COVID-19 and Activating Influencers for Cause Marketing

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By the end of March, with over 30,800 confirmed cases, a rapidly growing infection rate, and increasing panic, New York became the frontline of COVID-19. The city needed a solution, and quickly crafted public service announcements to generate awareness and implore those who could stay at home to flatten the curve.

Influencer marketing is one of the most persuasive forms of marketing, and became a necessary piece of the “Stop the Spread” campaign-integrated strategy. Influencers of all generations, states, verticals, audience sizes, races, religions and ethnicities were tapped in order to spread the message and reach as many demographics as possible.

As misinformation was running rampant, it was essential to ensure the influencer content was informative and accurate. The content was carefully reviewed prior to publishing, and PSAs were provided as resources for the influencers to understand and relay vital information to their audiences.

Leaning into the authentic voices of influencers and allowing them to direct their own narratives and reaction to COVID-19 was paramount to the campaign’s success. In total, over 150 influencers were assembled and were passionate about helping stop the spread–and the results were impressive. The two hashtags (#NYCStoptheSpread and #USAStoptheSpread) garnered over 2MM impressions from 371 pieces of content across seven social media platforms. Although our main metric was impressions, we managed to secure over 120K social engagements with a 5.6 percent campaign engagement rate.


Key Takeaways For Cause-Driven Marketers

  • Target influencers who have been personally affected by the cause. COVID-19 has affected everyone, but this is not the norm. Be sure to research influencers thoroughly to determine if they are the right fit for the campaign–if it’s something they’ve already discussed on their channels, they are most likely passionate about the cause.
  • Target influencers who should care about the cause and tell them why. Clearly communicate “the why” upfront and be empathetic to motivate potential partners. Include data that proves why the cause is something they and their audience should care about.
  • Provide assets to ensure the cause is able to be communicated effectively on social media.Is the cause something that people are already aware of? Influencers can amplify messaging and are amazing storytellers, but at the end of the day, they are at the mercy of the medium, and visual content is key. Empowering influencers with resources and assets (like PSAs or infographics) is a great way to succinctly communicate the key message.
  • Create plans to help the influencers communicate effectively. If influencers are addressing a controversial topic that may raise debate or spur conversation, be sure they have all the information needed to speak eloquently and accurately. Have a plan in place for how and if they will respond to questions or comments.
  • Determine the value for the influencer–especially if monetary compensation is off the table.It is always best to compensate influencers for their time and effort. If monetary compensation is not possible, consider what else is in it for the influencer. Make sure to communicate the impact their content would have on the cause, the exposure amplification would provide them, or offer an exclusive experience or product that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to.


Overall, while cause-marketing has its own unique challenges and hurdles, it is extremely fulfilling. Watching the influencers you’ve partnered with help make a difference is a huge win, and reading through the responses from their audience can be a mood-booster that provides a sense of pride in your work.

Alyssa has spent her career building best-in-class social media and influencer marketing strategies across a number of client verticals including luxury, CPG, travel, food & beverage, spirits, nonprofit, automotive and financial. She’s worked with high profile clients like Lexus and American Express and most recently has joined Oliver Agency in Unilever’s U-Studio as the Director of Content and Community. She leads the content and community nurturing department, overseeing a robust portfolio of 20 food & refreshment and beauty & personal care brands. abheadshot


October 26, 2020
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