Why consumers are turning to influencers during the cost of living crisis

Social media is becoming the favoured source of news information. How can brands use influencers to get the tone right during crises?

Social platforms are changing the way we look for solutions to everyday problems. Jenny Tsai, CEO and Founder of WeArisma, the intelligence and solutions provider for influencer marketing, explains the importance of social platforms and the role of influencers in the cost of living and energy crises.

Everywhere we turn, we encounter media headlines and content focused on the cost of living crisis, inflation (especially regarding food and drink) and the huge hike in energy bills. 

This is prompting a torrent of advice which is welcomed by consumers who are hunting for ways to stay warm and save money. The most useful sources of advice, hints and money-saving tips for consumers are not always obvious. 

Analytics from WeArisma has shown that consumers are turning to influencers for support in ways to save practically and stay resilient and positive during this period. Instagram, TikTok and YouTube are teenagers’ top three news sources, showed the Ofcom July 2022 report. Understanding how influencers can be helpful in this complex scenario will allow brands to better support their communities in the coming months. 

Cost of living is a trending topic

Since earlier this year, the topic of the cost of living has become a daily focus for headlines and for many UK households. Consumers are looking for ways to save money on key items such as food and clothing. In addition, the concern around energy prices also became a focus, as a number of energy companies started to liquidate, leaving millions of Brits with no clear guidance on what was to follow. Over the course of the year, 31 energy companies closed affecting millions of people in the UK. By Q2 of 2022, energy bills were front and centre in most people's minds. 

Which platform are people turning to for influencer advice?

Influencers have adapted and migrated as new platforms have emerged and proliferated – and consumers have moved with them. TikTok is the new kid on the block, with influencers paving the way for brands who are looking to expand reach and engagement. Initially an entertainment platform to fill idle minutes, it is now evolving into a useful tool for consumers looking to find answers and support. 

The influencers’ engagement rates on TikTok across both topics (Cost of Living and Energy Prices) are quite astonishing. The average engagement on TikTok normally sits around 5.96% and for Instagram 0.83%. In Q3 of 2022, the influencers’ engagement sat at around 30% for both topics on TikTok, indicating how much consumers were investing in relevant content. 

Customers expect to hear from brands, but tread carefully

Marketers can use these insights to better understand their customers and how best to help them in this difficult period. The first step is to pinpoint the right influencers to work with and to better understand the topics and types of content with which your brand aligns itself.

A big part of this is understanding the change in how consumers are using the platforms. When there are big topics that don’t necessarily have a positive sentiment, brands must tread carefully so as not to appear tone deaf. Consumers are expecting to hear from the brands they use regularly and empathy will go a long way. 

By working with the right influencers that can understand the challenges that consumers are facing, there is a brilliant opportunity to create a strong relationship with your consumers. Authentic, helpful and valuable influencer communications, especially with the pressures that consumers are currently under, will allow brands to better engage and have genuine conversations with customers. 

Jenny Tsai
CEO and Founder