UK Social Media ‘Influencers’ Hit Hard by Coronavirus

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Social media influencers in the UK have been affected by the countrywide lockdown according to new research

A new study reveals that as businesses slash their marketing spending, influencers are among the first costs to be cut.

The social media marketing firm, Socialbakers, conducted the study and confirmed that the use of the hashtag #ad has dropped by a massive 35%. That’s despite the fact that social media as a whole has seen an increase of between 13% and 15% depending on the day of the week. However, the study showed that those social media influencers that are not celebrities are still highly valued when compared to the rich and famous.

The study revealed that audiences are looking for more authentic engagement with the social media accounts that they interact with, proving that influencers are still providing potential value for large and small brands.

The CEO of Socialbakers, Yuval Ben-Itzhak, said that the report highlighted that we are still heading to social media to discover new content, but that cutting marketing budgets has been driven by “economic uncertainty.”

Influencer marketing has become one of the big business buzzwords of the last few years, despite widespread criticism of its value or its effectiveness among the general public. However, even with proven benefits, the drop in the use of social media influencers can be seen very clearly in the number of posts that make use of the #ad hashtag.

What’s most notable is the sudden drop in the number of celebrity influencers that have stopped using the hashtag.

Ben-Itzhak said of the trend that:

UK Social Media ‘Influencers’ Hit Hard by Coronavirus
CEO of Socialbakers, Yuval Ben-Itzhak

“the best-performing influencers are more likely to be authentic ‘everyday’ influencers.”

He suggests that audiences are looking for relatable and real-life content as opposed to “aspirational and manicured posts.”, one such influencer has amassed a following of over 400k fans due to her unique fashion creations.

But Brits are certainly spending more time on their social media platforms of choice. Instagram continues to dominate the social landscape throughout the pandemic, and the picture platform now has a 28% larger audience globally than that of the biggest brand profiles on Facebook.

In the UK, it’s very different, and although Instagram has seven times more engagement than Facebook in Britain, it remains consistently equal in terms of real-time use.

As the UK population struggles to cope with lockdown and quarantine measures, they are taking to social media to stay connected with family and friends.

Social media platforms have been heavily criticized during the pandemic with Facebook, in particular, being slow to respond to the high number of conspiracy posts made about COVID-19. Measures are slowly being introduced, with more well-known social media accounts being banned for spreading misinformation.

Recently, famous conspiracy theorist David Icke was banned from posting content on YouTube, with the Google-owned platform having sent the former footballer and sports broadcaster multiple warnings about posting “misleading content” about the virus.

As social media influencers continue to struggle in the lockdown, social platforms are trying to reposition themselves as trustworthy sources of information. When 88% of false or misleading coronavirus claims start on social media (with 9% starting on TV), it’s no wonder that businesses are growing more sceptical about the value of social platforms, even as audiences continue to look for authenticity and new content online.

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