The road to reopening - How influencer marketing can help businesses of all types and sizes as England reopens

That time we have all been waiting for is nearly upon us. Shops, restaurants, bars, salons and other businesses are soon to open once again. With England’s four-stage roadmap for easing lockdown set in place, businesses now, more than ever must consider their marketing plans and strategies for reopening.  If you haven’t started yet, then do not panic. There is still time to effectively reach and engage with consumers if done correctly.

We know that many consumers will have a lot of questions for businesses, and if we go by last year as an indication, people will be turning to social media to get answers. That’s why harnessing the power of social media correctly can act as the perfect tool to help your brand and business get recognised as lockdown eases.  So, with the days getting warmer and longer,  and the end finally in sight, it’s time to get excited and find fun ways to re-engage with consumers.

First, let’s take a look at the upcoming milestones that the government have set out if all stages go to plan.

roadmap out of lockdown

Reopening and adjusting to the new normal will be challenging with several steps for businesses to take to ensure regulations have been met. It is important to create a plan and use marketing strategies that will help you succeed at reopening. The top priority is building trust. Trust allows your new and existing customers to choose you over the competition. This type of trust won’t happen overnight, but you can start by effectively communicating your brand’s messaging and core values.

As we know, the lockdown restrictions that were initially put in place over a year ago caused an acceleration across all digital platforms to meet the demands of consumers. The opportunity to engage consumers has grown, with 51% of consumers having been influenced to purchase a product or service based on an influencer promoting it (Valassis, 2020). Social media is becoming a more authentic and genuine space, where people turn to for advice and guidance. That’s why we believe influencer marketing will play an important role in helping brands solve problems with trust by rebuilding and creating excitement around the reopening of their business.

So how can influential people help businesses during the reopening and what benefits do they bring?

Build trust and reassurance

As we gain more clarity and assurance around England reopening, businesses are looking to the future by focusing on recovery and bouncing back. However, there may still be a sense of uncertainty amongst many people, which is why they are turning to their favourite influencers for guidance and advice. We saw that over 60% of consumers reported turning to brands they trusted during the lockdown, which means it will be even harder to break through and convince your customers to choose you over a competitor. In uncertain times people are looking to and engaging more than ever with their favourite influencers for guidance and advice. That’s why it is so important for brands to collaborate with people of influence because they solve the toughest marketing challenge brands face - how to win people’s trust. These authentic influencers have a unique ability to humanise a brand and generate conversation and demand for them, by creating an emotional connection.

As many of us are currently seeking normality, consumers will be looking to people of influence for assurance and guidance on when and where is the safest place to go and what to buy. Brand advocates can be a very important tool when it comes to promoting the safety of your business in order to eliminate any anxiety people might have. Influential people are usually thought leaders in their respective niches. They tend to stick to a particular niche and their popularity grows because of their thoughts, views and expertise in that particular industry. Many are authentic storytellers who have a loyal and engaged following, one they have built a strong and long-lasting relationship with. The access to a wide pool of people who trust their opinions on many topics means they are perfect for building a connection with your product or service and potential customers.

However, a major concern that consumers have is around the authenticity of influencers and how sincere and genuine their posts are. Influencer authenticity and ethics come out on top with consumers, with 61% of respondents claiming that having the ability to create authentic, engaging content is the most important attribute in a social media influencer (Influencer Intelligence, 2020). And as the influencer landscape continues to ramp up, so do the industry regulations. We are seeing the  Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) crackdown even more over the transparency of influencers, demanding them to be more upfront with their followers. This comes in hand with consumers becoming savvier to disingenuous posts and no longer buying into fake collaborations. That’s why to ensure the success of influencer partnerships, brands should exchange products and experiences with true brand lovers in return for authentic engagement and brand advocacy that will drive trust and loyalty. Here at Room Unlocked, we provide full transparency where no money changes hands between brands and advocates; people are talking about you because they love your brand. Creating a trustworthy and truthful experience for both parties. What’s not to like?

Inspiration and Awareness 

During this time, people are searching for inspiration, positivity, and an honest connection. Many of us will be looking to that day when we can sit in a beer garden with all our friends and enjoy a nice cold drink in the sun. This might seem far away to many of us, but for businesses, this is the perfect time to get ahead. To understand and meet the demands of consumers, businesses need to engage with their customers ahead of time. That’s why it’s crucial to use brand advocates for the reopening of businesses as they can get a timely message out to the right people in the right places.

The food and drink industry needs to know who and when people will be returning, and how much stock will be required. Across the beauty industry, there will be a long list of customers desperately waiting to get their hair, nails and lots of other treatments done. That’s why preparation now is key. Building relationships with people of influence and lovers of your brand will make promoting your business that much easier.

Collaborating with true brand advocates will let your customers, as well as potential consumers, know how you as a business have adapted in order to reopen. They can connect in a genuine and authentic way, whilst incorporating a sentiment of togetherness and authenticity, which is exactly what consumers will be demanding at this time. In return, both you and your advocates can love what you live and live what you love.

You’ve only got one shot at the reopening, so you need to come off the blocks strong. Now’s the time to be adventurous, so why not give it a try and collaborate with people of influence to see the success they can bring. If you want a quick fix that is guaranteed to bring success, the team at Room Unlocked have developed a Pay-Per-Use option to allow you to do just that. No long-term commitment, but the opportunity to see endless results.

Create buzz and excitement 

It has been a long couple of months not being able to go anywhere or see many people, and we are sure that many are extremely excited to hear they will finally be able to go get those dark roots dyed, nails painted, and enjoy a drink with friends once again. As we still have a couple of weeks to go, people need a boost in morale to keep them going. Therefore, brands need to actively engage with their audiences to generate excitement around their products or services before England fully opens up. Collaborating with brand advocates can help to start creating buzz and driving conversations about the brands they love.

Advocates not only create awareness of your brand, but they are effective storytellers who can bring your brand to life. And as most buyer purchasing decisions are based on emotion, using brand advocates that portray an effective and relatable message to your audience, will determine the success of your business when the doors reopen.

Businesses in retail can use advocates to showcase their latest spring collections by building excitement around what outfits they can wear on their first night out. Pubs, restaurants and bars may look to work with advocates to show off their favourite cocktails or what upcoming events they will be attending.  Similarly, gifting advocates the opportunity to get their hair or nails done in exchange for sharing with their followers can be a great way to get people talking about your brand. Not only that but as we are now in the spring season, advocates can share their thoughts on spring colours and trends to get people excited. These advocates can bring real-life excitement, a more personal feel to their message through Instagram Stories, Lives, videos and Reels. Whatever it might be, there is noise to be made. 

Re-engaging customers 

Authentic referrals are one of the most effective marketing strategies. If you have a problem and a friend recommends a product or service that solves this problem, then you are most likely to go to buy it. This is the same with influential people, just on a much larger scale. They can be a great tool in reminding consumers of your brand, especially to those who may have dropped off during lockdown. The needs of consumers have changed a lot during this time, specifically in health and wellness, beauty and fashion, alongside purchasing decisions and consumption. Therefore, getting your message across to these dormant customers might be challenging. However, having brand lovers who are reaching these consumers on a day-to-day basis can help bridge this gap. Not only are you able to tap into an existing community of engaged followers but also a community you may not have been able to reach previously. This is an opportunity to re-engage previous customers as well as acquire new potential customers. A win-win situation, right?

An effective way of reaching these audiences can be done by collaborating with micro-influencers. Having a smaller following means they tend to be closer to their audience, which in turn can make them appear more relatable and trustworthy. This means that their audience is more likely to listen and take action.  Brand lovers are also being seen as increasingly more reliable, as followers interact with them daily due to their increased social media use.

Whilst these are all ways advocates can help when businesses reopen, the most important factor is ensuring that you, as a brand, find and collaborate with the right advocates whose personalities align with your brand and product. Consumer purchasing intent will increase whenever an advocate demonstrates having knowledge and passion around a product or industry they genuinely love. That’s why collaborating with the ones who take a more authentic and organic approach with prevalent voices will help widen your brand customer base and determine the success of your business when the doors reopen.

Unsure where to start with finding the right brand lovers? Our true advocacy platform allows established brands to engage with the people who already love them, and rising brands to find the people who will love them. We remove your top challenges – finding the right influencer(s) to connect and collaborate with, measuring ROI on your influencer campaigns, and getting influencers’ attention and being able to engage them. We offer an authentic collaboration and a value exchange with people who talk about you because they love your brand not because they are getting paid to. It creates a more passion-led and rewarding experience between you and your brand lovers that proves to generate a greater ROI than any other industry average and can be accessed through Pay-Per-Use or an annual subscription.

So, can you afford not to engage with the advocates who love you, and want to work with you?



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