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A few weeks ago, when we all were first waking up around the country to our new roles of living in a horror movie or series, I had the opportunity to speak with Business Insider's Lindsay Dodgson regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the business of influencer marketing. Specifically, we had a chat on how influencer houses can keep producing content despite social distancing regulations.
The fact is, there is no reason why influencer houses can't keep on ticking along as they continue to produce TikTok and Instagram content. They just need to be savvier and safer. And in fact, it's really rules that could apply to everyone now, and in the future when COVID-19 restrictions come back again in play. In this blog, Hollywood Branded shares our perspective on why influencer houses can keep creating content during COVID-19 (and your own friends and family staying together).
Before we deep dive into some of the thoughts I shared, check out the article Lindsay Dodgson wrote. Get a trial subscription if you need to. I love Business Insider as their articles always pack some punches and are solidly written by their journalists. Plus Lindsay's writing is great, and has a number of different perspectives and voices contributing to the overall article. You can read it here.
I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Before I dive in to influencer houses (and yes I'll explain what influencer houses actuall are.)
I'm becoming obsessed with TikTok myself. It is a GREAT distraction. Tiny little bitty soundbytes of video action that just repeat over and over. It's mindless. It's lighthearted. It's quite frankly - funny and fun. I get why so many youngsters are spellbound and stare at their phones non stop and for hours at a time.
Whenever there is a new social platform, I try to figure it out. It's somewhat essential that both our team at the office and I have more than an inkling on how anything pop culture related works.
And that time for me right now is TikTok. We not only are testing it out by posting all sorts of content on it (some works, some doesn't) but we launched our internship program application through TikTok as well. Talk about creativity, showing up and playing all out! What a great batch of intern candidates we have to choose from! All stars in their own right - and with buckloads more confidence than I would have had in my early 20's or late teens.
My husband and I even made our first TikTok dance video - after spending a considerable amount of time making sure we knew the (very basic) moves. And you know what - our video is AWESOME. I die laughing everytime I play it. Because we dressed up for it. And we created a theme. We are so incredibly stupidly silly looking. It's great. I keep sending it to friends not on TikTok to see. Not being on TikTok themselves, they pretty much think I've lost my mind, but do think it is hilariously funny. After all - most of them were at our wedding, and they know we never practiced even for that!
And as an agency owner going through the worst disaster to ever happen to our agency with COVID-19 putting all productions on hold, I am very happy to have found something that makes me belly laugh. Our own stupidly wacky video in black and white, wearing cowboy hats, and doing a weird arm dance. That keeps cracking me up.
Oh and if you want to check out that dance? Head over to @hollywoodbranded on TikTok and you will get to see me in all my glory.
So give TikTok a try. I promise, you will become spellbound for a lot longer than you thought you would.
And you will actually truly start learning the power of the social influencer too. And why influencer houses exist.
Ok, so back to what I was saying above... influencers like doing things together. They like hanging out, having experiences, and being in a group setting. Plus hey - they can get someone else to hold their camera.
They play off of one another. The hi-jinks and tricks they get up to are funnier in group settings. They can practice off one another, and see if a skit or stunt actually is cool before loading it on their social platforms for millions of eyeballs to see.
They get each other. They can support each other. And they can even do brand cross over campaigns together. With everyone making obscene amounts of money.
And the thing is - many of them (not all) deserve that money. They are creative geniuses. They are the producer, director, cameraman/woman, writer, actor, editor, copywriter, graphic designer, wardobe stylists, transportation captain, location manager, and... whatever else and whoever else that plays a role in a production shoot. It is a TON of people.
And it doesn't end there. They are also the magazine, newspaper, TV show, music video, digital content piece, event or whatever you want to cal it as they are the actual publication house for that content.
And it still doesn't end there. They are the marketer who gets the fans to flock to their social platforms and post and like and heart and share.
Wait... still ticking here. They are the advertising agency (at least the ones without talent agents!) who are brokering deals and creating the contacts and accepting payments for the content they are about to produce.
And they are the face. Where their every moment of every day is cataloged by fans. What did they post? Where did they go? What if they are caught doing something wrong - their brand deals will be caput. What if they say the wrong thing that isn't PC - their fan bases will be caput (brand deals too but here the biggie is the fan base.)
It's a whole lot. And usually these guys and gals are pretty young too.
So by now, you have a better understanding of why these influencers like to hang out together. And also why brands are willing to give them some decent dollars to do all of that content creation. It's a lot of work - even when to the rest of us, it seems like it must be so easy.
Enter the big pink COVID-19 germ ball.
No one is supposed to be living together unless you are immediate family or roommates. No visitors, no going in and out. No running all over town to get different shots to mix up your feed on your social platform.
Influencers who are living together have to weigh right now the decision to try to stay healthy versus making content that may put them in harms way of infection by COVID-19. The reality is, these influencers can make content anywhere. Including locked in a house together.
What limits them is their own creativity. And that’s not to say that they can’t venture outdoors and find other places to be. The limit is on their being around people outside of the house, and trying to do collaborations with individuals who aren’t already with them.
Ok - first of all, you are scratching your head and asking yourself "what the heck is an influencer house?" And guess what - it is JUST like you thought it might be. A house of influencers. Who come together and play and hang and party and create content - together. Because all of those things I just said are better when you are doing them with someone else. They often share rooms in houses that are rented for the, where they have no rent to pay or utilities. Brands drop goodies for them to have, and they get to experience a plus-ed up lifestyle. Pretty cool for someone in high school or just graduated. Even cool for someone under 25 too. It just depends on who the other influencers are that they are hanging with. Because as you would also expect, sometimes there is massive drama. SHOCKING!!!
The New York Times - Hype House and the LA TikTok Mansion Gold Rush
Here's the deal. Influencer houses like Hype House, FaZe house and others will absolutely be able to survive this isolation period because they provide to influencers that one key component that most influencers sorely seem to need: attention and a group setting. The bigger issues the influencer houses have seem to be more about infighting and having some very young people who haven’t run a business before, who all need a lot of focus and attention on them trying to find ways to be in business together, rowing in the same direction – and not fighting for control.
The New York Times - Hype House and the LA TikTok Mansion Gold Rush
Remember we are talking about teens and twenty-somethings who like living life on the edge and likely haven't had nearly enough almost-death experiences or lost friends and family to realize that life can wind down suddenly and be snuffed in an instant.
So worry is not something these influencers are doing.
But they are also big names and faces for hundreds to millions of their fans who are watching their every move, and who will mirror their actions. Which is why governments all around the world have made very big to-do's and outreach to engage influencers to share the safe-at-home messaging.
Beyond health risks, while there is a chance influencers living together might encourage each other to go against guidelines and go out partying and socializing (they are young after all), there is also the fact that they don’t want to become social platform pariahs. Their follower base will be quick to comment on any activities that go outside of activity that is now being regulated by the state or city government, and the heat they may feel from that will hopefully keep them indoors – together.
While there are health risks associated with living in big groups during a pandemic according to doctors, the sheer fact that millions of eyeballs are on these influencers will hopefully ensure that these influencers don’t take undue risks that would cause some of their follower base to mimic that behavior.
Just as Kylie Jenner has logged on to her social feed after the surgeon general asked her to help raise awareness of the dangers of COVID-19, influencers have both an influential and an educational role to play to their followers. Tweens, teens and college students are not understanding the fact that they may be carriers of the virus. The news has reported to such a high degree that this younger demographic is not really in danger of actual death, that people are choosing to ignore social distancing. What they are not understanding is that they may play a role in their own parent’s or grandparents deaths by doing so. Influencers in these houses should be reminding their followers of the risks, and also serve as examples. The more influencers who show that they are out and about and frolicking around, the higher the likelihood that their followers will mimic their actions.
But can they stay safe? Well yes. With some common sense.
Regardless of how many people are living together in an influencer house, if they actually agree to just stay together, and not see people outside of the house at all, they can stay completely safe. However, if just one strays, they will be opening up the possibility of infecting everyone.
It’s a big burden to put on some very young minds who likely feel invincible.
And hopefully they figure it out.
The thing is... it is incredibly important for influencers to be creating content for YouTube, Instagram and TikTok that is not just about COVID-19. The media is ensuring we have a front row to a world of panic filled with fear. Mankind just cannot exist in that state of heightened anxiety 24/7.
Tweens, teens and college students are home grounded from school campuses. Adults are now facing either unemployment or a completely remote workforce, locked in our homes and allowed to leave for only the essentials in life in the largest cities. People are in fear of being able to pay their mortgages or rent, purchase food, pay bills, and not become ill. People are truly scared.
Having influencers create content that is fun is a helpful distraction, as are the different challenges being run on Instagram and TikTok for people to create their own content. This helps keep those viewers grounded and allows a healthy distraction from a sole focus on the dire news of COVID-19.
And who knows - maybe you will be inspired to make your own cowboy-hat-wearing, weird arm dance themed TikTok video of yourself!
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Interested in learning more about working social influencers and celebrities? Check out these blogs that our team has written:
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Topics: Influencer Marketing School, Influencer Marketing 101
Stacy Jones, Hollywood Branded's founder and CEO, has over twenty six years of leadership experience building global entertainment branding campaigns for top Fortune 500 companies and hundreds of brands. Her career started after receiving her BFA in Theater Production & Scenic Design from the University of Arizona. Acknowledged as an expert in the field, she has appeared on CNN and MSNBC; spoken at conferences around the globe from Germany to Beijing; and has been featured in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, Financial Times, The Economist, Brandweek, Advertising Age, Variety, B&C and Mediaweek amongst others. Originally from Texas, you will still hear her ya’ll as she gathers the team for strategy planning sessions. Like all true entrepreneurs, Stacy is an adventurer at her core – having sky dived, hang glided off bi-planes, swam with crocs while rafting the Zambezi in Africa, photographed grizzly bears in Alaska, trekked Mayan ruins in Belize, explored the ocean as an avid scuba diver, and who loves owning an advertising agency where she swims with a different type of Hollywood shark on a daily basis.