This article is a guest post by our partners at Copacino + Fujikado.
As strategists, we’ve spent the latter half of 2019 creating a sound social media plan full of exciting new influencer campaigns, content buckets, and community management practices. But in a matter of weeks, our lives have flipped upside down due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
When every definition of normalcy has changed drastically, the obvious question that’s popped into everyone’s mind is:
How do you handle social media marketing in the middle of a pandemic?
We’re always told to embody human empathy and a realness in our digital personas while we continue our sales efforts. So why should that underlying strategy change during this new normal?
It doesn’t. Our tactics may shift but human empathy should still be the foundation.
While we can’t give you a step-by-step guide, we can help shine some light on a few things to think about during this challenging time.
1. Evaluate your content calendars and shift your message strategy.
With social distancing now firmly in place, social media usage has understandably increased. But don’t mistake that as a sign that business is as usual. The last thing you want to be is a tone-deaf company pushing inappropriate sales messaging or talking about a big event with the situation at hand.
Take a hard look at your messaging (visuals included) and adjust them to fit the current climate. If you have a brick-and-mortar presence, communicate the state of your stores and realistic product and delivery expectations.
This may mean some campaigns that were planned might have to pause for now. Influencer campaigns may need to shift to encourage stay-at-home or get cancelled completely.
Consumers want to know that the brand they follow is doing everything they can to be a positive member of their community and not just a sales machine trying to profit during a global pandemic.
2. Become a valuable resource for your followers, for free.
An organic following is a sign of brand loyalty. People choose to see your brand’s social posts on their feed. So why not turn it into a hub of valuable information for them? This is a great chance to better align your brand with values that are now at the forefront of consumers’ mind.
If your company provided financial literacy courses pre-COVID, create a series of posts where you share helpful tips right on their Instagram feed. If you’re a lifestyle brand, offer content that can help consumers stay entertained during stay-at-home orders.
Awareness and customer retention should be a big priority right now. You want to make sure your brand stays top of mind when we return to some level of normalcy.
3. Help out local businesses in your community
There’s no question that every single person and business has been affected by the global pandemic. But when brands declare “we’re in this together” and “we’re here to help”, they need to prove it. Are you able to offer a discount to your followers that bought take out and show you a receipt from a local eatery? Can you commit to donating a percentage of your sales for the next month to a local shelter or cause that aligns with your brand?
If you can, do it.
Extending a helping hand is not only the right thing to do for struggling companies, it also helps further prove to your audience that your brand is involved in bettering their community.
4. Take this time as an opportunity to connect to your online community.
Staying connected is more important than ever. Take this time to connect to your audience in a more intimate way than normal.
Beef up your community management strategies. Accentuate the human side of your brand to the public. Provide feel good content even if it only helps out a handful of your followers. Go through your tagged photos and see if any UGC sparks inspiration. Share it, tag them, and continue to build an engaged community.
5. Revisit your strategies OFTEN!
There are new updates daily. So something that was a great communication strategy yesterday may not be today. Make it a point to use social listening to see what people are saying about your brand or industry and respond accordingly.
There’s no specific crisis communications rule book to follow for a global pandemic and we’re all figuring it out as we go. That’s okay! With major lower level funnel campaigns most likely being put on hold, take this time to connect deeply with the followers you already have and build on that brand loyalty.
Words by Akanksha Swami, Social Content Creator at Copacino + Fujikado, a marketing, advertising, and branding agency we adore.