Trend 1: Changes existing influencers have had to make
Short-form video content:
There is no doubt that this lockdown has been all about short-form video content as TikTok’s growth rate rocketed; it reached 12.9 million people in April, up from just 5.4 million in January in the UK alone. Everybody and anybody was copying dance routines, videoing challenges and sharing their #storytime, although this was mainly a trend for those under the age of 25.
With this, influencers turned to creating accounts on the platform to keep up with the demand - fashion and lifestyle influencers like Samantha Maria and Ashley from Best Dressed joined the platform shortly after the UK and USA went into lockdown.
In August 2020 we saw the birth of Instagram Reels that caused a little stir from TikTok (see their tweet below!) that Instagram was encroaching on the TikTok short-form video format. But we shall see what happens there!
EVERYTHING is inside:
While I realise this isn’t groundbreaking, the ways influencers and the brands around them got creative was pretty interesting. The fashion market was especially prominent.
ASOS have an insanely wide amount of products and are bringing in around 200+ new items into their online catalogue every single day (481 have come in the last 24 hours at the time of writing). Just relying on old product shots was only going to last so long if they were going to keep up this momentum, so #ModelsAtHome were born. It’s pretty much what the hashtag says - models (but also staff and brand ambassadors) were shooting products, but instead of in a studio, they were shooting in their own homes.
I must say, I actually personally really liked this approach; it made everything feel a bit more real, and models seemed a little less ‘distant from reality’ - but that’s just a personal anecdote, feel free to disagree! You can read this article from Pop Sugar which explains a little more about this here.
Trend 2: The rise in the number of influencers
Can anyone and everyone be an influencer?:
Can anyone be an influencer? At the moment, quite possibly, and yep, you got it right, TikTok is a big part of that. Unlike YouTube where content is longer-form, often requiring high-skill editing for the top creators, TikTok is a bit less ‘professional’, plus the short 60 second time limit helps and this has given rise in the number of content creators.
For instance, 55% of TikTok’s 500 million active users have uploaded a video; that means around 275 million content creators have uploaded content onto the platform - whereas there are approximately 50 million content creators on YouTube. This is not to say that TikTok is overtaking YouTube (although I’d argue it was a worthy competitor), but that it is giving more people an albeit easier platform to create content.
Outside of existing influencers, people are turning to TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and other platforms to share their hobbies, learn new dances, do fun challenges with their family - often out of the pure boredom of lockdown. Whilst not necessarily ‘influencers’, I have definitely noted a recipe or two down, watched a video about how to make garden furniture and saw the in-depth step by step of candle-making from people that I probably wouldn’t have even found ahead of lockdown.
Celebrities have turned to ‘traditional influencer’ techniques:
Now, whilst their lives have always felt so different to ours in many ways, celebrities have had to stay home too. There have been breaks in production schedules, photoshoots and big events were cancelled, and in most cases they have been shuffled into their homes too. So we saw a big influx of celebrities engaging in video call interviews and a lot of their promotion was through Zoom.
A few of my favourite campaigns was #SaveWithStories created by Save the Children where various celebrities would read children’s books on Instagram Live. Enjoyed by both parents and children I’m sure, all donations made to the campaign went towards children and families who have been hardest hit by coronavirus. Another that I loved was the Doctor Who Doctor’s reunion - having worked with BBC on Doctor Who earlier in the year, it was exciting to see all the Doctors chatting in one (virtual) place. On top of this, I was listening to Radio 1 when they shared a Zoom call interview with Cardi B rather than having her in the studio as they normally would. It’s just a whole new way of engaging with celebrities.
There is something that became really apparent to me when looking into these two trends. We are seeing a lot more of one another, not physically no, but I bet you have seen someone’s child running round in the background, a pet gate-crashing a video call, and it’s always exciting when a colleague switches up their location and you see another corner of their household (or maybe I’m just nosy). Especially as more people become content creators, boredom encourages them to take up new hobbies, it all feels a lot more reachable. Whilst this chaos has affected us very differently - we have definitely become more transparent with one another.
To end on a personal anecdote, I was in a client meeting not long after we first went into lockdown and my labrador puppy decided to jump onto my lap (he was about 8 months at the time - not a tiny puppy so we can imagine more of a crash landing rather than a delicate perch!). I worriedly looked at the client and we all just laughed. We were all encountering this chaos and we were, in many stretches of the phrase, all in this together.