In this uncertain time of global pandemic, Find Your Influence checked in with some influencers by email to see how they’re holding up and how things are changing for them.
We connected with Jane Ko, an Austin-based food and travel blogger, Alicia Tenise, a DC-based lifestyle, fashion and travel blogger, Melissa Gitt, a Scottsdale-based fashion, beauty and travel blogger, and Diana Elizabeth, a Phoenix-based lifestyle blogger.
During these uncertain times, as an influencer, how are you building and engaging your online community?
Jane Ko: “I am very connected to the city of Austin so once COVID-19 impacted the city the restaurants and bars were mandated to close. This caused closures and thousands of service industry people have been laid off. All of my content has been sharing the restaurants that have pivoted to offering takeout/curbside and even cocktail to-go now! I have also been sharing any content that offers relief to those who have been let go.
I also launched two projects to help two different industries in Austin:
- hireacreative.co – an online platform for creatives to be discovered and hired. When SXSW was canceled this year, hundreds of creatives lost their gigs and the city lost out on potentially 350 million dollars. Five years ago I struggled to get hired as a freelancer and wondered why there wasn’t a website to be connected with other creatives and be discovered and hired. In the first 24 hours, over 100 creatives have signed up and we’ve already received 3 job opportunities from companies.
- hundred for hospitality – with the impact of COVID-19, restaurants and bars were mandated to close which resulted in thousands of people in the service industry to be let go. I was inspired to create Hundred For Hospitality to provide 100 meals a day for at least 14 days to those in the service industry that have been impacted by COVID-19. I wanted to empower my audience to help donate to the GoFundMe so we can provide stipends to local restaurants to take turns cooking meals each day. We raised $1500 in 3 hours and I’ve pledged to match donations up to $1000 from my audience as well.
Alicia Tenise: “I think it’s important for me as a content creator to stay positive during these times, and create useful, relevant, and inspiring content for my readers while we’re in this social distancing period. Right now, I’m encouraging my community to stay at home through a series of posts, and to lift their spirits by encouraging them to practice gratitude and self-care.”
Melissa Gitt: “I’m keeping things optimistic and real. I’m continuing to be a distraction and (hopefully) inspiration for my followers.”
Diana Elizabeth: “I’m showing my community what I’m tackling at home – the projects, and asking for their feedback on lifestyle changes (like should I be canceling my beauty appointments?). Once I came home from Taiwan after three weeks and realized I came back to a different U.S. with the lockdowns and staying inside, I wanted to reassure my community it would be OK since I saw Taiwan residents do the same. Many told me they were thankful I wrote the post because they were getting anxiety. I continue to maintain transparency and lightheartedness on my feed and share any tips that we might need with our new lifestyle we are all adjusting to. I believe if we share our hearts, people will connect with that and we can connect more on social media than we ever have before.”
In light of COVID-19, have you changed what content you post and if so, how?
Jane Ko: “Yes – I normally post light restaurant, lifestyle, and travel content but since COVID-19 happened – I’ve only been posting content that helps local businesses and creatives.”
Alicia Tenise: “Yes. Travel is a big vertical for me, but I understand that it is important to stay home and flatten the curve during this period, so I am shifting my focus. Right now, I am sharing tips and tricks on how my readers can make the most out of their time at home.”
Melissa Gitt: “I’m only posting in the house, since we really aren’t getting out. That’s a huge change for me.”
Diana Elizabeth: “I had sponsored blog posts scheduled and I checked with my community to make sure they were OK with me still posting them. I received great feedback and they wanted normalcy. I did adjust text in captions and on the blog to what is going on, I couldn’t say I was throwing an Easter party any longer because I wasn’t sure if I could, so I modified it to indoor decor for Easter. It’s important to modify content with what’s going on or else your audience won’t find it genuine and won’t be able to connect with what you are trying to share.
I also noticed an increase in gardening and that’s what I love to share so I republished content that had to do with gardening to help my community with the start of their garden journey.
It’s also important to reach out to brands to ask if there have been any changes with how they are serving their customers during these times – maybe stores aren’t open but they are still able to fulfill online orders, or there’s a discount if they place an order now and once things are back to normal the services can be fulfilled. The more we can communicate the changes to our audience the more helpful we are as bloggers/influencers and helping the brands and businesses who we partner with.”
What tips do you have for others in terms of content and hashtags?
Jane Ko: “I think situations like this are an opportunity for influencers to use their platforms for good. Whether that’s donating a percentage of your earnings back into your community, rallying your audience to donate to a cause, and sharing positive content – we wouldn’t have our own brands if it wasn’t for the people that follow up and this is the time to give back. Not to sell for profit, but to give back. People are rallying around resources that are helping people that are impacted by COVID-19.”
Alicia Tenise: “Think about what content is relevant right now, and avoid posting tone-deaf posts. For example, switch out the “spring wedding guest attire” post you had planned for a “work from home loungewear” type of post.”
Melissa Gitt: “I’d say stay true to yourself, and be the distraction your community is looking for! We aren’t experts in public health, so staying true to our content is key. I’ve also focused on things that can help people feel good! For example, taking off my SNS dip powder nails at home, or sharing at home workouts. I haven’t switched up hashtags much, as I don’t generally see a huge help from them anyways.”
Diana Elizabeth: “I’m using the same hashtags I’ve always used. For content we have to remember things are indoors more, so indoor decor, backyard, lifestyle is back at home at the moment and it would be great if we can focus our content back and also show our communities how to embrace it.”
The FYI team encourages you to check in on loved ones and find ways to show kindness, even from a distance. Send a note of encouragement to an influencer you follow. Let them know they are appreciated.