Building and maintaining strong relationships is how Sarah Boyd has found success throughout her career, and it’s also a great way for marketers to survive and succeed during difficult times like the coronavirus pandemic.
Sarah was one of the speakers on for Socialbakers Engage, an event highlighting The Value of Experience that brought together thousands of marketers worldwide in one online space. Her presentation was on the best practices for managing industry relationships, something she has a lot of experience with.
Sarah is the founder of SIMPLY, a collective that connects the dots with influencer events, online courses, and more. She’s also the Vice President of Business Development at Socialyte, which acquired SIMPLY in 2017.
We caught up with Sarah ahead of Engage to chat about the changing dynamics of influencer marketing, making connections online instead of in-person, and what’s coming in 2021. Watch her presentation and read her answers below:
Influencer marketing is one area that was clearly impacted by the pandemic. How have you seen influencer marketing change this year? How do you think it will develop in 2021?
Like every industry, influencer marketing has seen a lot of changes as a result of the pandemic. There are the obvious changes, like the cancellation of in-person events and influencer trips as well as shifts in how influencer marketing budgets are being spent, but we’ve also seen how adaptable and innovative the industry is as well. “Events” have gone virtual, and brands and influencers alike have found creative ways to keep in touch with their audiences despite not being able to gather in-person.
Brands have also really embraced the power of influencers as content creators this year, and many were contracting influencers to create content on their behalf for online catalogues and social media channels since photo studios and sets were shut down.
Moving into 2021, I think we’ll continue to see brands work with influencers to develop content for brand-owned channels. We have also noticed a large shift of influencer budgets going towards influencers that convert to sales and deliver a true ROI.
Our talent that we manage at Socialyte that are strong converters have not been affected by the pandemic and some have increased their earnings over 2019.
In-person events are a big part of your company, SIMPLY. What have you done to connect with your audience instead of in-person events during quarantine?
We’ve embraced creating connections digitally as well! For the first few months of quarantine, we hosted an Instagram Live series called “SIMPLY WFH Coffee Break” where I interviewed entrepreneurs, influencers, stylists...it was a great way to connect with the people who would be speaking at our in-person events in a virtual way. And we still have our blog content and online courses as ways to provide our audience with resources wherever they are!
In addition, about 3 years ago, SIMPLY was acquired by Socialyte so we’re staying very busy focusing on talent management (I’m specifically focused on our celebrity level/macro talent) and our influencer marketing campaigns with brands such as Airbnb, Etsy, and Keurig, to name a few.
Socialbakers data has shown a trend of brands working more with micro influencers. Is that something that you’ve also seen? If so, why do you think that’s happening?
Micro influencers are a powerful group, as they tend to have smaller but highly engaged audiences who will listen to shopping recommendations and show intense support. It’s why I always tell brands to look beyond follower numbers and consider other metrics, like engagement rates and reach, when looking for influencers to partner with.
An influencer with a million followers sounds like a dream (and in most cases is!) but micro influencers are also able to bring strong results with brand partnerships.
What kind of influencer partnerships have been most successful or popular during quarantine?
As I mentioned, partnerships where influencers create content for the brand to use on brand-owned channels are incredibly popular right now. Oftentimes influencers don’t even have to post the photos on their own channels, just provide content for the brands to use.
Category-wise, we’re working with more consumer packaged goods brands (from cleaning products to food to other household goods) and brands that sell activewear, loungewear, and skincare products.
Brands are really receptive to what consumers are looking to buy during quarantine and what products may feel extraneous right now, and they’ve adapted their marketing efforts to highlight the products that are most beneficial during this time.
Another passion of yours is fashion. How has that industry responded to the pandemic, and what do you see coming in 2021?
Fashion has also adapted in a lot of interesting ways this year! Of course, with everyone spending much more time at home, there’s a larger emphasis on loungewear and athleisure, which I can see having long lasting implications on how we dress for work, even when we do eventually return to the office.
Consumers are also a lot more conscious of how their clothes are made and who they are supporting with their wallets, so I expect to see more brands be transparent about their manufacturing processes and aligning with environmental and human rights organizations. With so many options on where to shop and everyone relying primarily on online shopping right now, consumers have the time and resources to make informed decisions about who they are supporting.
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Editor's Note: This article was originally published on socialbakers.com. Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.