Your 2020 Social Media Strategy to Tackle  COVID-19 Crisis

2020 kicked off a new decade with a whole new way of life and a set of rules for everyone. They could not have known how COVID-19 has rapidly swept up global markets and discussions as brands prepared their strategies. In the wake of the crisis, other brands and social marketers are pivoting away from the media campaigns they worked so hard to prepare.

It’s not all lost, though, nor has it to be. Awareness, empathy, intent and resilience are at the root of positive positioning of brands right now. Below we will explain how marketers should re-evaluate their planned strategies and content, analyze changing consumer expectations, prepare for the new standard, identify elements of their rescue or scrap strategy.

Review current and expected promotions as well as the content

Get a clear view of your starting place before you ruin anything you’ve worked so hard to prepare. For the time being pause on all planned content and promotions, so you can allow yourself some breathing room while you’re reassessing yourself.

First things first, look at what you want to do right away or in the weeks to come. Ask yourself, despite today’s conditions, does your proposal still make sense? Does this prove insensitive? What is it you can keep? What can be taken off?

People are particularly vulnerable right now and emotions are heightened. Assess the material with this in mind so well-intentioned social posts don’t come off as tone-deaf. John Deere’s Strategic Public Relations Officer, Jen Hartmann, recommends imagining the content in the COVID-19 warnings to help determine whether to retain or cancel a given post.

Put yourself always in the audience’s shoes. What would you feel when a company is giving you a sales pitch right now? How would you feel in this moment about a company making a joke? What do you most as a customer search for during this crisis? We are all human, and at a time like this we must be particularly aware of the difficulties and needs of our audience.

Read the room and find out what parts of the plan need to modify

When you’re uncertain what could turn out to be tone-deaf, social listening will help you gage customer emotions and determine what’s at the top of your audience’s mind.

Hearing is a valuable tool to grasp broader discussions about global events, crisis situations, the company, and more.

A closer analysis found that from February to March, Twitter exchanges about COVID-19 and unemployment or layoffs were up 4.725 percent. In March alone, 800,820 messages addressed unemployment and joblessness. It’s doubtful people would invest the way they would have been a few months ago. When moving on with expected promotions or sales, think about how the audience may have been impacted by the current situation. What value can your brand offer other than your products?

Closing sales may not be the time now, but it’s a perfect time to create relationships and connect with your followers. There’s plenty to think about and customers are searching for constructive online interactions that can get them out of their funk. Messages about helping others rose by 1,174 percent in March, resulting in a month-long 19.5 million messages. Right now, people are looking to link, help and uplift each other.

Another important piece of data from our # BrandsGetReal study has been that 78 percent of consumers really want brands to use media to put them together. In the aftermath of COVID-19, this might mean building Zoom Hangouts for your clients or asking group questions to get people to chat.

For example, via Zoom and their # ChipotleTogether campaign Chipotle Mexican Grill has focused on community-building efforts. The virtual hangouts of the restaurant chain started as a way to put people together because they are socially isolated, and they do not eat alone. The live streams received more than 500 million impressions while helping to collect funds for relief.

Even companies should be aware of the toll COVID-19 has taken on the industries in which they work. The current economic downturn has hit travel, entertainment, and retail particularly hard as people quarantine and delay large purchases. Adjusting how customer behaviour, and keeping on top of benchmark results, will also help you determine where you need to know. Many outlets such as the GlobalWebIndex, IbisWorld and HubSpot are publishing daily data reports on coronavirus’ global impact to help businesses do just that.

Demonstrate that you understand what your company needs from your audience, and show customers how during this extraordinary period you value them. When you emphasize relationship building and customer service, you’ll generate brand loyalty that will last through this crisis.

Sensitivity and importance balance when approaching “business as regular”

Lead on to what your customers are going through with empathy, compassion and sensitivity would serve your company well. People can postpone purchasing, but they also try some sort of daily life to get through this period. 50 per cent of global consumers claim they approve of brands running “standard” ads, according to GlobalWebIndex.

Nonetheless, any business-as-usual operation must be carefully handled. If you’re wary of running “natural” ads, spend more money on education than on commercial ones.

GlobalWebIndex also found that during this period, nearly three-quarters of all global customers surveyed support deals, rewards or customer loyalty benefits. Such promotions and sales that resonate with customers keeping a close eye on their finances, but to avoid criticism for “cashing in” it is important to have total consistency in your messaging.

Consumers are usually able to spend more because they are aware of where their money goes. Especially in times of crisis, people would want to see their dollars helping local businesses and their employees. Instead of pushing a sale, small to medium-sized businesses use social media to communicate how they support their workers during this crisis, how sales impact COVID-19 relief efforts, or when they have had to close a retail store, how consumers will continue to help the company.

The influx in people searching for opportunities to give back to others has been one of the bright points in this pandemic. Social provides an opportunity to confront confusion and tackle the problems facing your company, your customers and communities head-on. As a result, mission-based marketing despite coronavirus has increased by 42 per cent. Allbirds, a sustainable footwear brand, has been using social to develop a donation system to help healthcare staff. The program received sponsorship that culminated in donating $500k of shoes, and the organization has since added a “buy-one-give-one” buying option, at their community’s suggestion.

Brands should have a finger on the pulse for all the tools and data out there, which lets them know when to step back or when the time to act is right. Act org-wide with leadership and teams to assess the next steps in the company in a number of circumstances. Would you know what the shelter-in-place / stay-at-home order would look like when the communications and social policy ends? Why would the social policy change if the policies of social distancing are applied for more months? Train through these types of situations and your reactions to them now and you’re ready for the new standard.

Conclusion

We can’t predict the future, but it is definitely something brands should prepare for. We saw a 3.919 percent rise in volume from February to March when looking at social listening data from our COVID-19 Featured Topic with the keywords “latest standard” and “marketing,” showing that marketers are constantly seeking guidance about how to respond to the current environment.

Different sectors have different problems, and there’s no one size that suits all the answer to the social strategy. Nevertheless, several companies have evolved and evolved, calming outrage fears with insightful social content and business strategies.

Be good to yourself particularly during this time. Demonstrate the Brand’s human face. Take on important ties. Keep engaging with your colleagues and check in. Know from what you do, and what you did. The expression “hindsight is 20/20” would have a whole new significance in our post-quarantine world so step forward and make it count.