Marketing is among the many areas being profoundly impacted by the pandemic and the impact of coronavirus on social media.
With life upended across the globe, sticking with established engagement approaches on social media and pretending everything is normal can make a brand look out of touch. However, disengaging completely isn’t a good option either; with many people staying at home, the direct access social networks provide for connecting with consumers is more important than ever.
To engage audiences successfully in this challenging time, marketers must walk a fine line by openly acknowledging the coronavirus pandemic on social media while not coming across as crass or tone-deaf.
What does that balance look like? To help find it, here are seven strategies brands have been employing to effectively address coronavirus on social media.
Provide Useful Business-Related Updates
A recent survey found consumers’ top social media activity right now across the globe is searching for news and information related to Covid-19. People deeply want to understand how the pandemic is impacting their lives, and you can help by posting useful business-related updates about things like new hours, service changes, and product inventories to social networks.
These don’t have to be fancy. Providing clear, simple, and practical information—like grocery chain Publix did in this tweet—is enough.
Acknowledge Your Staff and Show Support
Covid-19 is affecting firms’ staffs in many ways, from triggering layoffs and furloughs in some areas to driving increased hours and more hazardous conditions in others. Acknowledging this on social media can give employees a much-needed boost and also help consumers understand how the people who work for your businesses are being impacted by the pandemic.
A simple show of support and thank you is a good starting point, though showcasing the concrete steps you are taking to help employees—as discount retailer Home Bargains did in this Facebook post—is even better.
Encourage Audiences During This Difficult Time
It’s not just businesses and their employees that are struggling right now; consumers are as well. From the day-to-day challenges of isolation to long-term financial worries, many people have a lot on their minds and are struggling to cope.
So, some reassuring words on social media from brands can resonate deeply these days. The messaging doesn’t have to be complex; providing just a little encouragement—as Starbucks did in this tweet—can go a long way.
Tone Down the Snark and Be Nice
One of the great things about social media is that its informal nature gives marketers leeway to be funnier and edgier than they are on other channels. However, in these difficult times snarky humor can fall flat and brands are often better served by simply being nice.
Case in point: Wendy’s—the most famously snarky brand on social media—has shifted its tone in recent weeks and largely focused on just providing audiences with advice and offers (like in this very earnest tweet).
Amplify Public Health Messaging
Something many brands have been grappling with is how to help during this time. One easy and effective approach is to devote some effort on social media to amplifying public health messaging around key areas such as maintaining social distancing and hand washing.
For example, Nike garnered more than 600,000 likes on this Instagram post encouraging people to play inside.
Thank Those Who Are Doing Important Work
Another way to do some good with your social posts is to thank those doing important work during this time. Specifically, audiences appreciate shoutouts to professionals on the front lines of treating Covid-19 as well as those who are keeping essential services going, such as the staffs of grocery stores.
A good example is this YouTube video from Google, which skillfully combines footage from hospitals, search queries, and a heartfelt thank you to healthcare workers.
Make a Commitment to Be Truly Helpful
Finally, audiences are reacting strongly to social media messages that highlight commitments from brands to help combat coronavirus, such as this popular Instagram post from Ferrari pledging 10 million euros to purchase much-needed medical equipment.
Of course, not every brand has the resources to make a donation like that, but if you can showcase a commitment to being truly helpful—perhaps by donating time, products, or services—consumers are likely to respond, and to remember, well past this crisis.
Photo by Simon Maage