The new decade has kicked off with a remarkably turbulent start. From COVID-19 to the renewed vigor of the Black Lives Matter movement, brands of all sizes have had to take their social media strategies back to the drawing board. For many brands, this period of history has already proved to be a baptism of fire.
All is not lost, however: Purpose, empathy and awareness are all essential elements of conversations that companies should be having in 2020, and marketers and public relations professionals can reevaluate their planned campaigns, evolving customer needs and overall online strategies accordingly. Here are three main steps in adapting this year’s social strategy to the current context:
1. Assess existing campaigns and content
Most brands have worked hard to map out their 2020 content schedule, so it makes sense to first get a good idea of the starting point before proceeding. No matter what, all teams should be hitting pause on their scheduled content and campaigns: it is essential to carve out breathing room and a space to evaluate before going ahead.
Firstly, brands must reassess any campaigns scheduled to launch in the coming weeks. Teams should be asking: Does this launch make sense in light of current events? Could the campaign be interpreted as insensitive? If so, which elements should be delayed, and which elements should be kept?
It is vital that teams put themselves in the shoes of their audience: how does a sales pitch read at a time like this? Is a campaign joke appropriate for the current climate? What do consumers need at a time like this?
2. Adapt strategies according to audiences
In a turbulent time such as this, social listening is essential in helping teams gauge customer sentiment and identifying audience priorities. Indeed, listening is a powerful tool, and helps communications teams understand the broader conversation around major situations and brewing crisis events.
The evolving COVID-19 crisis has made it a non-negotiable fact that communications teams keep their fingers on the pulse of emerging health and social trends. The national unemployment rate, for example, has reached record highs, and consumers are budgeting accordingly. Brands that fail to adjust to the changed market are unlikely to find a solid footing with consumers mired in a national health crisis.
Moreover, now is a great time for brands to engage in positive online conversations with their followers. Messages about helping others increased by some 1,175% in March, and the tone of online conversations has moved in a staunchly upward direction since. Audiences are looking for real connections online, and brands should be aiming to lift up conversations wherever possible.
3. Balance “business as usual” with sensitivity
Consumers far and wide are dealing with the tension of delayed purchases and a desire to return to normal life. According to recent research, half of all global consumers are affirming of brands that run “normal” advertising. As such, brands should be conscious of reaching out to budget-savvy consumers, without appearing to “cash in” on the current crises. Above all, brands should be concentrating on the human element on marketing during this time.