Header Social Media Covid 19

Social Media Has Become More Important Than Ever

This year we have all been impacted by Coronavirus and it’s spread throughout the world.

It’s impacted the global economy on a huge scale, businesses are going on the whole are being forced to pivot.

And with it, social media strategy has become more important.

Coronavirus Graph

Below are some of the impacts that Coronavirus is having and is expected to have.

Businesses are adapting – and they are adapting fast.

Businesses are now going to become more reliant than ever on their digital strategy.

In many cases it will be the deciding factor in whether they make it through the tough times ahead.

A year ago if someone asked me what causes social media usage to rise, my answer would if been reduced connection.

Here we are a year later, with enforced isolation in place.

Businesses are scrambling to respond.

While some are sticking their head in the sand, others are looking at ways to make a quick buck… And some are getting serious about their communication strategy.

Make no mistake, social media has a more important role than it ever has before.

So what does this mean for us in the business world?

Businesses are going to struggle for a while

Even if the virus slows down fast as the numbers have dropped in China, businesses are going to struggle for well over a year because they will have to make up for their losses.

When companies like Apple shut down their stores to help reduce the spread, it means less income and less profit.

Sure they are able to pay their employees during their temporary shutdown, but not all companies have their bank balance and most won’t be able to do the same.

It’s estimated that in total COVID-19 will cost the global economy $2.7 trillion.

Yes 2.7 trillion…. With a T.

Tourism destinations and their accommodation, entertainment and venues, will obviously be one of the hardest-hit sectors in the current market.

In some industries, like aviation, it’s unfortunately inevitable that some staff may need to be put on unpaid leave and marketing campaigns curtailed.

But for others, where there is still consumer demand, new approaches can be considered.

Does this sound overdramatic?

Maybe it’s because I’m writing about this sector, who are in a battle for survival (their words).

However, all industries can benefit from considering low cost and no cost marketing methods.

Plus there is more emphasis than ever on communicating.

Social media

And communicating well.

So, where’s the attention?

The Pew Research Center in the US reports in 2019 over half of adults turned to social media for their news.

This is where we are going to see who truely is adding value.

You have the best opportunity to do this at a time where all eyes are on news feeds and our communities need us the most.

Another research report I posted about recently shared social media usage already up 76% across the board.

Social media 2020 stats

In Australia that means 18 million people are now spending almost twice the amount of time as they were before on social channels.

Social media my friends, is where the attention is.

Brands must tread carefully though – they can easily mess this up.

Your content has to come from an authentic place, where you’re helping your community, not leveraging people’s vulnerability.

So how do you effectively manage your social media presence during these unprecedented times?

Do not exploit the situation

The first thing we are seeing is people trying to exploit fear.

What I mean by this is supplies are running low around the world. From masks and toilet paper to hand sanitizer and other basic necessities.

People are buying them and then reselling them on eBay or running ads and selling them for 10-50x the price. This isn’t entrepreneurship.

I highly recommend that you avoid exploiting this situation to make a quick buck. Not only is it wrong but it is also very short-sighted.

Nat bibby quote

When you access attention, use it to build trust.

Whether stores are closed or remain open, many brands are encouraging their customers to shop online.

While this is a great way to encourage shoppers to support businesses while practicing social distancing, there are certain messages that you may want to avoid.

For example, while you may want to give customers free shipping, making your discount code “COVID19″.

This isn’t how you want to represent your brand when it comes to conveying sensitive subject matter.

Alternatively, highlight the ways you plan to give back, donate a portion of your proceeds to relief efforts, or help your community.

Keep showing up

If you remember anything I ever say, remember this:

Consistency builds trust on social media.

It is even more important when things aren’t going according to the world’s expectations.

Brands need to be consistent and frequent in their messaging during this time, and take the format, timing and distribution channel of the message into consideration with every engagement. 

Context matters.

You can’t expect to post the same things you were posting before the Coronavirus right now and get the same results. Hmmm… That isn’t not entirely true.

Covid

But people who take into account the context of where the audience is at emotionally will do better.

One of my biggest social media mentors Gary Vee, I feel may have dropped the ball here.

He must be on holiday or something.

Because unless I’ve missed it, he hasn’t touched on what is happening in the world at all in his content, it’s all old re-hashed stuff.

If this is the case, he would of broken trust with many of his loyal subscribers.

I love your work Gary, regardless you won’t have lost this one.

Have some empathy

Empathy not only for the consumer and the people who’s lives have been effected by this global pandemic, but also for the platform and the way people consume content there.

It has gone from important to vital for any chance of success.

And while communications must align with the brand’s mission and vision to ensure authenticity, people seek connection during times of uncertainty. 

Brands that engage with their customers effectively with empathy, are those that will resonate the most during and after a crisis.

The next one goes without saying, or at least should do.

Tell the truth

I am talking about authenticity and transparency here.

In times of uncertainty, open and transparent communication is the key to retaining loyalty and trust.

The unprecedented, almost-total disappearance of all channels related to live events and conferences, and the increasing barriers on face-to-face business, pose an enormous challenge.

At Bibby Consulting Group for example, we have made it clear to our team, partners and clients that we will approach this situation with empathy and urgency

Let’s take another type of business.

Let’s say you’re a retail outlet and you need to close for the time being.

It’s not always an easy decision to close your brick and mortar location. But communicating the decision with your customers shows you’re doing your part to encourage social distancing and shows your brand’s dedication to social responsibility.  

Providing this transparency for your customers has multiple advantages.

First, it ensures customers are up-to-date on the best place to find their favorite products and won’t face any surprises if they do try to visit in person. 

This could cause negative brand sentiment.

Communicating your reasoning for temporary closures also ensures customers know where you stand on important issues.

While the short-term implications are not ideal, the decision also creates a level of trust.

Long-term, your brand will be one of the first places customers think to go the next time they shop, whether online or, eventually, in person.

Here’s a great example from Allbirds

We’re in this together

Social media builds camaraderie.

A change in routine, different work settings, and social distancing have been tough for many.

Try not to talk at your audience with your posts, try and build a feeling of ‘we’.

There is a level of hopefulness in knowing that we can and will continue to communicate with each other with the help of the internet.

Here’s something I posted on LinkedIn as an example:

Click here to see post and people’s comments.

While all businesses are not expected to provide their two cents on the virus, there is nothing wrong with posting or sharing messages on the pandemic’s secondary effects that you do have some expertise on.

It can add a lot of value.

I hate stating the obvious, but you’d be surprised how many execs scratch their head when I say – you can not build trust while being inauthentic.

Communicate

In a crisis, information is only helpful if it’s relevant and accurate.

This may range from crucial business announcements on changes to operations, updates on specific company initiatives dedicated to your customer’s needs.

From a practical, best practice, point of view, you need to let your customers know how COVID is impacting the way you do business.

Things such as…

  • The impact on customers
  • How employees are being protected through social distancing
  • How customer service will be affected
  • The location of changes to service
  • A minimum time the action will be taken for

Others are now building lists of frequently asked questions

Consumers are going to be more willing to resonate and respond, or even share your information as well.

There’s a significant need for ways that everyday people can help during times like these.

Be sure to share your message on all platforms.

Not sure the best way to communicate with your community?

Ask them exactly how they want to hear from you. 

What they want to hear from you.

Nobody has all the answers on how you should be talking to your customers during these unprecedented times.

Additionally, the way in which people will want to hear from you will likely differ.

Some customers may have a less-is-more attitude, while others will want frequent updates and communications.

Ask them and then listen to what they say, this is the key to communicating effectively.

Culture of Change

A key factor in resilience is adaptability.

If it’s standard in your industry to go out and meet new customers face-to-face before you do business, adapting may mean opening new social media channels over web or social media platforms where introductions can be made and relationships fostered.

In the coming months, your prospective clients are going to be less open to the idea of letting you walk through the door and shake their hand.

Noone really has any idea how long this will last and whether this will lead to longer-term change.

Find little ways to delight your customers if it makes sense for your brand.

We offered our clients additional services for the month of April and allowed them to choose between three alternatives.

Here’s a copy of what we sent our clients:

Being confined to your home – rather than on the road on sales visits or at events, means marketers have more time to develop digital strategies.

This means researching where your customers can be found online, and how different approaches and tactics might impact your success.

If your organisation previously put token efforts into digital channels because like a lot of other businesses, you had built your networks offline and that had always seemed to work…

Now is the time to revisit them.

Where is your audience hanging out – if you’re in B2B you should take a serious look at LinkedIn as it could literally save your business.

With attention on the platform up 76% our clients are generating good engagement and strong lead conversion rates.

I can’t stress this enough – it must be done the right way.

Approach your audience with message scripts that are sales focused and not empathetic will ruin your brand quicker than you can say WTF just happened.

It’s worth taking seriously.

The right message, the right audience, executed with integrity will protect your business.

We have not lost one single client and signed 3 up last week. I am not bragging, just making it clear that it can work.

Community Goals

In trying times like the COVID-19 pandemic, we must rally together and acknowledge priorities other than promoting business.

Major companies are backing their workers and fellow small businesses by waiving fees on services, providing employees with sick leave, and offering free meals to those in need.

Here’s an example of how you can inspire others to be kind and compassionate through social media.

Spreading some joy

When it comes to building deep, long-lasting relationships with your customers, even in the best of times but especially in the worst of times, it’s important to show empathy for what your customers may be dealing with personally, professionally, and as a global citizen.

But when so much of the content we’re consuming is heavy and dark, people are also welcoming distractions to get their minds off thinking about the news cycles. 

Summary

It’s certainly true that the coming months will be a challenging time for any company that isn’t ready to think about how they will adapt.

Social media is important. There’s a window of opportunity to build genuine trust with your audience as the provider that cared when nobody else did. We’ll bounce back from this, and when we do, be ready.

If there’s ever been a time to stop thinking about “what’s in it for me” and start thinking “how can I genuinely add value to the people we serve”… It is right now.


Nathanial
Nathanial

Nathanial Bibby is the Founder of LinkedIn marketing agency Bibby Consulting Group, 2x winner at the Social Media Marketing Awards for Best Use of LinkedIn 2019-2020. Nathanial is the creator and host of LinkedIn Heroes, Monday Night Live & The Nathanial Bibby Podcast. The Social Media Marketing Institute ranked him #1 on the Top 20 LinkedIn Experts in the Asia Pacific region.