Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Supporting the influencers helping to keep us sane during COVID-19

By Jennifer Quigley-Jones, Founder and CEO of YouTube influencer marketing agency Digital Voices

During COVID-19, it has been tough to see my newsfeed filled with creators and freelancers struggling personally and financially. Influencer marketing has a higher proportion of freelancers than almost any other industry. It’s easy to overlook the amount of work, time and effort YouTube creators put into making videos that educate or entertain their followers and are accessible for everyone.

Many creators first set their channels up as a ‘side hustle’ and spent thousands of hours developing the skills and building the followers to turn a passion into a career. Careers that are currently at risk.

Most are having jobs cancelled or postponed and they are struggling to get by financially. While the Chancellor’s measures have provided a well needed safety net for many, influencers want to work rather than rely on Government support.

As funding for freelancers may not come through until June there is still a lot of financial pain and hardship for many who need money now to pay rent, bills and food.

Supporting YouTube creators

This is the context to our initiative to support YouTube creators facing difficulty during the coronavirus so we can match them with existing brand sponsorship campaigns we have. If we offer a brand deal, we are shortening our payment terms to 14 days to make sure that creators can keep financially afloat.

We’ve been overwhelmed by the response and have done our best to allocate as much as we can. However many of the smallest creators do not have enough of an audience to be able to work with brands at this time, with less than 200 subscribers or 5,000 views per video.

These are the influencers who most depend on freelance work, either as videographers, photographers or event work.  

With a view to helping with the organic growth of their channels, we are offering online advice and interactive workshops about how they develop their presence and grow their YouTube channels in a way that will appeal to brands.  

As a relatively new industry there is a lack of advice and best practice out there for influencers at the very beginning of their careers to grow their audience, optimise their channels and attract sponsorship. During and after this crisis, we need to find ways to consistently support creators at the beginning of their online careers.

Record demand for long form content

While there are fewer opportunities for brand sponsorship, the irony is we are seeing more demand for influencer content than ever before. With people behind doors in need of stimulation, YouTube views are vastly increasing.

In America, there was a 22% increase in the number of minutes of videos streamed online within one week Nielsen and CNBC).Uploads of videos from creators with “at home” in the title have also increased by more than 590 percent according to The Verge.

YouTube creators have worked at home for years, so their advice on building productive routines, designing workspaces and dealing with stress and anxiety is particularly useful. This demand is partly driven by many parents enthusiastically embracing the medium as a constructive way to keep their children busy and learning outside of school.

From Joe Wicks getting a million plus views for his YouTube P.E. lessons to educational content seeing a 20% rise in views the past week alone, people are lapping up long form sound-on content. YouTube influencers are seeing engagement like never before.  

Physical, not social distancing

Online videos also offer a human face to many who are self-isolating. The word ‘social distancing’ is used a lot, but perhaps a more accurate description would be physical distancing.

Screens and platforms like YouTube enable us to maintain meaningful connections with others at this time. Unlike TV where we are passive consumers, platforms like YouTube, TikTok and Instagram and of course video chat services like FaceTime, Houseparty and Zoom enable us to interact and connect.

While the public are waking up to the importance of interactive content at this time, it is vital for brands to support the content creators who can supply the content that is so needed at this time to inform, educate and keep us all sane.