That’s the question Instagram influencers are asking themselves, as posts bearing the #Ad tag dropped a whopping 30% in April compared to the year before. According to a study by marketing firm Socialbakers, influencer ad tags hit their lowest numbers since August 2019.

So It’s ‘Rona, Right?

Not exactly. While the pandemic has had chilling effects on virtually everything except T.P. sales, #Ad tag posts had already been sliding for some time. In January, the tag was down 38% from the previous year, as many brands began backing off influencer partnerships back in November.

Gretchen, Stop Trying To Make #SponCon Happen

Even as social-media activity has soared, influencer interactions weren’t making the cut, with their efficiency falling 41% year-over-year against brands’ owned posts. One pre-pandemic cause: the sponcon field got more crowded than a free-champagne tent at Coachella, so users simply tuned out.

Hashtag Not All Ad Tags

Not every category saw a decrease in influencer… influence. Travel and other locked-down-by-the-lockdown categories cratered (duh). From mid-March to mid-May, mentions of parties (-36%), sunglasses (-27%), music festivals (-24%), performing arts (-24%), vacations (-23%), wine (-19%), live events (-19%), hotels (-18%), seafood (-18%) and nightclubs (-18%) all dried up, as would be expected.

Which begs the question: what categories are still hot for influencers in these feverish times? Influencers still saw higher engagement ratios than brands in insurance, health, finance, telecom, and accommodations.

Who’s Still Showing Them the Money?

Believe it or not: Walmart. Although mobile-phone accessory maker Ideal of Sweden has the most influencer mentions (1,800 from 1,300 influencers in Q1), Walmart is a close second globally and the most-mentioned brand in the U.S. these days. This reflects Walmart’s recent focus on building buzz through creator partnerships. Also at the table: Netflix U.S., Quest Nutrition (health food), Daniel Wellington (watches), and Na-Kd.com (women’s clothing).

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