As a digital/social media marketer, you know the power and value of having strong influencers tout the benefits of your brand. In this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, though, the way you work with and position influencers for your audience has to be appropriate and strategically wise.

Consumers are focused on issues of survival these days, not as much about how a celebrity is promoting a product. Consumers still want influencer connection, though. In fact, new research from Mavrck finds that 34% of influencers surveyed have seen their engagement increase during the pandemic.

So, you absolutely should not abandon your influencers — you just need to reframe your relationship with them to suit these unprecedented times. Here are the key new rules you need to follow to do this successfully:

Make genuine voices your only voices.

Adweek data indicates that brands need to "pursue authenticity" with their spokespeople right now. It's crucial that the influencers you choose to speak for you now are honest and have a track record for professional trustworthiness. Your influencers also must have respectable personal reputations.

Let them know you're going to check their social media for any missteps when it comes to any posted statements on COVID-19. Several public figures have recently gotten into hot water this way, so you want to make sure that the folks you work with have not communicated any negative or inappropriate references. Your influencers should earn gravitas through kindness and empathy now, above all else.

Enact key promotional switches.

EMarketer indicates that brands are now shifting their influencers' marketing might to newly in-demand products. Swap your most popular influencers' product assignments to the most practical items or services you offer.

It's OK if a particularly popular influencer promoted nonessential items in the past — you can, for example, successfully move a fashion influencer to a home goods assignment, as long as they express genuine enthusiasm for that cleaner or appliance they are now promoting. If you do this logically and make sensible new influencer-product pair-ups, what your audience needs will seamlessly mesh with the voices they trust and like the most.

Consider "faceless" campaigns.

Having an influencer do a voice-over while key informational data is on the screen can be doubly powerful. To choose the right influencer for this kind of job, it's perfectly fine to ask your influencers to "audition" for the assignments.

You want to make sure they're as comfortable reading prepared copy as they are free-associating in posts. Surprisingly, you may see the most vivacious and personable influencers don't do as well or feel comfortable in a more scripted messaging situation. The point of asking your influencers to read copy for you will show you who needs a bit of coaching so they can deliver your copy well.

Put your executives up front.

Making your CEO into an influencer is a great way to win your customers' trust and calm their worries, as they are getting their brand info straight from the top.

Work on your executives' social media profiles so your audience can know more about them, and relate to them as living, breathing human beings. Then, open up a Q & A forum weekly or monthly, so your audience can have live interactions with your top brass, and feel free to ask questions or make suggestions directly.

Avoid frivolity.

Don't allow any influencer you work with to post silly fluff content at this time. If you find you have an influencer who doesn't want to cooperate in this way, it you should part company with them, at least temporarily.

Comforting, warm, humane content that's packed with solid information and help for your consumers should be your focus. Your influencers are a true reflection of your brand, so get them on the same page with you, and your customers will stick with you now and for the long haul.