Smart Technology For Addressing Pandemic Disruption: Impact of Social Media Influencers on Brand Awareness During the Pandemic

Smart Technology For Addressing Pandemic Disruption: Impact of Social Media Influencers on Brand Awareness During the Pandemic

Kaneez Masoom
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-9418-6.ch001
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Social media's emergence as a communication platform for consumers to interact with or about brands has significantly altered brand-consumer relationships. Companies are increasingly investing in influencer marketing, or hiring digital influencers to endorse their brands, as social media marketing becomes more advantageous. Influencers are changing the way brands create content, as well as how users consume and share it. The role of social media influencers in raising brand awareness, particularly during extraordinary times such as pandemics, is still in its early stages. Despite technological advancements and an increase in the number of online influencers, many challenges remain for businesses to connect with consumers during pandemics. The impact of social media influencers on brand awareness during a global pandemic is discussed in this chapter.
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As a growing number of consumers shop online, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in significant growth for internet-based businesses (Abidin, C. 2015). The global e-commerce market is expected to grow by 27.6 percent to $4.28 trillion USD by 2020 (Al-Debei 2013). In recent years, organisations have been subjected to the introduction of digital technologies, which have transformed organisations, interactions with consumers, and value creation (Aral S et al., 2014). Online shopping has made it easier for consumers to compare products, and they can easily select the products that best meet their needs (Awad et al.,). Young consumers have largely shifted to online shopping, influencing how businesses must operate because young consumers are more likely to shop through social media (Bailey et al.,). At the same time, the global pandemic has shed light on the power of so-called social media influencers (SMIs), also known as “micro-celebrities.” Influencers have been identified as an effective and strategic marketing channel for products and ideas (Klassen et al., 2018). In 2019, it was predicted that by 2022, brands would spend $15 billion on influencer engagement globally. (Schomer, 2019)

As countries around the world went into lockdown, businesses cut back on operations, and marketing budgets were drastically cut, some observers predicted that the social media influencer industry would be 'killed off' (see e.g. Hamdan, 2020; Tsapovsky, 2020). COVID-19 appeared to have signalled the end of influencer marketing as we know it, as the emphasis shifted from economic prosperity and personal gratification to public health and, to a lesser extent, environmental protection. However, as the world adjusted to life in the midst of a pandemic, it became clear that many commercially driven influencers would thrive, implying that because people are hungry for online content, influencers have become even more important as a channel for the marketing of ideas and products (Stephens, 2020). According to statistics, social media use has skyrocketed during the lockdown, with engagement increasing by 61 percent over normal usage rates in a survey of 30 markets (Holmes, 2020). While some influencers have clearly struggled to adapt to changing market conditions and rapidly shrinking commercial opportunities (Elliott, 2020), others have capitalised on public confusion and disorientation to increase their power, reach, and, ultimately, post-COVID marketability and market share (Ewens, 2020).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Social Media Information System: Social media information system (SMIS)- is an information system that supports the sharing of content among networks of users.

Digital Marketing: Digital marketing is the component of marketing that uses the Internet and online based digital technologies such as desktop computers, mobile phones and other digital media and platforms to promote products and services

Consumer Behaviour: Consumer behavior is the study of individuals, groups, or organizations and all the activities associated with the purchase, use and disposal of goods and services. Consumer behaviour consists of how the consumer's emotions, attitudes, and preferences affect buying behaviour.

Brand Awareness: The extent to which consumers are familiar with the qualities or image of a particular brand of goods or services.

Influencer Marketing: Influencer marketing is a form of social media marketing involving endorsements and product placement from influencers, people and organizations who have a purported expert level of knowledge or social influence in their field

Social Media Marketing: Social media marketing is the use of social media platforms and websites to promote a product or service. Although the terms e-marketing and digital marketing are still dominant in academia, social media marketing is becoming more popular for both practitioners and researchers.

BRAND: A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that distinguishes one seller's good or service from those of other sellers.

Product: A product is the item offered for sale. A product can be a service or an item. It can be physical or in virtual or cyber form. Every product is made at a cost and each is sold at a price.

Brand impact: Brand impact means significantly influencing a person's perception of a brand to the extent where they're engaging with them on an emotional level.

Online Persona: Internet identity (IID), also online identity or internet persona, is a social identity that an Internet user establishes in online communities and websites.

Social media environment: Social media environments refer to online spaces where individuals establish and maintain virtual social interactions with others.

Influencer: A person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media.

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