As if getting your brand’s social media strategy right wasn’t already a challenge, navigating your messaging now – amid a global health crisis – can feel borderline hopeless. You may be tempted to just not do anything at all, but going dark on your channels does not set your business up for social success for when this time passes, and it definitely won’t provide the assurance your audience may need from you right now. Conversely, continuing your organic and paid social campaigns as usual without acknowledging the current situation won’t likely be well-received, either.
With no roadmap to follow, the best approach your business can take to navigate your social media presence is to use each platform in the ways they were originally intended. Connecting in real-time. Engaging authentically. Posting organically. It may sound easy, but in actuality, it takes more time, effort, and creativity to engage within these social spheres on a regular basis than any other tactic commonly used. That’s why we’ve provided some concrete tips, to-dos, and marketing measures any business or brand can take to assure their social media messaging remains meaningful and mindful during this period of fear and uncertainty.
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Pause & Proceed with Caution
With protocols and cultural sentiment changing and evolving so rapidly, it is crucial to evaluate any scheduled content you have and adjust as necessary. We’d suggest pausing all paid and organic posts scheduled past the current week and re-evaluate each on a week-to-week basis. Think about it this way: Last week, a post about going out to eat was fine. This week? Not so much. It only takes one “set it and forget it” Instagram post promoting a dinner date night this weekend to come off as insensitive or out of touch.
Take a step back from your usual strategies and practice social listening. It’s as easy as setting aside 15 minutes each day to scroll through your Instagram feed to explore what different brands and businesses are posting, how the content has shifted (topic, tone, context), and if it seems to be effective or not. A quick scroll through the comments section on any given post will usually indicate the post’s success level based on the audience response. Now, just through social listening, you have discovered which post types to avoid, what content is resonating with the audience, and how your brand can positively contribute. It’s also crucial to practice social listening by engaging within your own posts. Take the time to read and reply to comments and messages with empathy.
Pro Tip: Take a look at what, where, and when your competitors are posting on different platforms to better understand how your messaging will be received.
Pivot & Post with Purpose
So if you don’t go dark but you can’t post as usual, what do you post as a brand? First, it’s okay to not outwardly address the current global pandemic if it doesn’t make sense to. It’s also okay to scale back the frequency with which you post. There is an endless stream of news filling each social space right now and it can feel inescapable. Maybe your brand’s place in social media is instead providing some relief. Understand the unique role your brand plays in people’s lives, how that has (or hasn’t) changed, and how your brand can help or be useful during this crisis. A floral shop may post daily bright, vibrant bouquets to brighten your day. A day spa could provide DIY face mask treatments to try at home. A coffee shop may post about the free java station they set up outside the nearby hospital to show their locals love. The list goes on. Your core purpose just needs to pivot. Don’t overthink it.
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Pro Tip: Consider asking your audience what they want to see from you, making it a two-way conversation. You can also ask your audience for ways your company could provide support and get involved right now – it could be using your social platform to spread the word about a local charity or donating what you can to surrounding communities. This demonstrates not only that your brand is aware of the complexity of the issue, but that you are supportive and sensitive to what consumers are going through.
In a seemingly simple post, BarkBox addresses the current situation, provides relevant comedic relief, and encourages audience engagement.
Nail Down Your New Normal…Then Build on Brighter Days Ahead
With so much still unraveling and many unknowns ahead, it’s vital to figure out what your company’s new normal looks like and operate accordingly. Update any change to business hours or contact information ASAP on Google My Business and all social profiles. Use technology to your advantage and explore the variety of virtual experiences millions are using to stay connected. From simply offering video chat with customers to e-hosting a company cocktail hour with remote raffle prizes, the ways to connect are truly limitless, and a little creativity can go a long way.
Providing virtual experiences in alignment with your brand can spark hope and trust today and inspire action at the right time.
That goes for your product offerings as well. During this uncertain time period, identify your product-market fit and see if repositioning products at a special discount could make sense. Many people are at home browsing, looking for discounts to save money during a time of unrest. It’s a great way to engage with your customers and keep a steady stream of revenue that will keep your doors open. You can push out your special offers through pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and social media. For instance, hotels could offer a future travel package where you buy three nights now, at a reduced rate, to use at any time (that capacity allows) in the future. It’s a trip that’s ready when you are. Perhaps spas can offer a free 15-minute video consult during this downtime, paired with a $25 gift card to be used toward the customer’s next treatment.
Yes, these are challenging times for everyone. But your business can still flourish if you’re willing to try some new approaches, reposition your products or messaging, and above all, continue to connect with compassion and empathy. Now is the time to connect with your customers like never before – not separate from them.
- How to Keep Your Venue Afloat Amid the COVID-19 Crisis
- 3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Pause Your Marketing During a Crisis
- How a Hotel Can Pivot Its Marketing to Provide Much-Needed Moments of Escapism
From all of us at Hawthorn Creative, we wish you good health and a positive mindset throughout this challenging time. As always, we’re here to help with anything you or your team may need. If you have any questions about this article or want to talk about how we can help prepare you for success the moment your doors open again, please reach out to us online.