continues to dominate much of what is read and seen online and on social media, more people are turning to local and regional news outlets. A recent Horowitz Research study found that “58% of Americans report consuming more local news than before, including 38% of Americans who were not news viewers before the crisis.”
As consumers continue to turn their attention toward connecting with businesses and leadership within their communities, companies are beginning to shift their own marketing strategies to follow suit. As Ben Chodor, president of Intrado Digital Media, shared recently with PRWeek, “The rise of fake news and misinformation has caused brands to prioritize owned media channels and make better use of traditional tools like corporate newsrooms and newswire services.”
Interestingly, as TV viewership and community awareness increase, there is a noticeable growing disdain for so-called social media “celebrities” and insta-stars. Seems these folks have flaunted their lockdown woes in their pools and lavish game rooms one too many times.
A look at social mood in NetBase’s AI Studio reveals this growing mistrust for online influencers. But it’s more than that. We see “disgust” as the second highest emotion, after “joy.”
Indeed, “covidiots” – those who are behaving irresponsibly during this pandemic – are facing scrutiny. Their over-the-top lifestyles and posts are seen as out of touch and out of line by consumers. And while sentiment wanes, many online influencers are losing endorsements. Brands and agencies find themselves gravitating towards new marketing strategies, like TikTok. This is where they’re finding more “imperfect” and relatable influencers.
Relatable Standard Has Shifted
For most people, the lifestyles of the rich and famous have never quite been “relatable.” But, it still felt “like us” in some small way. We all deal with work, family, kids, and life in general.
But that has all changed, especially as the stark contrast between the “haves” and “have nots” becomes clearer. Blatantly unequal access to COVID testing, food bank lines and keen awareness of one’s privilege has tainted many online influencers’ images. And has left a bad taste in consumers’ mouths.
One influencer realized this after using her connections to get early COVID-19 testing and moving her family to the Hamptons during lockdown. Blogger Arielle Charnas not only faced public backlash, but lost followers and possibly her collaboration with Nordstrom.
As disenchantment and the “wealth gap” with the privileged grows, many consumers are beginning to rethink what really matters. The NY times reported, “The greatest psychological shift amid widespread crisis may be toward what is termed “prosocial behavior.” [C]hecking in on neighbors, caring for the needy, cooking for friends.” People are focusing more on connections and less on material and “worldly” possessions. Looking at consumer shopping sentiments from January to April paints a vivid word picture. Shoppers were happy and excited to buy in January, but more focused on sharing and willing to “miss” out on things:
Consumers are looking to build relationships with brands that can similarly connect and relate to them – emotionally, mentally, and financially. And many of them are finding their voice on TikTok, represented by a growing number of “normal” influencers.
New Faces of Normalcy
So, as the traditional celebrity and social media stars lose their ability to engage audiences, brands are finding unlikely collaborations among everyday TikTok content creators.
Sky and Tami Say, a well-known couple from Madrid, Spain, are best known for their lip-synch challenges, comedy sketches, and food experiments. Using humor, positivity and a healthy dose of “lovey-dovey” cutesiness, the dynamic duo, who will only work on commercial projects together, have captured the hearts of over 14 million followers.
Jason Coffee and his kids bring much-needed humor and laughter for stressed parents and families. A former Starbucks employee (in other words – everyday working man!), he and his family use pranks and slapstick humor to chronicle their daily lives. With 18 million followers, his motto is “Family. Having Fun. Making silly videos.” It works.
Jordi Koalitic, an accomplished creative photographer, shows off behind the scenes videos and ideas of how he created some of his more famous works. Creating masterpieces using ordinary objects, Koalitic inspires his 15 million followers to look for asthetic beauty in everyday life.
While these individuals and families may not be as well known outside of TikTok and social media (yet!), consumer sentiment shows that it won’t take long for these influencers to be household names.
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on lives and businesses. And consumers are becoming weary with reading and hearing about the trials and tribulations of the elite and entitled. People want to feel like they are heard, understood, and a part of a bigger community. Smart brands are recognizing this. And they’re finding role models and potential influencers from a variety of places and walks of life. Rest assured, customers (and their pocketbooks!) will remember that long down the road.
Reach out, and we’ll show you how to find the best influencer – and strategy – to meaningfully connect with your specific target audiences.