Importance of Social Media Marketing During COVID-19

The COVID-19 Pandemic has blindsided many businesses and with very good reason. Amidst the chaos and uncertainty, only the nimble and flexible have the greatest hope for survival. There are three approaches that could help businesses respond or pivot in the current COVID-19 climate and social media marketing plays a key role in the successful implementation of all three. 

Now is the time to ramp up social media efforts in the following ways.

1. Launching a new service to respond to the changing environment e.g. online shopping, delivery

With most of the population staying at home it is important, wherever possible, for businesses to adjust their offerings to help their customers engage with their brand and products from home. This means making purchasing online or over the phone, a simple and convenient process and home delivery not only readily available and affordable, but contact-free.

Using paid and organic social media posts can be extremely effective in promoting these new offerings to current and prospective customers. Creating a paid advertising campaign on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram can be highly targeted to reach people within a specific geographical area, from specific age groups and with interests relating directly to your brand. Also, remember to have the Facebook pixel installed in your website so that ads can be retargeted to people who have visited your website. This is the most cost-effective way to advertise on Facebook and Instagram.

Current research has indicated that it is important for brands to craft advertising to focus on how the business can help people cope with the current situation. A survey of 12000 people, the Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report  found that, “84% of respondents said they want brand advertising to focus on how brands help people cope with pandemic-related life challenges.”

One of my key pieces of social media advice (and one I have written an entire chapter on in my upcoming text, Strategic Social Media Management: Theory and Practice) is: Stop Selling and Start Helping. This is the case in the current COVID-19 Pandemic. Avoid the hard sell and focus more on how your products and services can help people through our current situation. Current and prospective customers will respond positively.

2. Using social media to increase engagement and build a strong online brand community while your business is in hibernation

Now is the time to increase your social media activities to help and entertain customers while they are stuck at home. Creating helpful content to show customers how they can get by at home until they can use your products again, is one of the best ways to strengthen customer relations

Depending on your business, helpful content could be recipes coming from a cafe or restaurant, home workouts from a gym, home treatments from a beauty therapist. Of course, it needs to be relevant and appropriate for your business.

Other forms of engaging content could be competitions where customers have to share video of them performing a particular task (e.g. a workout, the results of a recipe etc).

Customers will be grateful that you provided a fun and useful experience for them while they have been stuck at home. In fact,  the Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report   also found that since the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic more than one-third of consumers (82% in China, 60% in India) said that they have started using a new brand because of the innovative or compassionate way that it has responded." Therefore, making the effort to ramp up social media efforts can result in strengthening existing customer relationships and forging new ones.

3. Plan your relaunch ready for when the current COVID-19 restrictions ease

It is challenging to know what is around the corner. However, it is recommended to create a relaunch strategy ready for when the restrictions are finished. The COVID-19 Pandemic has demonstrated that change can occur quickly. Just as promptly as businesses were closed, restrictions may end just as quickly once we’re safely on the other side.

Be ready. Be agile.

Create a marketing communication strategy with a strong focus on social media and have it ready to go as soon as your respective Government gives the green light.

Please stay safe and well.

Dr Karen Sutherland is a social media and public relations educator, researcher and consultant with more than 20 years’ industry experience in marketing, public relations and communication roles. Dr Sutherland is also the author of the forthcoming text: Strategic Social Media Management: Theory and Practice.

Twitter: @kesutherland777
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