Social media has been an important avenue of connection for years, and COVID-19 has only helped that importance grow. The meaning of social media has changed for both brands and consumers, and social media marketing is experiencing a dramatic shift.
Today, social media platforms are used by more than half of the world. Brands continue to find exciting ways to leverage social networks, but with more people using the internet to meet their needs, shifting algorithms, and the sheer amount of content available, brands have had to devise new and engaging ways to capture the interest of their target audience.
The COVID-19 landscape is a rapidly changing one, and audiences are hungry for the latest information. More importantly, they are deeply interested in how businesses continue to respond to the pandemic. Businesses should be asking themselves the following: What are we doing to keep customers safe? How are we positioned to increase brand awareness while addressing the current challenges? How are we rethinking our social media marketing strategy to stay relevant to customers in times of economic uncertainty? And how will we adapt our digital marketing to serve customers as new information about COVID-19 continues to come out? For marketers, the post-COVID world brings a whole new set of challenges.
Social media strategies can help brands hammer out a game plan to communicate, on all levels, to their existing base, and to grow a new one.
What Is Social Media Strategy?
A social media strategy is a plan of what you hope to achieve using social media. The plan should align with specific business goals and objectives, and those goals should be clear, attainable, measurable, and time-bound. With new information about COVID-19 being presented constantly, time-bound goals are of essence. In order to engage the audience–and keep them engaged–brands have to quickly adapt their strategies and processes to take into account the challenges that COVID-19 presents in the day-to-day and long-term life of its audience.
Engaging Your Social Media Audience
The COVID-19 pandemic is an ever-changing landscape. Its global impact is unprecedented in our time, and it has completely changed the way we live our lives.
Because of COVID-19, brands have had to find ways to stay relevant while respecting the gravity of the pandemic. The purpose should be public health, but how to focus on that without losing brand integrity? Here are a few ways.
1. Connect with your audience
Your customers are individuals. By seeing their individuality, you open avenues of communication that can give insight on how to better serve them.
Reach out to individuals who are engaging with your brand on social media channels. Use their names. Offer the services and products they’re looking for, and use content marketing to drive meaningful engagement. Because COVID-19 has taken away from your customers, they need reassurance that their favorite brands aren’t going away. They also need to know that those brands understand and share their feelings. This is your chance to step in and give that assurance. However, it’s important that you remain respectful and sincere. The last thing you want is to drive your customers away because they sense you aren’t being genuine.
2. Meet your audience where they are
This is an uncertain time, with a lot of fear and unknowns. People are losing work, loved ones, and health. Their usual avenues of socializing and entertainment are gone. People are being more cautious with their spending or choosing to spend in different ways. These are opportunities for your brand to connect with your audience in new, innovative ways. Don't be limited by a template-based approach. Experiment with new types of content (infographics, Facebook ads, influencer marketing, etc.). Show your audience that you acknowledge their concerns and fears about this uncertain time, and tell them what you’re specifically doing to help assuage those concerns.
3. Diversify the brand message
Introduce ways to connect with your audience beyond the services and products you can offer them. For example, Steak-Umm, rather than focusing only on sandwich meats on their Twitter account, they now post-life lessons and motivational content, as well as information pertaining to current events involving the pandemic. They, also while signing off their social updates with “Steak-Umm Bless.”
This piques follower interest, encouraging them to retweet and share, which in turn grows audience and engagement.
4. Diversify how you communicate the brand message
In 2019, a fast food restaurant got into a Twitter “beef” with other restaurants over who served the best chicken sandwich. Consumers flocked to the restaurants to see if the hype was real - a viral sensation that hit all the right notes.
Watching brands “duke” it out over social media is amusing, unexpected, and fun. But more importantly, it gets eyes on the accounts and therefore, the products and services. Entertaining or humorous content adds diversity to a corporate brand’s social feeds without compromising brand integrity, if handled properly.
This is still true in 2020. The pandemic and the accompanying recession have filled our social feeds with decidedly “unfunny” messages. Tasteful humor provides your followers with comic relief and can enhance brand loyalty.
5. Keep an eye on the competition
What strategies are working for them? How are audiences responding? Is there significant growth? From there, determine how you can customize and leverage those strategies to work for your brand.
Be careful that you don’t allow your competitors’ social media content to influence you into posting messages that are inauthentic for your brand or alienating to your audience. Customers need an escape from “doom scrolling,” and they’re seeking that escape more than ever during the COVID pandemic. This is your chance to provide them with something new to engage with and to provide a real connection to your brand.
What is the COVID impact?
An effective brand is always ready to adapt to changes in consumer taste and audience needs, but the first step in your social medial strategy should be to accept that due to COVID-19, your relationship with your audience will never be the same. But if you connect with them the right way, your relationship can be better than ever.
Accepting that their relationships with their consumers have changed can be the first step for brands to easily come up with new strategies to leverage social media during this time of COVID-19.
About TA Digital
TA Digital is the only global boutique agency that delivers the “best of both worlds” to clients seeking to achieve organizational success through digital transformation. Unlike smaller, regional agencies that lack the ability to scale or large organizations that succumb to a quantity-over-quality approach, we offer resource diversity while also providing meticulous attention to the details that enable strategic success.
Over the past 20 years, TA Digital has positioned clients to achieve digital maturity by focusing on data, customer-centricity and exponential return on investment; by melding exceptional user experience and data-driven methodologies with artificial intelligence and machine learning, we enable digital transformations that intelligently build upon the strategies we set into motion. We are known as a global leader that assists marketing and technology executives in understanding the digital ecosystem while identifying cultural and operational gaps within their business – ultimately ushering organizations toward a more mature model and profitable digital landscape.
Recognized in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2019 Inc. 5000 list as one of the most successful technology companies in the United States, TA Digital is pleased also to share high-level strategic partnerships with world class digital experience platform companies like Adobe, SAP and Salesforce and possess global partnerships with industry leaders such as Sitecore, Episerver, Elastic Path, BigCommerce, AWS, Azure and Coveo.