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How COVID-19 impacts your brand on social media

by Sarah McManus - April, 2020

At times like these, many are wondering how COVID-19 impacts your brand on social media.

It is tempting in such uncertain times for brands to do nothing, to say nothing & be silent. But in anxious times brands have a huge role in helping support consumers and communities through this coronavirus pandemic. If brands don’t show up in the tough times, consumers won’t show up for these brands in the future.

The world has changed forever, there is no going back, and brands can’t just turn back on campaigns & comms when this blows over. Everything has changed. So now isn’t the time to be silent. Consumers as humans want to hear from you. They want reassurances, they want support and they want to know you are here for them.

“As fear for the future continues to grow, consumers will look to businesses & brands propositions to make them feel secure, & they will take a more meaningful perspective on consumption.” Global Webindex

Communication is key in anxious times. Silence just makes things worse.

Brands need to:

Talk to consumers.

Don’t shy away, tell them what you are doing, why their order is late, what is happening in the supply chain, what you are doing to support the community.

Invest in solving the problem. 

Tell people about it. Tell consumers what you are doing to help solve the problem. Demonstrate investment in the well-being of your staff and workers. All this will help build brand reputation on the other side.

Communicate across channels.

Don’t overwhelm people – don’t flood their inboxes or their newsfeed, but balance this to help restore calm.

Be sensitive.

Everyone has stuff to deal with in this life changing time so be empathetic, supportive & kind.

Don’t exploit this situation.

Consumers will remember how your brand behaved in this moment. Don’t let this damage your brand in the long term because you were too focused on the short term

We ran some social media listening to understand the conversation around coronavirus to understand how consumers feel:

  • The biggest emotion in relation to COVID-19 conversation on social media is understandably anxiety.
  • The largest conversation around this topic is about exercise and keeping fit – so physical wellbeing is a key concern, priority and focus for consumers.
  • On the whole, consumers are sharing positive brand stories and celebrating brands that have done well, supported and/or offered a service.
  • However, those that have been called out have evoked strong emotion. Brands that have been seen to be dishonest, untrustworthy and capitalising on the pandemic for profit are met with a large volume of negative comments across social media platforms.
  • Consumers want to hear from brands to offer reassurances and service. But be sensitive and consider context.
  • Consumers are turning to traditional news outlets for news rather than social channels as fake news is becoming widely accepted. The social media platforms will have a job to do to reassure in the future.
  • This new normal is giving us interesting innovation and mass adoption of technology, which does give us an new perspective on what might come next and how generations will use tech once we are through this.

Our listening research demonstrated that brands which stand up and act are being celebrated. This will build brand reputation and those not serving the community may be harming long term brand reputation.

The opportunity for brands:

  • Brands shouldn’t sell products, but offer a service.
  • Be a public service and help the community.
  • Focus on trust and transparency.
  • More than ever, brands need to understand their role in society and the problem(s) they are trying to fix.
  • Brands should help consumers feel part of something bigger or lead a better life.
  • Brands need to be here in times of need, not be silent. M&S was there for the people in WW2 & after, the people were there for M&S. People remember.
  • Brands need to answer the short term need while still building long term.
  • Brands need to engage emotionally while still being sensitive. Social media is the perfect platform to emotionally connect. Social media listening ensures you get the tone right.

Stay safe – if you want to know how social media listening can help you understand the conversation and how COVID-19 impacts your brand, get in touch. See you on the other side.