‘To advertise or not to advertise’ – is a question all businesses (big, small or medium) are pondering these days. What’s the right marketing strategy during a pandemic? There is no roadmap or guidebook to refer to, so we all have to find out our own right or wrong path in these unique times.
But through the chaos, some strategies are emerging. Here are our social media marketing tips for stressed-out marketers during the coronavirus pandemic:
- Revisit your existing strategy and tweak it
The first place to start with is your current digital marketing strategy. We are sure you must already have a quarterly plan, now its time to analyse it through the lens of COVID-19 and make adjustments to achieve your long-term goals. 62% of marketers report changing their marketing strategies since mid-march due to COVID19 compared to a much smaller 18% just two weeks ago.
Unless your business demands it, stick to your existing content calendar and posting schedule for the time being and slowly make changes as your content and strategy evolve. If your product/service can be transferred online (such as fitness, knowledge, or financial services) and is useful for clients during the pandemic, then you can, of course, promote it more heavily.
- Don’t ignore the elephant in the room
No matter what you do, don’t go ahead with a business-as-usual approach. You can’t ignore the pandemic, so don’t even try it. It’s best to come up with a plan on how to address it from the point of view of your business or industry.
It’s clear that the ONLY strategy in these extraordinary times is to adopt a community-driven approach. If your business is related to something that can sell during these times (such as medical masks, groceries, or online learning), then you can delicately take a sales-driven approach; otherwise, just work on brand building.
- Brand tone and voice
We recommend you stick to your existing brand voice. After all, it has been established over time, and as long as your message is in tune with the crisis, you can present it in a way that is familiar to and in alignment with your target audience.
- Be good. Do good
Work on being useful. While your exact approach depends on your particular industry, we would urge you to think from the point of view of your current TG and come up with some innovative ways to keep them engaged.
The need of the hour is to be helpful. This can mean different things for different businesses. A recent report showed that the US marketers think health & pharmaceutical advertisements to be most appropriate during this time, while, unsurprisingly, travel-related content is a big No-No.
But on social media, you can change the game!
For example, if you are a travel company, then obviously you can’t advertise upcoming trips, but maybe doing throwback travel pictures could remind your clients of the good times and keep them feeling positive. Even something like inviting people to participate in virtual travelling games or travel quizzes could be fun without being insensitive. An IT company that deals in the B2B space could offer complementary services to existing clients or conduct webinars on critical services that can help during the crisis.
So, whether you help in kind or in spirit, the key is to drop obvious marketing ideas and concentrate on being supportive of your community and your clients.
Before you jump feet first into a social media strategy, we recommend you spend some time and effort on social listening. You don’t have to be the first to put out a post, it is more important to put out the RIGHT post.
Look at your industry peers and other companies to see how they are reacting to the situation. Also, go through the feeds of your customers to research their concerns and challenges. Where possible, it is useful to just pick up the phone and get an idea of what clients and customers are struggling with or looking for help with. With knowledge, you would be able to take the correct approach.
We are sure you must also be thinking of slashing your marketing budgets. After all, business is slow, and many other things take precedence. This is a decision that depends on your brand and industry, if you feel you can manage to put in some money into your social media or digital marketing then we recommend you do so with the express purpose of brand building (in case, your products can’t be sold during these times).
People crave a connection in these times, and almost everyone is stuck at home and spending inordinate amounts of time online. You have a captive audience; there has never been a better time to engage with them! This could be just the right time to build long-term relationships that can be profitable a few months down the line. All you need is the right social media campaign.
Now, we finally address WHAT you should post! There are many ways to handle this, and the starting point of the decision comes from your industry, location, and product/service.
You could inform your followers regarding how your business is handling the work during the pandemic; what steps you are taking to keep your operations, clients and employees safe; your plans for the coming few months; changes in operational procedures, store timings, etc. or any new pandemic related offers, services/products that you are putting out. It is also an excellent way to promote any relief work you are taking part in or donating to. Whatever you do post, make sure it is sincere and authentic.
For example, a B2B manufacturing concern could highlight corporate welfare measures and focus on helping employees and their families through this time. A fashion outlet could donate money or effort by sewing masks, or they could do a tutorial series on sewing clothes at home or undertake a dress-up-at-home selfie contest.
There are many ways to approach your clients – you have to take into account the seriousness of the situation in your area and the perceived mindset of your TG.
Coronavirus humour is trending on many social feeds, and it can be tempting to take this route for more likes and followers. But is it the right approach for a business? Unless your brand is synonymous with fun stuff, we recommend you leave the comedy to individuals. Where a person would get a few laughs, a brand might face a backlash for insensitivity.
If you do want to provide a few light moments to your community, then a mashup of viral hits or memes from the wider community could serve the purpose.
The Bottom Line
People are buying less, and they will probably do so for some time to come. You will just have to wait for business to bounce back, but in the meantime, focus on building trust and giving value to your audience. They might remember you when things brighten up, and this could very well lead to profitability down the lane.
Extraordinary times call for unusual marketing ideas – we think unmarketing is the correct strategy for a pandemic. What do you think? Do write in and tell us your ideas and experiences – your contribution to the discussion will undoubtedly enrich the whole marketing community.