Influencers vs COVID-19
September 2020

By Alex Jeater

It’s no secret that COVID-19 has drastically affected all of our lives. In fact, that’s probably the most obvious sentence written this year. Both personally and professionally, the pandemic has disrupted the world as we know it, and the online influencer industry is no exception.

With the world stuck at home with no choice but to talk to their household or find entertainment online, people chose online. According to Ofcom, UK adults spent a quarter of their waking day online during lockdown. Out of all the social media platforms, TikTok saw the biggest growth, with the number of UK visitors more than doubling in the space of three months, from 5.4 million in January, to 12.9 million in April.

There was clearly demand for content during lockdown. But, with travel influencers confined to their homes, and foodies no longer visiting restaurants, how did they adapt and keep their followers interested and engaged?

Here’s our pick of the sectors – and influencers – which nailed #lockdownlife.

Fitness

At the start of lockdown, panic ensued as gyms across the country closed and fitness personalities could no longer get their ‘gains’. However, the closure of gyms saw the rise of online home workouts, streamed primarily on IGTV and YouTube. As one of the original fitness influencers, and an avid home workout pioneer, Joe Wicks’ (@thebodycoach) popularity skyrocketed during lockdown. His hugely successful ‘PE With Joe’ workouts kept children entertained and focused on having fun while getting fit, and his YouTube subscribers increased from 800k to 2.2 million in just three weeks.

Other fitness influencers, including James Middleton (@jamesmiddleton), also took to Instagram to stream their home workouts, which could be watched live every weekday, or later on IGTV.
PE With Joe

Food 

Influencers that weren’t getting fit during lockdown were instead cooking up a storm in the kitchen. The UK was in search of hearty food that looked good on the grid, and one influencer that served this up in abundance was William Hughes (@whatwillycook). His ‘recipes not stressipies’ included miso steak and broccoli stir fry, chorizo mac and cheese and ‘a big fat pizza’ (pictured). His success in lockdown even secured him a deal with Mob Kitchen.

Baking also became a hugely popular pastime, with banana bread being the baked good of choice (if you didn’t see at least five different banana bread pics on your feed during lockdown, who do you even follow?). Brighton-based baker Martha Collinson (@marthacollinson) appealed to the masses with her easy ‘store cupboard baking’ recipes that could be made using just a few ingredients; ideal for those that weren’t lucky enough to get their hands on any flour.

What Willy Cook

Fashion

If being confined to our homes had one positive, it was the acceptance of wearing loungewear 24/7. Never has comfort been more important than during a global pandemic. At the beginning of lockdown, LoveTheSales.comreported a 433% increase in demand for loungewear. Naturally, many fashion influencers jumped at the chance to showcase their loungewear on Instagram, including former Love Island contestant Olivia Bowen (@oliviadbowen), who launched a new loungewear collection with In The Style.

Another former Love-Islander-turned-fashion-influencer, Molly-Mae Hague (@mollymayhague), also kept up with the loungewear trend and regularly uploaded photos of her comfy Pretty Little Thing outfits to appeal to her audience.

 

Olivia Bowen

Travel

This may seem like a surprising one considering flights were cancelled and borders were closed, but lockdown meant that travel influencers were able to focus on localised content and showcase to followers the beauty on their doorstep (as well as an array of throwback pics, of course). Take a peek at Chloe Gunning’s (@wanderlustchloe) feed and you’ll see dreamy throwback photos from far-flung destinations but also lots of good old Blighty, including Whitstable beach and the idyllic Surrey countryside.

Over on the Emerald Isle, Tara Povey (@whereistara) has been capturing the beauty of Ireland in her most recent posts; showing her followers the lesser-known areas to discover and proving you don’t need to travel far for Insta-worthy views.

Summary

But what does the influencer industry look like in a post COVID-19 world? Many might presume that the influencer lifestyle isn’t sustainable, but considering they successfully adapted their content to a pandemic, they seem a flexible bunch. Furthermore, with restaurants and gyms now open and some travel restrictions easing, we predict that influencers will begin – if they have not already – to churn out a steady stream of fresh content from exciting new locations. The industry is resilient and here to stay.

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