The pandemic has thrown a massive wrench into “normal life.” From schools closing, to many people working from home, millions around the world have adapted to the current social distancing patterns. Small business owners and major corporations have had to rapidly pivot their strategies, change their content schedules, and develop new, innovative concepts in order to sell their goods and/or services.
Staying connected is more important than ever. Sarah Fischer, a media reporter at Axios, said: “The coronavirus pandemic is deepening users' immersion in social media at a moment when society had just begun to question it.”
So, what exactly does content marketing look like in a pandemic? Honestly, the real question everyone is asking is, “How do I speak human?”
We all understand that what we say matters. It’s important to avoid coming across as tone-deaf to a public with already elevated anxiety and sensitivities. But businesses can’t afford to avoid sales or stop promoting, and yes, this involves continuing to share on social media.
So, how can you build an effective marketing plan for content that helps deepen your relationship with your audience at a time when everyone is online?
Here are four guiding principles that will help you think through your social media posts. We’ve included examples of brands/businesses that are using these tried and true tactics during the pandemic.
1: BE EMPATHIC
Remember: You don't know what each member of your audience is going through when they receive your email or see your post on Facebook or Instagram. The pandemic is affecting everyone in different ways.
Be mindful that your audience might be dealing with job losses or worried that their company will be shut down. They may have a sick family member, or they may just be suffering from general anxiety. This should be at the forefront of your mind when you’re crafting your posts and messaging.
Shoe retailer Allbirds has made it easier for customers to give a bit of relief to overworked healthcare professionals by providing a few donation options.
This is a great way to sell effectively while still connecting to the pain point during this pandemic.
2. DETERMINE YOUR BRAND VOICE
Brand voice refers to the personality and emotion infused into a company’s communications.
Try not to mention Covid-19 in every single article or post, but do consider the voice and tone of your captions, as well as how people in different environments might interpret it.
Do you want to come across as inspirational? You should probably share quotes and videos that raise people’s spirits and remind us that “this too will pass” and “we'll get through this together.”
Nike’s Instagram Team did a great job of this by posting an inspirational message encouraging people to play indoors. This message had garnered 695k likes as of this writing.
Maybe your brand has a more serious voice. If so, show people how you have their back and how they can rely on you in difficult times.
On their Instagram page, Chillhouse, a destination for modern self-care, reminded their followers to pay attention to their mental health.
Is your brand more lighthearted? Then share memes and GIFs that get a laugh. After all, we all need a laugh these days.
Warby Parker does this in a creative but tasteful way by poking fun at a common pain point (wearing glasses with a mask).
3. DELIGHT YOUR AUDIENCE
Now is not the time to run away and hide. Look for ways to thoughtfully engage with your audience. One clever way brands have pivoted is by using something called “quaran-tunes” (songs to play in quarantine). Think of a Spotify playlist featuring familiar songs that offer a lighthearted take on the current state of affairs. For example, “School’s Out for the Summer” took on an entirely different meaning earlier this spring.
RCR is a professional music production and recording studio located in Brooklyn, NY. They’re bringing joy to their audience by sharing their “pandemic playlist.”
4. PROVIDE GREAT VALUE
Make your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram a valuable tool for your audience. Instead of focusing on selling right away, concentrate on interaction first by offering extra information through videos, carousel posts, or captions.
Think about creative ways to assist your audience. Become the solution to the problem they’re facing and figure out products, resources, or support they might need.
And don’t forget: your selling strategy should emphasize your tone of voice and empathy.
Looking for more info about how to use social media during the pandemic? Here are a few more excellent tools to check out:
Your campaign assets might include the following:
- Crisis Communication Tips from Twitter
- Jenna Kutcher’s Small Business Survival Guide, a free PDF
- Coronavirus Support Guide from Marie Forleo
- Tips for Sharing on LinkedIn During Covid-19 from LinkedIn
- Conversation Marketing, a book from Kevin Lund