To say that we are living in unprecedented times is stating the obvious-our TVs and smartphones are relaying the grim news round the clock already. In all honesty, we wake up every morning and ask ourselves if the pandemic was just a nightmare and that everything is just shipshape and shiny. Unfortunately, it’s not. Disruption, fear, and uncertainty are the defining features of this new world that we are living in.
It’s not an easy time for anyone. Not for the first responders, doctors, nurses, sanitation workers, world leaders, businesses, and marketers. No one is exempt from the physical, psychological, and professional impact caused by COVID-19.
Marketers, especially, find themselves walking on eggshells. It’s true that because of the lockdown, people are spending more time on social media but what floated their boats 3 weeks ago, in our pre-coronavirus world, will not cut it now, the current coronavirus battered world. Their expectations, motivation, and intent have changed. And so our marketing approach will have to be in lockstep with it.
It’s a time when brands and marketers need to know when to hit the pause button and what and how to communicate when they do. Here are some guidelines that will help you navigate through this strange COVID-19 beleaguered digital environment.
Spread the Message of “Flattening the Curve”
Goes without saying. Brands and influencers need to communicate to their followers how crucial it is to follow the precautionary protocols prescribed by the government. As digital entities with a following, it behooves each and every brand-from an established player or a fledgling startup to use their voice and influence to educate and encourage. It could be something as simple as sharing with your followers how you and your staff/team are religiously practicing social distancing.
Be Sensitive in your Messaging
With the rapidly changing situation and the surge in infected cases, people are heavy with stress and anxiety. Brands need to be discreet and sensible in their messaging. They will need to think about how their product or service is relevant in the current situation and convey it in a voice that is empathetic.
Brands will have to keep in mind that some of their followers may have lost someone close to them to COVID-19 or lost their job because of the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic. This is why they will need to rethink their marketing strategy and work sensibly towards crafting useful, responsible, and brand-relevant “message” than tone-deaf, call to action gimmicks that will do more harm than good.
Keep your Audiences Engaged Through Relevant and Creative Content
Social media is where people log in to escape from the banality of their lives. But the currently configured situation not only calls for escapism but assurance and the yearning to stay connected with those going through this difficult time. This is where brands can help. Depending on the industry, brands can develop a content strategy that will keep their followers creatively engaged.
Say, for example, if you are a furniture brand-you could give simple decor tips to deck up a home office; it will definitely hit the nail right on the head as most of us are working from home and will be searching for such topics.
Don’t Make Light of the Crisis or Circulate Incorrect Information
We all love memes, don’t we? But as long as the memes don’t cross the boundary of crass humor or trivialize the global health crisis and the lives lost and stays within the lines of smile-producing-uplifting humor, it’s all okay. It’s also important to double, triple check any information regarding the pandemic that you will be putting out on your social media. One piece of misinformation will reach hundreds and thousands by the minute. This isn’t the time to perpetuate incorrect and unverified news and instill fear in the already panic-stricken people.
Avoid Publishing Tone-Deaf, Sales-y Posts
This isn’t the time to use COVID-19 as a click-bait to lure users on your website. Nor is it the time to turn a blind eye to the real problem that the whole world is grappling with and continue with outright, sales-y posts. Period. Your followers will be watching you, ever more closely now. One wrong move and you could lose their loyalty and goodwill for which you probably worked very hard to gain, forever.
Context and consideration are two operative words here. As long as you will be considerate towards your followers and communicate in a language that is couched in context-they will pull through this difficult time with the love and support of those who matter to them.