The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted nearly every single aspect of life throughout the world. Social distancing and the closure of businesses has significantly altered our economy and the way we communicate. If you or your team are managing social media accounts, it is important to remain cognizant of tone, messaging and the hardships many are currently facing. Equally as important is to maintain a connection with your audience as Facebook and Instagram usage have both increased by 40%.
So how do you balance being sensitive to consumers’ economic hardship and needing to generate revenue for the business? The Social Group™ believes it really depends on your relationship with your audience, the products or services you’re providing, and what the brand is doing to altruistically help the community. Let’s take a look at the NBA’s Miami Heat and some other brands as examples of the type of content and messaging they’re pushing out on social media channels.
- Current B2C Relationship
The Miami Heat have traditionally maintained a very positive relationship with their fans. Taking a surface layer look, their social media engagement is high, overwhelmingly positive and supportive. The content being published ranges from highlights and replays of games to bringing viewers behind the scenes into players’ homes and directly asking their audience on the type of content they’d like to see. Though it may seem obvious, asking your audience what they want is often overlooked. Sometimes social media managers and marketers try so hard to figure out what they think their followers want to see. Oftentimes, it’s better just to ask directly while generating positive engagement and feedback.
The closure of businesses from offering services and products has caused several other problems: communication. Several companies have been experiencing massive surges in wait times for those contacting official call centers. No company is perfect and it’s unreasonable to expect an unlimited number of support staff to be available.
Carnival Cruise Lines, one of the most impacted brands during the COVID-19 pandemic, published a simple, straight-to-the-point video from Christine Duffy, President of Carnival Cruise Line. In the video, Duffy acknowledges the long wait times while offering apologies and reassurances that they are listening and doing everything they can to help customers receive refunds. It’s a message that requires very little effort but pays off in a big way. Customers want to feel that they are being heard and acknowledged. Although things may seem to be getting worse before they get better, this was a small but important win for Carnival Cruise Line’s image.
- Products and Services
The Social Group™ recently came across an ad from a caviar brand promoting the sale of expensive caviar ranging from $169 to over $1,300. Perhaps it’s not the best time to be promoting an expensive luxury good while jobless claims in the United States have soared to over 10 million. But is it wrong? It really depends on your audience targeting. If you’re marketing a product to your ideal audience, that you believe there is want and need for (supported by your own data analysis), then go for it. After all, you still need to generate ROI and revenue in order for your company to survive. So long as you’re mitigating negative feedback, sharpening your target audience, and monitoring your ROAS (return on ad spend), then it could very well be worth it.
Taking another look at the Miami Heat, they too are actively promoting the sale and renewal of season tickets. And that’s during a global pandemic with the current NBA season being cancelled!
Although there are certainly some negative comments in response to this campaign on Facebook and Instagram, the Miami Heat were as sensitive and self aware as possible. The brand is acknowledging the current situation which is extremely important. Brands should avoid sounding tone deaf at all times. A simple acknowledgement of the pandemic, while wishing everyone well and offering hope for the future is key. The messaging in this ad subtly provides hope and comfort that everything will be okay by promoting next year’s basketball season even though the current one has been cancelled.
Gulfstream Park, a thoroughbred horse racing venue with outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment options, recently shut its doors to the public and no longer allows thousands of fans to watch live racing. A fun and engaging way they chose to interact with their fans through social media was creating a “jockey bracket tournament”, similar to the NCAA’s March Madness. It proved to be one of the most successful campaigns in the past two years for Gulfstream Park.
- Community Outreach
A good way to stay engaged with your audience is to establish a community outreach campaign. Publix Supermarkets for example announces senior shopping hours. Since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is particularly dangerous to the elderly, Publix wanted to create a shopping experience that was as safe as possible. According to the CDC, individuals over the age of 65 are at an increased risk. Publix is one of the most recognizable brands in the South Florida market and they’ve been able to increase their positive standing in the community throughout the pandemic by helping consumers.
The Miami Heat’s HEAT Charitable Fund also donated $1 million geared towards aiding employees and the local community for the foreseeable future. The Miami Heat are a strong example of a brand finding a balance between maintaining revenue and the need to carry on as a business while being sensitive to the community and current health crisis.
Some brands have debated on whether to halt marketing altogether, to pivot their messaging, or to focus on community outreach. While the current health crisis’ end is uncertain and no one knows for sure when things will return to “normal”, The Social Group™ believes social media marketing is a powerful and relatively cost-effective way of staying engaged with your audience. Eventually, customers will be welcomed back and if your brand has been quiet for weeks or months, you could miss out on a much needed rebound in business. Our advice is to find fun, interesting, helpful ways to stay connected and top of mind.
As a social media partner agency of Facebook, The Social Group™ has access to certain reports and assets that aren’t published to the public. One featured graphic can be seen below. Approximately 2,700 Americans were surveyed regarding their consumer behavior at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. As probably expected, the great majority is digitally active, whether it’s shopping online, streaming TV or using social media.
While every brand and business is different, these are challenging times faced by us all. If you have questions about how best to strategize your social media or overall digital marketing strategies, feel free to reach out to us. The Social Group™ is a Facebook and Google partner agency and we are also Facebook Blueprint certified.