How influencers have evolved in 2020

By Charlotte Winterbourne

With many hospitality organisations putting a halt to influencer marketing while COVID-19 paused activity, now, more than ever, may be the best time to create meaningful relations with influencers to promote your business and reach a wide variety of hospitality consumers. 

With many sectors being hit hard by lockdown, and many employees across the UK furloughed many influencers saw a surge in traffic on their profiles and blogs from followers stuck as home, with many consumers seeking unlimited content to digest in order to cure the insufferable boredom they faced. Despite the UK and many other countries opening up, the favourite phrase ‘content is king’ has never been more true, and organisations should be quick to take advantage of this surge of consumer interest by capitalising on influencer relations.  

The recent 2020 state of the influencer report by PRWeek and Vuelio revealed that apart from super-sized influencers, most are receiving fewer pitches than usual, despite the increased interest in their accounts, with influencers receiving a pitch less than once a week increasing by 16% since 2016. In addition, unlike other media with long lead times to publication and multiple stakeholders to please, influencers are in a flexible position to respond quickly to ongoing fluctuations in the current climate, ensuring content is always timely and can be focussed to meet your ever-adapting targets. 

Trust and empathy 

With many consumers stating they don’t trust brands’ marcomms to be accurate or truthful (Edelman Brand Trust Survey 2019), influencers can provide an additional level of trust to content with on average 70% of their content being organic and independent, however ensuring that sponsored content is signposted is not only a legal requirement, but allows for the transparency that followers crave. Influencers can cover topics that are important to consumers that mainstream media may neglect, therefore influencers should be considered for more meaningful campaigns such as the CTA-driven content on social issues such as body image or Black Lives Matter that has been increasingly prevalent in recent months. 


When considering what type of influencer to approach, there should a variety of means to consider. Firstly, budget can dictate the reach of your campaign and thus the size of influencer you pitch to, as 77% of influencers seek compensation for some of their collaborations (PR Week & Vuelio). For travel influencers in particular, 66receive some form of compensation, with the most common payment being between £101-250 (25%), followed by £251-500 (16%), and then £1-100 (15%). Most frequent paid-for activity includes sponsored blog posts and sponsored social-media content, and brand ambassador schemes, where influencers work in long-term relationships with brands to frequently promote their offering, is the highest paid activity. 


Connecting with smaller influencers (less than 50k unique users) can also be beneficial in the likelihood of your pitch actually reaching them. Bigger influencers, quite obviously, tend to be contacted much more often than smaller influencers, with 59% of big influencers being pitched to more than seven times a week, while 85% of small channels are contacted less than once a week. Ensuring your pitch is in line with their audience and other content is crucial to breaking through this noise, as three-quarters of influencers reject pitches due to its lack of relevance, however with a multitude of offers for press events, gifts and free trips, they simply aren’t able to say yes to it all. 


The rise of nano-influencers should also not be ignored by brands, especially with COVID-19 placing even more emphasis on trust and authenticity from companies. Nano influencers encompasses individuals with followings of between 1-5k, whose lack of ‘celebrity’ allows them to influence authentically and deliver more intimate engagement with followers. Influencer Intelligence’s newly-published ‘The rise of the nano influencer’ report found that 34% of organisations surveyed said nano influencers are their most successful influencer partnership, resulting in 69% believing that nano influencers have boosted consumer engagement. The worries about budget and ROI are also minimised, with half of respondents stating that nano influencers are most cost-effective out of all of their influencer relationships. 


Influencers are increasingly being seen as a viable marketing channel by many brands, especially in their plights to showcase empathy and trustworthiness in a society of ‘cancel culture’ and being ‘woke’. However, brands must consider their own audiences and how these correspond to the influencers they’re targeting when reaching out for partnerships, and additionally carve out budget for building these connections. When done right, influencer ambassadors and paid for content across a wide range of platforms can truly amplify your brands message in an authentic, and trusted, voice. 

Custard comment: “Through in-depth analysis, Charlotte identifies and builds robust and beneficial social partnerships and plans with nano and macro influencers, to support our leisure clients’ integrated marketing and PR strategies. These partnerships provide our clients with a platform to amplify their campaigns to a targeted and highly engaged audience, while remaining authentic and on message.” 

For more information on how Custard can support your influencer marketing strategy, contact our team