How important are social influencers during COVID-19?

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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social influencer

Consumers are increasingly engaging with influencers on social platforms as the pandemic continues.

A new survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers from digital marketing agency Matter Communications indicates that since social distancing restrictions started, consumers are spending more time engaging with social platforms and seeing more content from influencers as a result. 

Specifically, 63% of respondents have spent more time viewing and/or posting on social platforms, 50% (55% of respondents ages 18-29) have spent more time viewing live-stream social content, and 58% are noticing more sponsored content from influencers. Only about one in five (19%) respondents feel influencer content has been “tone-deaf and/or unhelpful.” 

The survey also shows that when it comes to brand, product or service recommendations, consumers trust friends, family and influencers over brands. 

Six in 10 (61%) respondents are likely to trust recommendations from a friend, family member or influencer on social platforms. Roughly four in 10 (38%) are likely to trust recommendations from a brand on social platforms.

Trust in recommendations from friends, family members and influencers shared via social posts is strongest among younger consumers, including 66% of respondents ages 18-29, 61% ages 30-44, 60% ages 45-60, and 53% of respondents over 60.

In addition, the study examined which types of influencers resonate across health and wellness, beauty and personal care, food and beverage, baby and kids, personal technology and consumer goods. Across these categories, respondents prefer influencers with relatable personalities (60%-70% of each category), followed by expert personalities (50%-58% of each category). Only 17%-22% of respondents in each category prefer celebrity influencers over personalities seen as either aspirational, relatable, expert, “just for fun” or well-known non-celebrity individuals, like authors or public figures. 

Other interesting findings include:

•    82% of respondents have either purchased, researched or considered purchasing a product or service after seeing friends, family or influencers post about it. 

Consumers are most interested in seeing influencer posts about:
•    Food and beverage (56%);
•    Health and wellness (48%);
•    Personal technology (45%);
•    Consumer goods (40%);
•    Beauty and personal care (33%); and, 
•    Baby and kids (13%).

Of these content categories, consumers are most likely to act on (purchase, research, spread the word or consider) influencer posts about:
•    Food & beverage (51%); 
•    Health & wellness (39%); and, 
•    Personal technology (37%).