Marketing in the age of coronavirus can feel like shouting into the ether. It’s an unprecedented time for many folks (and their business models) to say the least. Fear, stress, and uncertainty is a universal tax on all of us.
And yet, there is still work to do. So, as marketers and professionals, how do we adjust?
There are three main challenges you’re probably facing right now as a marketer — or will face soon.
- Business: For airlines, fewer people are flying. For retail, fewer people are shopping.
- Messaging: Consumer attention is focused on the coronavirus, not your brand.
- Mental Health: As one colleague told me earlier today, “I’m just drained.”
Here is a list of recommendations on how you and your social media team can adjust. Thanks to those who added their insights below.
You might have the least control here. That’s ok. Focus on what you can do and get creative.
1. Keep Calm, Have a Plan
“[Most] business will not grind to a halt from this”, said Scott Monty, Executive Advisor. “If that’s the case, communicate your plan and what alternatives that leaves their customers.”
More crisis communication principles from Scott.
2. Focus on Brand
Many social ad folks are seeing a decline in performance metrics this week. Consumers are still spending time on social (maybe even more), but they’re just not buying as much stuff. Outside of groceries and Purell.
You may need to pull back on some of your ad spend right now. Especially ads focused on performance/conversion. Consider putting resources into marketing that increases your brand affinity and keeps you top of mind over the next few months.
3. Pivot Your Product
One colleague is seeing a 70% slump in sales for their retail clients in Malaysia. In response, they’re working to bring more of the in-store experience online to drive ecomm sales. They are also studying how Chinese companies adopted to these same challenges.
“Look for ways to deploy your services that make up for face-to-face experiences being lost at present,” said Chris Brogan, founder of the StoryLeader system.
What can you do to make your product easier to use in this unique time? Research what your industry peers might be testing in China, South Korea, or Italy.
First of all, reassess all the content and campaigns you have going out. All the way down to your customer service response and daily low-lift social media content.
4. Pick a Lane
Imagine the worst coronavirus news is sitting right next to your post on Twitter or Facebook. Does your messaging sound awkward? Tone-deaf?
“Some brands are going to be fine with business as usual, some should keep quiet, some should go into PSA mode,” said Nathan Allebach, Social Media Manager at Allebach Communications.
“A good social content action right now could be brainstorming creative PSA posts.”
5. Scale Back and Keep a List
Adjusting the volume and type of social media content you post is probably a good instinct right now. Give some additional care to the empathy and tone of your social content.
Since there is less attention to go around, don’t be afraid to post less content. But don’t stop coming up with ideas. Keep a running list of those ideas for when things get back to normal.
6. Invest In Trust Content
Consider investing in long-form projects and campaigns.
Trust Content is content that allows you to spend more time and more meaningful moments with your audience. It’s great for building trust in your brand. Which is a good place to spend time right now. Consider creating long-form articles, video series, podcasts, essays, entertainment, training content, and more.
7. Adjust Your Social Listening
While social media time-spent is likely going up around the globe, the way consumers spend that time and the types of conversations they have are different during a crisis. How are your customers, employees, and community talking about the crisis?
Zontee Hou, founder of the agency Media Volery, recommends a review of this for all in-house teams. “Start monitoring conversations if you have not already, especially if you’re in an industry that’s highly affected. And be ready to activate your internal spokespeople if your brand needs to communicate important messages.”
Social media managers are already in a stressful role, and a prolonged crisis does not help. Remember to check in on yourself, your team, and industry friends.
And the fact that so many folks are suddenly working from home adds even more of a challenge. To keep things manageable, consider these recommendations for keeping a positive outlook.
8. WFH Plan
Make sure you have the tools and processes needed to work from home (here’s a good tool list from Sarah Evans).
9. Get Offline
Remember to reach out to friends. Make a phone call (yes, those still work). Use FaceTime. Start a group chat. Ask for help when you need it.
11. Review Your Media Consumption
Set boundaries on your personal social media time and news binging. The coronavirus news is unending. Your consumption of it should not be.
You got this.
If you want any additional strategic support, please let me know. We’ve opened up additional consulting time this month and I’m available to help you work through any challenges you might be having.