As the changes in commerce first started taking hold as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the marketing industry had a collective “What are we supposed to do now?” moment.
Ads halted, campaigns were delayed, and messaging was shifted to replace existing marketing strategies that COVID made irrelevant at best (or irresponsible at worst). And when it came to making the most immediate and relevant updates to their marketing, businesses turned to social media first.
In a time when news moved quickly, businesses used social media as the primary medium to communicate with their customers. Updates about business hours, changes in products or services, and other options to support the business online became the most important information to share, as opposed to the lifestyle and brand-oriented content audiences are used to seeing online.
And now, many marketers are realizing that their Band-Aid measures are sticking around longer than expected. Whether your business is operating like “normal” or not, the social content that customers need is still very different from our pre-COVID landscape. Further, important conversations regarding race and inequality in society add another layer of gravity to the world we live in, which leaves marketers in an unrecognizable social media environment from six months ago.
So where has your social media strategy gone during this time? Out the window? You’re not alone. But don’t despair. If your overarching marketing strategy is strong and your brand is well-defined, nothing about the strategic foundation of your social media has to change. But you do need to take a step back and reassess how your social media efforts fit in with your business goals and contemporary society.
Adjust Your Goals
No matter the industry, it’s very likely that your KPIs and social metrics have been affected by the current crisis. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, American consumer spending dropped a record 12.6% in April. A decrease that significant is bound to reach every corner of the economy, affecting sales pipelines and many key marketing metrics.
This leaves a lot of room for businesses to reconsider their social media approach. According to Facebook, the average time a user spent on their platform went up, while spending from advertisers went down. This means that reaching your audience organically might be easier now than in the past. With greater access to your audience, it’s important to identify how you will measure your social media performance if sales or new leads are no longer reliable.
Pushing for sales might be futile right now, so maybe focusing on brand awareness or increasing audience size is a more achievable goal. No matter how you shift your goals, just make sure you have a reliable way to measure them.
Avoid the Urge to Go Back to Normal
Like anything in a post-COVID world, it’s best to proceed cautiously on social media. While your business might be open and customers are enjoying a relatively normal experience, it’s a good idea to resist the urge to your pre-pandemic content.
Brands may be tempted to do their part to combat the emerging trend of “COVID fatigue”—collective exhaustion that has resulted from prolonged caution and stress—by trying to inject a bit of normalcy into social media feeds. Unfortunately, proceeding to post as if nothing has happened may do more harm than good for your brand.
Sprout Social is a social media technology company that also studies social media and audience trends. They studied how approving audiences are to different types of content during this crisis, which helps marketing teams understand how to shift their content for the future.
According to their study, only 52% of the audience approved of brands running “normal” advertising campaigns that aren’t related to coronavirus, compared to 89% of the audience that approved of brands providing practical tips and advice to help deal with the situation.
“Mission-based” marketing has also increased by 42% since March, which illustrates further that pre-pandemic content doesn’t carry the same weight in a post-pandemic environment.
Set Time for Regular Review
The calendar year 2020 has taught us that we’re all going to have to get accustomed to rapid change. A good social media strategy sets regular intervals for review to ensure the strategy in place is still effective. At Happy Medium, we analyze social performance monthly, but we perform a high-level strategy review every quarter.
When things change rapidly, these regularly scheduled reviews fall to the wayside. When your only focus is treading water, there isn’t much energy left to take a step back to see if your strategy is still performing. The new unpredictability of our social media landscape makes it even more important to maintain a regular review schedule.
Make sure that any regular social strategy review also involves input from other leaders in the business. As business operations and goals change, social media strategy also needs to change. Remember, a social media strategy is only successful if it supports larger company objectives.
We can’t predict the future, but we can at least plan for it.
Every industry faces unique challenges, so there aren’t any one-size-fits-all solutions. But one thing that all brands can do to improve their social strategy is planning for future possibilities. Use the lessons that you learned during this crisis to build out an “in case of emergencies” social plan that will help ease the burden in the future.
Brands have had to do a lot of work adjusting in an unprecedented time, and whether their efforts were successful or not, we shouldn’t let the lessons go to waste. Even if you never have to put the crisis plan into action, you’ll never regret making one. And now is the best time to make one as the experience is still fresh in your mind. Of course, building out a refreshed social strategy takes a lot of work. Happy Medium has plenty of experience helping brands create social strategies that deliver results, so if you’re looking for some expert advice to set you up for future success, give us a shout.