As we all know, the coronavirus (COVID-19) has had a major impact on industries and institutions around the world ranging from schools to public offices due to the need to practise social distancing. While our need for separation in these critical times is undisputable, the innate need for us as humans to connect with each other is another side of the coin.
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Businesses thrive on connectivity. This is why the concept of connection is taking on new meaning and the role of social media is becoming more critical as social distancing makes us increasingly isolated.
Social media has indeed been at the forefront of conversations around our current global crisis. But where can brands come in to stimulate such conversations and facilitate connection? How can companies navigate a crisis that threatens the existence of their brands by creating connection through relevance?
Determine the tone of the conversation
During a crisis, the best brands can do is monitor their audience and media as a whole to understand what topics, crisis updates, and discussions are causing panic among their community. This will help them ascertain if there is a need to adjust their marketing strategies to suit the current developments. Though it can be difficult to postpone or even put a halt on a project you’ve been working on, it is important to note that you risk coming off as an insensitive brand if you carry on like its business as usual.
In a nutshell, ensure your content is relevant and appropriate. You can do this by using social listening tools to track conversations on social media and provide deeper insights into discussions surrounding your brand, industry and the crisis. Remember, you don’t want your brand to come off as an opportunistic one trying to take advantage of the crisis for the sake of visibility or marketing and, on the other hand, you don’t want to appear tone-deaf. What you want is to monitor the tone of the conversation, apply the insights learned to your marketing approach, and become a valuable contributor.
Determine the role your brand can play
Understandably, in the time of a global crisis, some brands will be more relevant than others. While it’s not exactly clear how events will unfold in the wake of the pandemic, it is important to stay focused on the brand identity you’ve worked so hard to build.
The first thing you need to do after you’ve accessed the tone of the current conversation is to determine the role you can play and, most importantly, determine if your content will be relevant to your audience at this time. Can you provide health tips on staying safe during the pandemic, “how-tos” on productive working from home, or tips for businesses looking to succeed in times such as this? At any rate, find out if there is any way you can provide value during this time.
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Don’t fall into the trap of being promotional
Since customers are taking necessary measures to isolate themselves and their families, the business landscape will change significantly. At this point, it might be tempting to create promotional marketing campaigns to stimulate economic growth. However, audiences are good at spotting opportunistic brands from miles away and they won’t hesitate to call you out. If you don’t tread carefully with the kind of content you post about the global crisis, you may end up putting your business in jeopardy.
Ensure you identify the role your brand can play with regard to the crisis and if you can’t identify any, it might be best to publish a message showing that you empathize with your audience. This may help reduce panic among your audience and signal to them that you’re in tune with the current situation. In case you’re not sure of how to respond, then it’s better to be quiet. This will prevent you from damaging the reputation of your brand.
In as much as it is important to educate, spread awareness, and sensitize your audience on how to keep safe during the crisis, a pandemic is not a time to market to the fear and anxiety people are experiencing. Brands shouldn’t capitalise on global crises to embark on exploitative marketing of their products. Instead, practice empathy and use it to create content that is authentic and relevant. This will make your customers trust you more and keep them loyal to your brand.
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