COVID-19 pandemic hits social media influencers


Social media influencers are in a panic as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to breed uncertainty over the economy.

Thousands of businesses and jobs are at stake following Prime Minister Scott Morrison's recent travel ban and the future of the tourism sector remains up in the air for at least the next six months.

This has put the influencer industry in jeopardy, specifically travel bloggers and food bloggers, whose careers came to a screeching halt last week after the government announced unprecedented travel restrictions.

Travel and food bloggers like Tahlia Skaines and Miranda Jacque may struggle while fashion and beauty influencers like Troy Thompson and Maria DiGeronimo will thrive.
Travel and food bloggers like Tahlia Skaines and Miranda Jacque may struggle while fashion and beauty influencers like Troy Thompson and Maria DiGeronimo will thrive.

Sydney travel blogger Nisha Sharma told Confidential that years of hard work is now down the drain.

"I can't tell you how much it's impacting my work as a blogger. In December last year, I went to Bali, Singapore and India, there I collaborated with a few big hotels and good restaurants. I was supposed to post all the pictures I have taken during my stay or visits this year, but I can't really post them now since I can't really promote travel at this time of crisis where travel is not at all safe," Sharma said.

"I'm supposed to go to Europe in May and already had collaborations with various hotels and restaurants and I'm afraid that will not go ahead and that's the another hit by COVID-19."

Food blogger Miranda Jacque is also overwhelmed with disappointment as social distancing measures has jeopardised the restaurant business.

"Yes, frankly I am a bit concerned. Even though restaurants and bars are still open across Sydney, I am very reluctant to venture out into these crowded places due to the possibility of contracting COVID-19," Jacque said.

"If there comes a time when restaurants are required to shut down, it will be quite difficult to create new content for my page since I am primarily restaurant focused unlike other bloggers who may create content at home.

"I am worried about the effects COVID-19 will have on my work but at the same time, I would be okay with mandatory restaurant closures if it escalates to that point. I believe that the community's health and safety should be the number one priority during this difficult time, even if it means my content will suffer because of it."

Bodybuilder Troy Thompson, who promotes fashion brands to his 100,000 followers on Instagram, added - "I think most people are worried."

Marketing expert Taryn Williams, whose business The Right-Fit links influencers with brands, said the growing concern among influencers is understandable.

"Brands that involve international travel are completely on hold and a lot of brands in the hospitality space, hotels and travel space are cancelling their marketing spend across all channels," Williams said.

Dylan Mullan, whose company Happy Skin made $20 million in under two years by partnering with influencers, said sales of his hair removal handsets have been unusually low due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Just over the weekend it got quiet, numbers are down, retail is going through a really rough time," he said.

"I think it'll be quiet for the next few months. It'll be fine once we get through this period but you look at travel and hospitality, it's a difficult period for everyone. We're not in dire straits but I don't think we're going to see much growth during this time."

However, it's not all bad news according to Williams. She said while the future is in doubt for travel bloggers and food bloggers, those promoting beauty and fashion may be in luck.

"We've actually seen a lot of brands who have a brick-and-mortar presence, who understand that there's going to be a steep drop in foot traffic and consumer presence with people stuck at home, actually increasing their spend on influencer marketing," Williams said.

"Many are shifting from wholesaling through retailers to engaging with influencers. I think it's going to be an interesting mix, there's going to be brands who recognise this as an opportunity to own a different part of the market."

Fashion influencers like surfer Ellie-Jean Coffey say business has picked up during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fashion influencers like surfer Ellie-Jean Coffey say business has picked up during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Research conducted by The Right-Fit shows there's been a 22 per cent increase in influencer campaign impressions this year compared to the same time last year.

"People are spending more time on social media, they're consuming so much more at the moment," she said.

"So if anything, it's probably the one channel that brands should continue to spend on during this time but obviously within common sense.

"If you're in an industry like tourism and hospitality that people aren't using, then no you should cut all of your spending. But if you're in an industry like fashion, beauty and homeware where people are still going to be online consuming social - I would definitely still be using those channels."

Fashion Nova ambassador Ellie Jean Coffey, who boasts one million Instagram followers, agrees with Williams and says business is better than ever for fashion influencers like herself.

"Business is booming at the moment. People are being told to stay home which is making them shop online more instead of going to the mall," Coffey said. "I do think more people will move online … it's a lot more adaptable."

Former Yummy Mummies star and Fitcover ambassador Maria DiGeronimo, who promotes beauty products and food delivery service HelloFresh, also said business has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I think it'll only increase as time goes on because more people are buying online, so not only is it booming now but I think it will continue," DiGeronimo said.

"Fitcover produces everything here in Australia which is excellent, so does HelloFresh. I think everyone will start using HelloFresh because it's just so convenient. It comes to your front door and you don't need to leave the house."

There are now more than 1000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia and at least seven people have died.


Originally published as COVID-19 pandemic hits social media influencers