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  • Tracy Jones, MD

Why Influencer Marketing Matters in SA during Covid-19

Updated: Apr 21

Whether Covid-19 is boom or bust for your brand, communicating effectively is equally important. No brand can afford to say nothing indefinitely.


We know that brands which stagnate during a crisis take longer to recover – if they recover at all. The challenges right now for brands are extensive. The bar of creativity, innovation and mastering of emerging channels, such as digital, social media and influencer marketing, is at an all-time high for South African brands.

Here are 3 key reasons why you should consider an influencer relations campaign:

An untapped opportunity

Worldwide, influencer marketing is a multi-billion-dollar industry on the rise. In South Africa however, brands have been conservative about embracing influencer marketing.

With traditional PR media routes so congested and overwhelmed by Covid-19 and the related content, there’s tremendous untapped opportunity which can result in substantial development of our influencer marketing sector.


Influencers have accumulated their following for a reason – whether popularity, credibility, or expertise. Influencer marketing allows you to ride on those three pillars to create high-impact conversations around your brand.


At a time when consumers want relevance and authenticity from brands more than anything else, an honest collaboration with the right influencers could be the most effective way to be communicating with your target audience.

Creating ongoing conversation

Consumers expect brands to keep engaging during Covid-19, and recent US research has shown that many millennial consumers particularly expect brands to be making a difference during the crisis.


Consumers want brands to address the Covid-19 lockdown reality, to express their solidarity and be helpful to them. They aren’t looking for a hard sell, right now they want brands to have human-centric messaging, and to make a difference or help equip them to navigate a period of intense fear, anxiety and uncertainty in their lives.


Research is also consistently showing that across the world internet usage is currently extremely high, and with millions under lockdown and many unable to work, time spent on social media has increased.


One of the great strengths of influencer marketing is that it enables brands to reach consumers in their world. It lets brands work around ad blocking and increases the possibility that your brand will break through the digital clutter and resonate with your target audience.

Paying for a partnership

For a return on investment, marketers need to understand this and not just the numbers but the nuances of influencer marketing. Some brands have blundered into influencer marketing campaigns with the idea that it’s simply about paying the influencer to say something nice about their brand. What an agency such as Positive Dialogue – which has won industry awards for its influencer marketing campaigns – knows well is that brands and influencers have to be genuinely matched.


The art of getting that right is to ensure that you have a clear strategy in place and the right tools to identify and vet your influencer partners from a reach, relevance, resonance perspective.


Among the oft-cited reasons for doing influencer marketing, the most compelling is the fact that consumers are far more likely to believe what influencers say than when a brand says it. Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Report reveals that 83% of consumers trust opinions of people they know.


There’s awareness and appreciation that top influencers put great thought and effort into their communication and follower relationships. For this reason, community audiences take an interest in their favourite influencers’ success and want them to be able to sustain their efforts to keep informing and entertaining them.


If a brand and influencer is genuinely matched, the content as well as your brand will resonate with the influencers followers and this is the sweet spot where consumers don’t mind if the influencer is being paid. Successful influencer marketing is a bona fide collaboration, and there’s excellent potential for a brand with the right intentions to be a part of that.

By all accounts, widespread economic standstill and rolling lockdowns of the country’s workforce will be part of our ‘new normal’ for quite some time. Marketing resources and investments cannot be put on indefinite hold. Just like individuals, brands need to show what they are made of in times of crisis. Surviving is all about courage, communication, creativity and collaboration.

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