The coronavirus pandemic has hit businesses hard. Most retail shops are closed, supply chains and deliveries are disrupted, and consumer spending is down. This all adds up to a tricky and complex marketing landscape to navigate. But despite all the challenges, organisations are showing remarkable flexibility, creativity and empathy in how they are marketing to consumers during this difficult time.
For example, The Sole Supplier recently launched a reactive social media campaign which resulted in 710,000 impressions and 7,276 captures in its first week alone. We asked The Sole Supplier's Dan Timcke about how businesses can leverage the power of social media to build their brands during lockdown. Here are his insights:
According to Virgin Media, daytime internet use in the UK has more than doubled since the lockdown began. With all of us spending more time online with little offline distraction, there is a huge opportunity for fast-moving brands to capture the attention of the public with engaging and relevant social media campaigns. As brands switch their focus away from physical retail to e-commerce, social media is playing an increasingly important role in the sales process.
However, standard sales and marketing techniques won’t cut it in today’s climate. If you have scheduled social media posts as part of a marketing calendar, clear it and start again. The news flow now is unpredictable, so avoid scheduling posts too far in advance because you may go out with something which isn’t relevant or could be taken as insensitive.
Instead, try switching to a weekly or day-by-day social plan. It may be something you haven’t done before, but posting in real-time can give you the flexibility to respond to trending topics. It’s time to focus on brand-building campaigns rather than short-term sales tactics. Ask yourself the following:
- What advertising message is appropriate?
- What are your customers likely to be feeling?
- How do you want your brand to be perceived post-outbreak?
As well as posting entertaining, inspirational and product-focused content, social media is the perfect platform to share how your organisation is adjusting to the challenges thrown at it by Covid-19 and how you’re prioritising the safety of your employees and customers. Transparency and honesty have never been so important.
2. Collaborative content
The public has more time than ever to engage with content online. This is a blessing for social-savvy brands. Try to reach out to employees, customers, influencers, partners and brand ambassadors to create engaging content from afar.
Live video Q&As, webinars, virtual events, a day in the life of posts, competitions and challenges can go a long way to fill your social media schedule with engaging, quirky and fun content that’s also compliant with social distancing rules.
3. Keep an eye on the details
For any content that you’ve created previously and want to push out in the coming months, make sure to check the fine details before scheduling.
For example, make sure the product featured is still available and if people photographed are breaking the current social distancing rules, even if it was shot before the rules came into force.
You can also boost engagement with your posts and show you’re promoting responsible behaviour among your community by including popular hashtags like #stayhome, #safehands and #flattenthecurve.
If you had planned to launch a seasonal campaign, particularly promoting socialising or travelling, you’ll need to make an executive decision whether this will create negative PR for your brand. Instead of scrapping the idea completely, you could brainstorm alternatives which are more relevant to the stay at home theme without losing the key messaging.
4. Take the opportunity to help people
If your brand is supporting any charitable campaigns, offering discounts for key workers, or has diversified its offering in light of Covid-19, like switching up what it manufacturers or sells to support people in need, then you must communicate this across your social channels.
Think about how you can create different types of content around this theme too. So, after communicating what your business is doing to help, follow up with first-hand accounts of people you have helped, new partnerships you have forged with other organisations and milestones achieved such as fundraising goals.
While it may not convert into much-needed sales income right now, your brand will be remembered fondly when people start spending again.
Covid-19 will have forced many companies into experimenting with social media marketing for the first time, while others will have taken it to new levels and seen great results. One of the biggest lessons we will learn is that firms who are able to market, communicate and trade online will have a greater chance of survival.
So, while virtual communication will never replace physical human-to-human interaction, one thing’s for sure; social media marketing is the future, and those learning from successes and failures today will benefit most.
About the Author
Dan Timcke is the Chief Marketing Officer at The Sole Supplier, Europe's leading online destination for casual footwear. The business recently created an Instagram filter using AR technology as a reactive social media campaign. In its first week alone, the campaign had 710,000 impressions and 7,276 captures.
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