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How COVID-19 Has Changed Social Media for Brands

By Higher Information Group on June 24, 2020 | Marketing Solutions

In a world turned upside down by the COVID-19 crisis, no aspect of life as we once knew it is the same. Homes have become offices, dining out has morphed into take-out only, sports have been relegated to re-runs, and houses of worship sit empty. In these examples and hundreds of others, we see the impact of stay-at-home orders and social distancing. Because people have been quarantined, social media is serving a huge role in keeping friends and family connected. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are also keeping brands connected to their communities, but in different ways than in pre-COVID-19 days. In this post, we’re going to explore how the crisis has changed the role of social media for brands, looking at messaging, the increased importance of customer care, and how social media is viewed within companies.

Messaging Takes on a Different Tone

Tapping into the “we’re all in this together” esprit de corps, companies are focusing on messages that are both positive and show empathy for their customers. Also, rather than pushing out typical springtime sales efforts, for example, brands are choosing to showcase their goodwill efforts like providing lunch for healthcare workers or assisting their own frontline workers.

While it might appear initially to be self-serving, bringing corporate social responsibility to the forefront can actually be something appreciated by a brand’s customers. Knowing that a company is helping the world become a better place can deepen the connection consumers already feel with a brand. Without a doubt, demonstrating a commitment to people above profits is an important message in these times of COVID-19.

Caring for Customers

With tension and anxiety levels running sky-high, customer care is uber-important, and social media has risen to meet the challenge. With many retailers closed or operating on reduced schedules and long wait times on the phones, consumers are turning to social media to help resolve issues. Comment sections and replies, once overlooked and underappreciated, transitioned to center stage as brands began to recognize the seismic shift from using social media as just another channel to, in some cases, being the only channel to connect with their customers.

Brands are also using social media to let their customers know about their goodwill gestures, like waiving fees. Just look at most major airlines. They have abandoned their practice of charging travelers for changing their plans. In another sector, financial institutions are taking a fresh look at their fee schedule and helping their customers by not collecting certain fees.

Goodwill can also take the form of any content that can provide distractions from the relentlessness of the COVID-19 crisis. Top brands have been sharing entertaining videos, free apps, and games. Chipotle went as far as creating a virtual hangout featuring celebrities, exclusive content, and free giveaways.

Social Media Teams Earn More Appreciation

In pre-COVID-19 days, social media’s role may have been underappreciated. Once relegated to supporting big-budget ad campaigns, social media took center stage to connect companies with their communities. No longer were social media teams operating in a nice-to-have capacity. Instead, they became essential.

As the country begins to reopen, much uncertainty still exists. Experts warn that we could quickly go back to where we were a few months ago and need to reinstate stay-at-home measures again. The unpredictability means everyone, including brands and their social media teams, must be nimble and reactive to unfolding scenarios. The well-deserved visibility and importance gained during the crisis should secure social media teams a permanent seat at the decision-making table.

From messaging and customer care to the very role social media plays, COVID-19 has made an impact on how social media teams fulfill a brand’s promise to their communities. Because the impact of COVID-19’s disruption will be felt for a long time to come, it might be time for you to take a fresh look at your digital marketing and social media strategies.

Schedule a meeting with Higher Information Group to see how our digital marketing experts can help your brand move to the next level.

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