MANILA -- With the COVID-19 crisis causing people to stay at home and limiting opportunities for content creation, will influencers be able to survive?
If we are to look at the results of Tuesday's panel discussion on the topic, the answer is yes.
Content creators Erwan Heussaff and Carlo Ople were among the speakers in the first episode of the online show "Re/Start," which tackled the future of influencer marketing in the country.
Heussaff believes that "it comes down to the purpose" of the influencer, and the value he or she gives to brands and the public.
"As long as that value is intrinsic and central to what you do online, then you have a purpose. And as long as you have a purpose, then you're gonna be okay through this," he said.
Ople agreed, but added that influencers need to step up their game if they want to survive the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.
"Influencers or content creators in general will have to evolve. Kasi if you take a look at the current pandemic, budgets are being slashed, advertising is not as big as it used to be," he explained.
He continued: "So if you don't evolve and start thinking like a media company, like a content creator, try to go multi-platform and study all the different revenue mechanisms that you can have, then you will die out. Kasi 'di na sustainable, wala ka nang pera. Hindi mo naman puwedeng ipangkain 'yung likes, di ba?"
The three other speakers in the online discussion -- Lazada Philippines chief marketing officer Neil Trinidad, Instagram Asia-Pacific head of product marketing Alexander de Leon, and D+Gility - Dentsu Aegis Network head of social and general manager Jim de Guzman -- similarly believe that influencers will continue to play a crucial role in promoting and selling products and services.
Trinidad, in particular, said influencer marketing will always be part of Lazada's strategy for creating "authentic content," noting the emergence of other platforms such as TikTok and livestreams.
HOW TO RESTART
When asked how the industry can restart after the pandemic, Heussaff advised influencers and content creators to "take the time and reassess everything" as well as hone their existing skills.
"Whatever you think you're good at and whatever values you can lend to the brand or your audience, just try to get better at that... You don't always have to be at the forefront of a branded deal. You don't always have to have your face next to a product. You can also say, 'Look, I can really shoot this can of tomato better than anyone else for a lower budget.' And maybe that's enough for me without having to distribute it, these people can distribute on their channels. You can create ads for them like that," he said.
Echoing Ople's statement on influencers and content creators as media companies as opposed to individuals, Heussaff continued: "Have a plan. Stop thinking of yourself as an individual that got popular on social media platforms and more of a media company that's creating various videos or content online so that you understand the next year, the next two years you have goals, you have things that you want to achieve."
Ople, for his part, encouraged influencers and content creators to "tap and leverage" on the community they have built online as they come up with other ways to evolve, such as starting their own business.
"The most powerful thing that you have is your audience... The question lang is how do you shift and evolve so that you can offer them more value, so you can be more sustainable, or you can build a bigger business? So that's the challenge today," he said.
"There are so many things right now that you can tap and leverage so that you can grow a business, start a business, all hinged on the initial community that you were able to build. You just have to be creative with what you can do," he ended.