April showers bring May flowers...and Mental Health Awareness Month. It couldn’t be more timely given the persistence of COVID-19 and the social distancing lockdown. Julius takes mental health very seriously; It’s close to our hearts, and we feel strongly that we all must take action to ensure mental stability.
Mental health is top of mind across the globe, and that goes for influencers, too. It has been widely discussed that influencers themselves have been struggling with mental health. As we discussed with Lina Renzina, of the Ad Council, on episode 4 on the Julius Profile podcast, influencers have been challenged by a variety of high-demand, very public pressures in their careers which often mesh into their personal lives. As COVID-19 has slammed into society, this mental strain has most likely compounded. On the flip side, in last week’s newsletter we highlighted an article from PR Week about how influencer marketing is entering its golden age with more consumers on social digest content during the pandemic. Influencers are finding broader value with their ability to connect and community building. They have also become a source of mental relief through their high quality content that is relatable, entertaining, and utilitarian–allowing consumers to sink their teeth into something juicy while in isolation.
Following the lead of Mental Health America, we’ve encouraged our team to build their own set of #Tools2Thrive–an opportunity to recognize and own feelings, connect with others, and create healthy routines. As our head of HR, Nicole Schiller remarked,“Our employees are our most important asset and we deeply care about them. As the team continues to work remotely, making sure their mental well-being is in check is essential to retain happy employees and keep the business full-steam ahead.” Each week Nicole will be sharing resources on these topics with the team, which in turn we will share in the Julius newsletter–click here to subscribe.
The #Tools2Thrive initiative in the same vein that some big brands are taking, such as HBO’s ‘It’s OK’ campaign. The talent-led messaging leverages airtime and social media to notify their audience that being in touch with themselves during this tough time is important, and not feeling 100% is appropriate but should be addressed responsibly. Ad agencies–one of the more mentally challenging places to work–are taking extra steps to support the mental health of their workers by championing parents, encouraging breaks, and providing resources. More directly, Headspace has partnered with New York Governor Cuomo’s office to provide free meditation and mindfulness content.
But mental health surrounding the social media industry has been considered important even before COVID-19 changed daily operations. A few months ago, Social Media Week hosted its first Empany Week to help teens reflect on and embrace the importance of empathy and mental health awareness in the daily lives of high school students. It was clear then, and more so now, that mental health is nuanced and greatly impacted by social media. For more about Empathy Week and the key learnings from that event, see this blog post.
With that in mind, we’d like to pay it forward–here are a few ideas and resources to help you stay creative, proactive, and mindful during COVID-19:
- Zoom to Zoom. Skip the phone call and get some virtual face time with influencers. As you certainly know by now, video conferencing has replaced the casual meet up, and you can still make it fun! For the initial chat, send them a cocktail recipe to create so you can enjoy a unique drink together.
- Find a Great Influencer Post. As influencers are continuing to pump out content on social, pay close attention to their stories. They, too, are going through a tough time and are sharing whatever they can to stay active on social and keep their brand intact. I suggest finding one great post they share, write down what you love about it, and then tell them what you discovered. You don’t have to be planning a campaign to start a relationship with an influencer.
- Create Something IRL. So you're stuck at home, which is also your gym, \your coffee shop, your office and you’re stuck on your influencer brief. It’s just not coming together. It’s time to step away from the screen and put a little fuel in the fire–create something with your hands. Be it with LEGO bricks or acrylic art, the singular focus will be meditative, and the results will be rewarding.
- Get Weird. Consistency is the enemy of innovation. Routine is good, but then you’re not doing anything new. Regardless if it’s work related or not, shake things up. Try new things. Experiment with everything.Push yourself to become something different, even if it’s just temporary.
- Daily Creative Exercises. Even if you’re a brilliant photographer and you only create photos for brand work, being a strong writer will help you appeal to brands, construct stories, and possibly even help you add a new medium to your craft. Need help getting started? Check out this subreddit for writing prompts,.
- Find Other Influencers. There is no doubt that if you have accumulated a mass of followers, no matter how small, you have the skills to create high quality content that engages. However, there is always room to collaborate–finding like minded influencers can help you discover new perspectives and tactics. Go even further and find influencers that aren’t even remotely related to the content you share. Are you a travel influencer? Find a gaming influencer and introduce yourself to learn more about live streaming. Are you a beauty influencer? Find a foodie to learn about their process to orchestrate a recipe or compose their photography–it might just inspire you for your next make up combination!
- Engage a Follower. Influencers gain followers through their stellar content and storytelling, but just relying on sheer talent, or luck, isn’t sustainable. Getting in touch with your audience, hearing what they think, and knowing what they want more of is a great way to set yourself up for the future. See a follower that is consistently engaging with your content? Send them a DM and get to know them better, why they follow you, and what they care about. Use that as inspiration to fuel your next content series, and be sure to give them a shoutout!
- Change Your Environment. Your surroundings can greatly impact your creative inspiration, workflows, and deliverable output. However, if you’re stuck in one place, your work might feel stuck as well. Since we’re on lock down, do what you can to spice up or alter your surroundings -- move furniture, get new plants, hang new artwork, or even just play different music to transport yourself to somewhere new and inspirational.