Social Media Marketing During COVID-19

Social Media Marketing During COVID-19: March 30 Update

Please see prior posts:

  • Social Media Marketing in the Midst of COVID-19 (Mar 16); and
  • Social Media Marketing During COVID-19: March 23 Update

One week further along into our new normal and COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to climb in the United States. Federal distancing guidelines were extended until at least the end of April, meaning we’re going to be in the midst of this for a while longer.

The general trends are unchanged:

  • People are using social media more;
  • People are running fewer paid ads on social;
  • Therefore, the efficiency of paid ads on social has improved for brands still running ads.

Today, I thought I’d share the common themes that emerged during our Live Q&A held on Thursday, March 26 as they reflect what brands are worrying about right now:

Should We Be Running Paid Social Media Ads Right Now?

Like most things in social media, the answer is, “It depends.” If your brand either has messaging that is relevant to COVID-19 and is genuinely helpful or interesting, or if your brand is completely unrelated, such as online sales of clothing, this may be an excellent time to drive sales. After all, we’re seeing cost per landing page view being cut in half for some of our clients.

If, however, you are a retailer for whom ads would encourage people to come to your stores, this would not be a great time to run paid ads for that. You could expect a swift backlash. We suggest having a small team of 3-5 people review your paid ads to see if they will resonate in today’s environment.

Should We Continue Our Organic Content Strategy Right Now?

With the same caveats noted above under the paid strategy question, the answer is yes. Right now, people are scrolling more and engaging more. Our clients are seeing increases in engagements across a wide variety of industries, with particularly high movement (over 800%) for key sectors such as retail and utilities.

Is It Smart to Have Giveaways, Discounts, etc. on Social Media Right?

I would be much more conservative around giveaways than I would around discounts. If the giveaway is perceived as being done to benefit you (collect 10,000 email addresses to give away one modest prize), there will likely be backlash. On the other hand, truly benevolent giveaways (Crocs is giving away 10,000 pairs of shoes per day to health care workers, including free shipping) will go over well. But if some brands are helping people and your brand is doing something to simply benefit yourself, it likely won’t look good.

Discounts are fine, particularly for smaller businesses. Some small businesses have sent emails saying they are trying to get through this crisis as well and they have rung as true. I’ve even bought some of these offers. As always, the tone needs to be right.

Should I Partner with Influencers Right Now?

Carusele is the influencer marketing agency created by Ignite, so check over there for more info. However, if the influencers can safely perform their work from home and the product can be safely purchased and used in this environment, then yes. But content should be adapted to acknowledge the situation. We had one client for whom we took images that were done pre-virus, changed the copy to acknowledge the virus and posted. The conversion rate actually increased to higher than ever.

The product has to match appropriate messaging right now, of course.

How Should We Respond to Sensitive Comments on Social Media?

This, of course, will vary greatly by the type of business, the volume of comments and more. For some clients we work with, there was no reasonable way for a human to respond to every comment. For others, we respond to every comment.

As a general guideline, be as human as you can in your response. We’re literally all in this together. If you feel you’re doing the right thing, explain it. Having said that, some people are not going to be reasonable if they are scared that a loved one is at risk of getting sick. It’s not the time to debate them or change their mind. A comment to the effect of, “Here’s what we’ve already done to ensure safety and we’ll continue to improve on that every day” may be enough.

In extreme cases and on certain platforms like Facebook, you can also hide a comment so that the commenter and their friends will still see it when they look, but the general public will not. This is not a best practice to use widely, but it can be helpful in certain cases.

How Do We Balance Between Using COVID-19 as a Marketing Opportunity and Being Empathetic?

In my experiences, businesses that are benefitting from the virus (such as grocers, technology companies like Zoom and others) are not benefitting because of their marketing. They are benefitting because people need what they sell more than they used to. In general, I would stay away from using the virus as a marketing opportunity unless you run a funny t-shirt company. For a brand like that, feel free to produce all the quarantine and Tiger King meme t-shirts you’d like. For most of us, however, using this crisis overtly as a marketing opportunity would be a mistake.

Don’t be Frozen by This

You’ll notice that I’m suggesting caution in virtually every answer. That’s because this situation is such that your audience will universally be looking through that lens when they see your content. At the same time, I’m not suggesting that brands go dark across the board on organic and/or paid social. In the right situation, both organic and paid will see better results than they did in prior months. Brands should by all means consider this. Done thoughtfully, social media is a real opportunity right now.

We’ll be back with another update as things change.

If you have additional questions for our team during this time, please feel free to reach out using the form below:

Ignite Social Media