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Influencer marketing, the real success story during lockdown?


Since the pandemic, influencer marketing is everywhere. Whether it is for B2C or B2B purposes, companies are using this effective marketing technique to communicate.


Impossible to scroll on social media without seeing influencers! The demand for collaboration with content creators has grown so much in Belgium since March 2020. Not only results exceeded client's expectations but it opened new doors to reach an audience that spends more and more time on social media.


BeInfluence, the leading influencer marketing in Europe, and Sortlist, who matches agencies and advertisers, have combined their data to understand the phenomenon.


Our BeInfluence community of 3400 Belgian nano and micro influencers and 250 Belgian digital users from Sortlist database took part in the survey.


57% influencers are more active on social media and 41% companies are more receptive since 2020


Sortlist has seen a 41% increase in the number of companies that use agencies specialized in influencer marketing. Social network experts is also one of the top 5 most requested areas of expertise on Sortlist.


Influencer marketing is also part of the digital strategy, social networks, branding or PR of projects posted by brands on the platform.

During lockdown and in general since the covid-19 crisis, 57.2% of influencers say they have been more active on social media. They were also able to enjoy the time spent at home to get closer to their communities.


A community that spends more time online: 72.83% of Belgian Millennials say they have increased their use of social networks in the last year, according to 250 Belgians who took part of a Sortlist survey.


The pandemic has brought influencers closer to their communities


65% of influencers saw their communities grow during the pandemic! They could spend more time at home and on social media. The fact they were more available helped them gain popularity.


BeInfluence surveyed 3,400 nano and micro influencers in Belgium, and 40% of them admitted they could spend more time preparing their content, but also answering questions, reacting to comments while doing lives.


48% of Millennials prefer video content and 12% specify that they enjoy more Reels, Live or Stories.


"Many young Belgians report that the lack of physical social interaction with family and friends makes them more connected. They spend more time on the Internet and are looking for new alternatives to compensate the lack of physical social interactions made impossible due to the specific government measures to fight the virus. Influencers seem to be one of those alternatives." Wim van Edom, economist at Comeos.

Unlike brands that use traditional advertising channels, influencers are closer with their audience and community and can encourage their relationships to increase sales.


According to the SMI barometer, 1 out of 4 Belgians follow the advice of an influencer before buying a product.


56% of young people say they start following a brand after being convinced by influencers, and 26% of young people say they have made a purchase in the last 3 months thanks to an influencer. This phenomenon pushed brands to include influencer marketing in their communication-plan. At BeInfluence, we saw the request for influencers collaboration in 2021 in the Benelux tripled compared to the first half of 2020.


More than ever, Internet users like to share the daily life of influencers and have their honest opinions on products, services, brands or other.


The format used by influencers, also known as content creators, has evolved so much. In 5 years, the content published on social media focused on authenticity and professionalism. With a quality of photography and video editing that has nothing to envy to professionals.


New world, new hobbies: when content adapts itself to the pandemic situation


You couldn't miss the different lockdown trends: banana bread, home workout or even homemade haircuts, all topics that were inspired by the new routine of content creators.


Getting closer to their audience and community has been the number one priority for brands. They had to follow the trends and adapt also their key messages. 30% of influencers say they had complete freedom from the companies when they were collaborating during the pandemic, 1 in 5 brands asked influencers to post content related to the global situation.

With or without a specific request from brands, 60.7% of content creators admitted that the content they published was influenced by the lockdown: 1 out of 5 influencers have posted content related to activities you could do from home, such as recipes, DIY tutorials, decorating ideas or workouts.


Both brands and influencers have adapted their content to meet the needs of their communities. According to exclusive data gathered by Meltwater, a media monitoring solution, online topics conversations have evolved during the year 2020.


According to their observations, the topic that contains the most online conversations are science related topics (29%), before movies (26%) and sports (25%)!


Which social networks have been the most popular this year?


According to the Sortlist survey, almost 35% of Belgians consider YouTube as their favorite social network.


YouTube is even ahead of Netflix when it comes to entertainment! However, this social media is not yet sufficiently exploited by brands. With a 13.7% share of published content, YouTube is only in 5th position in the top social networks where influencers makes the most collaborations.


This is mainly due to the very high budgets needed for brands to collaborate on this network with Youtubers.


  1. Facebook 39,90% : +60 years in majority

  2. YouTube 34,63%

  3. Instagram 26,59%

  4. Netflix 23,57%

  5. TikTok 18,37%

Even though TikTok comes in 5th position in the ranking, it is the social network that has grown the most during the pandemic (+23%), and became a must-have among Generation Z!


And brands understood this. BeInfluence has recorded a very strong growth in requests for digital campaigns on TikTok over the last 12 months. Beinfluence helped brands like Sony Music, PlayTwo label, Carrefour and Stabilo to make creative campaigns with TikTokers. According to the SMI study, the number of TikTok users in Belgium has increased fivefold since 2019!


Conclusion


The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the influencer marketing growth: proximity to Internet users, authenticity and digital format are some of the advantages of this marketing strategy that continues to evolve and prove itself.


With a growing community of influencers (+30% at BeInfluence) that seduced the internet users, the budgets invested in influencer marketing are 4 times higher than in 2019 in Belgium (Sortlist internal figures).


Although influencer marketing is still mostly reaching Millennials and generation Z, 37% of the over 60s have signed up on a social network since the pandemic in Belgium. Soon enough, it would not be surprising to find some of them dancing on the latest trends on TikTok, following a DIY tutorial or buying a product recommended by an influencer.


Methodology


BeInfluence, one of Europe's leading influencer agencies, and Sortlist, the B2B platform that connects companies with marketing and creative agencies that match their needs, have partnered to publish a 100% Belgian study to understand the influencer marketing landscape and the importance of this digital communication strategy. We surveyed the community of more than 3400 nano and micro Belgian influencers as well as 250 Belgian respondents over a 10-day period from May 11th to 21st, 2021.