As the reality of #StayHome and #Lockdown loomed large, brands had to think fast to ensure they remained relevant to the coronavirus’ impact on social media. The regular messaging would not work. Anyone who tried to sellor promote—or sounded like an opportunist—received a backlash. Strategies changed overnight, and now, we are living in a new era of social.
Here are the big strategies in social media crisis management that have been appreciated by users:
1. ‘We are there for you’
One of the key stances that brands had to put out on social media during the corona crisis is that they would stick by their customers to resolve issues. Travel continues to be one of the most affected sectors because of COVID-19. As reality dawned that summer (and probably, winter) travel plans would take a hit, customers started cancelling trips.
Some travel brands were prompt to share updates, others took a bit more time. But most eventually stated that they were accepting all cancellations, and that refunds would be processed as per regulations.
This interval was seen as a time to gain trust and loyalty. To show that in times of crisis, customers still came first, and that brands were ready to push their own issues aside to ensure that customer problems had standard procedures to be dealt with.
We also saw many CEOs share hopeful messages via their companies’ social channels (and also on e-mail) about business continuity plans, and what their company strategies would be for the next few months.
2. ‘We are doing our bit to get the word out’
In the initial days of the virus, there was a lot of confusion on what steps to follow and precautions to take. People turned to their social feeds for news, and many brands stepped up to meet this demand and educate their audiences on maintaining hygiene and the best practices to emulate.
Once #SocialDistancing and #StayHome became a reality, brands started doing their bit to ensure these ideas were adequately promoted. A spark of innovationcoursed through several brands, as they recreated social distancing with their logos.
McDonald’s, Zomato and Swiggy all sent out messages that they could offer ‘contactless’ delivery. As a stroke of mischievous inspiration, students from the Miami Ad School created a fake Netflix campaign using outdoor advertising. They innovatively put out spoilers of their favourite shows on signs and billboards,declaring that avoiding them should be a great reason to #StayHome.
3. ‘We can still connect with you innovatively’
Customers and prospects were staying home and working from home. Lots of extra work, some free time, some boredom and kids to handle. Brands decided to chip in with help.
From online quizzes and puzzles,to new recipes and things-to-do lists, to 101 ideas to keep children engaged, to how to spend all this quality time with family—brands have devised ongoing ways to engage with their customers. Several publishing houses and universities even released books and comics across genres to revive the love for reading.
Brands not only shared ideas, but also asked customers to share what they were doing. The inflow of user-generated content (UGC) became an inspiration for many to share their photos and express solidarity.
4. ‘You can learn’
Online learning suddenly emerged as a top activity. Whether it is upskilling courses or hobby classes, education brands are vying for your attention.
You can learn to draw, paint, dance, sing, pick up an instrument, or join a fitness program. You can pick up digital courses and have a completion certificate when you get back to your job. Several of these courses are first being promoted on social channels. The UGC from the courses (completed paintings or fitness videos) then provided additional content to create a viral effect.
5. ‘We can go free/freemium’
When the opportunity comes calling, brands decide to make do with their best offerings. The #StayHome period is being used as a great time to offer free trials and get people hooked to a service.
If you download the Cure.Fit app, you can get free access to several workout videos. Sunday Bricks is offering free daily LEGO lessons under their ‘Stuck at Home’ initiative, pushing children to build racing cars, Humpty Dumpty, and even the Himalayas using LEGO bricks. Many brands are going the freemium way too, by offering a few lessons or demo sessions free of cost. This demonstrates their value before customers are asked for a paid upgrade.
6. ‘Here’s what our brand is doing’
Brands are using LinkedIn to keep their fraternity informed about their efforts to fight the Corona crisis, and to laud their front-line personnel who are risking their own safety to ensure things keep moving. Conglomerates have opened their coffers and hearts to join the fight. Some are on a war footing to make ventilators economical, others have opened meal kitchens or are donating funds and protective equipment to relief efforts. LinkedIn has become the medium of choice to share this information. Careful to avoid chest-thumping,brands are using an empathetic tone to spread news of their efforts and win over viewers.
Depending on where you are in the world and how the situation fares for you, social media communication will evolve to encompass what your customers, and the world in general, is going through.Until you have a plan, here’s some food for thought:
a) How can you re-use your old content in the current context?
b) How can you connect with influencers to create content for you?
c) How do you connect with other brands to explore synergies?
d) What’s your go-to-market plan after the crisis gets over?
Need help charting your roadmap? Connect with us for a free consultation on social media marketing services today.