Below are the top 3 questions we’re fielding from clients about how to approach social media marketing during the current coronavirus crisis. Our answers include the importance of leveraging social media listening tools to ensure relevancy, the heightened importance of community connection, and a perspective on the future of social media networks.
1. “What type of content should my brand be posting on social media right now?”
Across platforms, traffic and engagement on social media have spiked with Americans turning to social networks as destinations for information, connection with friends and family, and entertaining and comforting content. Rather than go dark on social, brands can respond with content that’s relevant, responsive, and meaningful. Empathy is key. Responding, therefore, requires careful listening. Leveraging social listening platforms, monitoring relevant hashtags, and optimizing platform-specific owned tools (e.g., Pinterest’s business blog, Curated by FB) should guide how you and your social media team respond in such an emotionally charged and volatile environment.
This type of research can also help you uncover novel ways your consumers are using your brand, spotlight unmet needs, and identify potential opportunities to support community efforts.
2. “How should I be thinking of organic vs. paid?”
Now’s the time to consider your business needs while prioritizing goodwill and helpfulness in paid content. For instance, prioritize paid promotion of content that: is focused on community relief efforts, is informative and inspiring, or spotlights strategies for well-being. This type of paid content will resonate with your audience in their current mindset and position the brand as a relevant thought leader. Organic content should aim to nurture, entertain, and communicate with your existing followers.
- Frequency of message: Though frequent posting is typically the norm, consider that consumers are currently navigating a flood of online information; a careful and thoughtful cadence of communication is more important than ever.
- Effectiveness: Monitor cost per result and engagement metrics to ensure that paid ads are resonating with your audience. If CPM skews high or engagement is low, shift to a different piece of content or iterate elements of the campaign.
- Optimization of content: Test multiple messages in paid ads, just as you would with any campaign, to determine the brand expression that best resonates with an audience at this moment.
- Platform selection: If your brand normally activates on Instagram, now may be the time to consider also increasing your presence on a platform like Pinterest where we know consumers are going for inspiration while they remain at home.
3. “How do I engage with my community on social media?”
Community engagement is especially crucial during a crisis. Failing to respond in the midst of such a tumultuous time in your followers’ lives threatens the loyalty that a brand has worked to establish. Assess current social conversations around your brand and category and develop a cohesive messaging and engagement plan based on what is now most important to your followers in real time.
For instance, in the CPG category, out-of-stocks may trigger social mentions asking where products may still be purchased. Plan to be prompt and responsive to consumer needs during this time. And now is not the time to sound like a robot. Tailor responses and communicate with humanity.
Community engagement is especially crucial during a crisis.
- Brand alignment: Use a communications response tree to align your social community management team with on-brand messaging and tone. Revisiting and updating this tool is imperative as followers’ needs are now rapidly evolving.
- Community management tools: With engagement for some brands potentially increasing, these tools can streamline the management of comments, direct messages, and brand mentions into a unified inbox.
- Chatbots: These AI-powered apps can automate frequently asked questions and needs, such as a product locator or product information, thus freeing up your community manager’s inbox to focus on more involved questions and community interactions.
- User-generated content: Currently, many brands are seeing increased levels of user-generated content. Reposting this content provides a human connection with your followers and encourages future engagement.
- Rewards: With many consumers re-prioritizing value, surprise and delight brand loyalists with digital coupons or discounts in recognition of their engagement.
Finally, several of our clients have asked for our perspective regarding what new trends we see emerging from the current social media landscape. We believe the following two trends will continue to grow in importance for brands.
VIDEO CONFERENCING IS THE NEW “SOCIAL PLATFORM”
Climbing from ten million daily users last December to 200 million by recent estimates, the video conferencing platform Zoom has become the new social network seemingly everyone is now using to maintain a more visceral form of human contact when IRL is not an option. Business meetings, parties, graduations, dates, support groups, church services, and many other forms of connection are happening on Zoom with other video conferencing solutions from Google, Facebook, and Microsoft also in hot pursuit of these audiences.
We expect that interactive video will become integral to our social networking experience.
Long after social distancing measures are eased and we resume the new normal, we expect that interactive video will become integral to our social networking experience. We also anticipate more branded efforts such as Chipotle’s new series of daily “Chipotle Together” Zoom gatherings to emerge as these platforms integrate more social features in their user experiences.
VIDEO GAMES ARE ALREADY MASSIVE SOCIAL NETWORKS
According to a recent report from Verizon, game usage has increased seventy-five percent since early March while other sources report that Twitch has seen a ten percent increase in viewership and YouTube Gaming a fifteen percent increase. Though we’ve long encouraged clients to consider the world of gaming in their marketing strategies, we believe the current surge in gaming will help to spotlight the inherently social nature of many gaming communities and experiences.
We expect to see brands across a variety of categories tap into these communities where consumers are connecting as well as forging brand loyalties with companies already creating in-game activations and engaging in the rapidly growing world of esports.