Can you guess what the most blocked keyword in the world currently is? Unsurprisingly, it’s coronavirus. COVID-19 is upending life as we know it, making the new normal anything but. Everyone, brands included, is adapting to a world that’s less familiar and comfortable. Already challenging, brand management is now like dancing on a tightrope.
As unlikely as it seems, there’s a unique opportunity underlying the awfulness of today’s pandemic. Now is the time to pause, reevaluate strategies and plans, and react nimbly to the transformed communications landscape.
With social distancing in place around much of the globe, social media’s use is skyrocketing, with 66 percent of users projecting increased time spent on social platforms. With breakneck coronavirus-induced shifts in everyone’s day-to-day reality, forging meaningful connections that have a lasting impact means reimagining strategies and tactics for the time being, if not the long-term. Though that sounds challenging, it is doable. But, how and where do you get started? These recommendations will help you to realign for the current environment.
- Don’t go dark…but don’t be spammy. According to a recent Ogilvy and Mather report, now is not the time to go dark. Social media is a powerful avenue for maintaining contact while social distancing. Customers want comforting, reassuring, and transparent communications explaining how brands are responding to the crisis. Conversely, overwhelming audiences with numerous social media messages can cause fatigue, so be judicious about your social media volumes.
- Address new pain points. COVID-19 is altering how we live, learn, and work. This top-to-bottom reshuffling is creating unprecedented challenges. Addressing these new pain points requires really listening to your audience, pivoting to produce innovative solutions alleviating their problems, then spreading the word (carefully!) via social media. Providing value is key, so make those social media posts count.
- Watch your tone. Be a Ford, not an Adidas. Don’t go dark, but do be vigilant about what you say, and how you say it. Nothing can damage brand equity with audiences like a tone-deaf response to a crisis, as Adidas found out. Right now, it’s not all about you; it’s about them. Stop any pre-scheduled social media posts until you’ve thoroughly evaluated how they’ll be perceived. Communications should match the gravitas of the situation, so be empathetic, sensitive, and uplifting.
- Transparency and consistency matter. When feeling vulnerable, people want reassurance from familiar touchpoints. Your social media messaging should be transparent, concise, and delivered regularly. Be upfront about how your brand is responding to COVID-19, including impacts on customers and employees alike. If you don’t have an answer to a question, it’s okay to say so. Just be clear and consistent in your response.
Now more than ever, brands must establish enduring connections with audiences. With diligence and careful consideration, your social media communications can build bridges that will remain long after the current crisis fades. So, use this opportunity to pause well.
Interprose PR is an official member of the GlobalCom PR Network.