The world is facing a difficult time right now. The Coronavirus pandemic is causing widespread issues and will impact the world for years after it passes. Many people are out of work, uncertain about their careers, or working from home for the first time. A lot of us are wondering how to continue to manage our businesses and digital brands during such unprecedented times.
For many, their very survival depends upon continuing to do their work in the world. However, approaching this during a pandemic is something that must be done with great care. Also, it is no secret that Coronavirus is bringing about changes in how people communicate and shop.
Here are some things to consider as you manage your brand during these difficult times.
China Sets An Example
The Coronavirus began in Wuhan, China. As a result, China struggled with the virus before the rest of the world and has become the first to successfully contain it. However, did you know that brands in China have maintained connections and sales with consumers during the crisis?
Research from Gartner shows that online use rose by 20% in China, as people became confined in their homes. During this time of uncertainty, many brands in China stepped up to provide people with content to boost their morale and make them feel less isolated. This included large inspirational campaigns with celebrity influencers.
On top of boosting morale, many brands also took a more tangible approach. They donated money and essential medical supplies to those on the frontlines of the fight against the pandemic. They would then promote these efforts on social media.
What Digital Brands Can Learn
Ultimately, we are all going through this together. As a brand and business, you have an opportunity to inspire and help consumers through it. People are being negatively impacted by Coronavirus in so many ways.
Depending on the kind of business you run, donating locally might make the most sense. There are also numerous charities that you opt to work with. You can even spearhead some sort of initiative yourself.
Even making content that helps to boost morale or inspire people is a wonderful thing to do during these times. More people are on social media and online than ever, and they need that kind of content.
For example, In China, Estée Lauder’s Weibo hashtag “We Can Win This Fight”, was paired with celebrity video messages. It has been viewed more than 61 million times and generated 328,000 discussions. Its wild success shows that people need and appreciate this type of content right now because it lifts their spirits.
Should You Adjust Your Content Strategy?
The answer to this, almost certainly, is yes. Think about it this way:
Social media is essentially millions of conversations happening at once, but often a few conversations dominate the general tone. If everyone on social media is talking about Coronavirus, but your brand totally fails to acknowledge it because you set up your social calendar six months ago, that is a huge problem.
People who understand the content business will know that all of your content is essentially on autopilot and be unlikely to engage with you. It makes your digital brand look robotic and phoned-in. However, the bigger problem is that most consumers know nothing about the content business.
This will not read as a simple oversight to them. They will think that your digital brand is totally out of touch, or simply does not care. During such a difficult time, you want your brand to be a light for people. You want to uplift and help people as much as you can. You do not want to offend or hurt anyone.
Sensitivity Is Key
You do want to tread with care while acknowledging the situation. This is a difficult time for many people on many levels. Around the world, many people have lost loved ones. You don’t want to be seen as trying to exploit this crisis for the gain of your brand either.
Also, many people are feeling fatigued from news overload. So, you don’t want your content to drag people down. This can be tricky, especially when so much of the news out there is not positive.
So, what approach should you take?
If Your Digital Brand Is Directly Impacted By The Coronavirus
If a brand is in the travel, hospitality, or restaurant industries, it is likely that their followers expect their content to heavily reflect and focus on the crisis. Consumers want to know how these companies are responding to the crisis and how they are working to protect employees and clients. You need to let your followers know.
It doesn’t have to be extravagant. For example, this tweet from Wendy’s is casual, brand-appropriate, and communicates what is necessary:
If you do not communicate well, you risk coming across as insensitive. For example, a paid campaign promoting a travel agency’s deal to an exotic location would read in a particularly horrible light right now. Here is a real-life example of how horribly this can go:
In Spain, one of the epicenters of Coronavirus infection and deaths in Europe, a food delivery app called Just Eat was still running their normal paid ads on social media. They did this throughout much of the state of alarm, even though most of the country’s restaurants had closed weeks ago. For weeks, Spanish social media users angrily commented on all of their ads, accusing them of sacrificing people’s lives by staying open.
You want to avoid a situation like this at all costs.
All Brands Should Ditch These Posts
Even if your industry has not been directly impacted, your following likely has certain expectations. Stop all organic and paid promotional content that comes across as tone-deaf. This includes:
- Content showing large events
- Promotional content for canceled events
- Calls to get people to visit locations in-person while social isolation is in effect
- Insensitive copy that makes light of words like “viral,” etc
- Any misinformation
The Dangers Of Misinformation
Many people have taken to social media to spread misinformation about the pandemic. Many people are claiming that various essential oils and even just drinking water can protect you. Some have claimed that no one under a certain age can get sick. These are dangerous claims to make.
One popular myth that widely circulated is that taking ibuprofen while infected can cause harm and even death. This has been debunked, but the harm has already been done. Many infected people likely will not take ibuprofen, which could help with their fevers and discomfort, due to this misinformation.
As an official professional channel, it is your job to only share verified information. We all want to help and we all want good news. However, fake good news can be worse than real bad news. If you do not have a direct and verified source for information, do not share it. During these times, we cannot afford to put people in any more danger. Your digital reputation also depends on it.
Embrace Going Digital
For the time being, the in-person is out. It is irresponsible to incite people to go anywhere non-essential or to gather for any reason. Understandably, this is a tough thing for many businesses to get their heads around. Many of us have brick-and-mortar stores, sell or work with physical products, or promote or take part in physical events.
So, what can digital brands and businesses do?
Shift Your Goals
Does most of your copy center on getting people to go somewhere physically? Shift your goals. Get them to visit your website, Instagram page, YouTube channel, etc, instead. Focus on meaningful virtual interaction.
Firstly, this is just more responsible. Right now it is not safe for people’s health for them to gather or go anywhere non-essential. You don’t want to put people at risk.
Secondly, these virtual interactions are important for your business, whether they are directly linked to your online store or not. After the pandemic passes, your followers will still be able to interact with you, keep up with you, and possibly convert.
Think About What You Can Offer In New Ways
Undoubtedly, this is a very challenging time. Regardless of who you are or what you do, COVID-19 has likely impacted you in some way. Many of us are stuck at home and looking for ways to feel hopeful, strong, and connected.
Many people are using this time to embark on personal projects or learn new skills. Think about what you can offer to your following digitally that matches your brand and niche.
For example, we are offering an entirely virtual Speaker Branding Summit from April 29th to May 1st. As an online summit, speakers and attendees can take part from their own homes. All you need is an internet connection. So, it is in accordance with all the necessary safety and social-distancing measures due to the Coronavirus.
Think about what your digital brand can really do digitally for your audience. Then you can continue to offer value to your audience and do your work in the world. Currently, many people are looking to use this time for digital productivity, entertainment, inspiration, and connection. You can potentially offer things to help them get through hard times.
Ultimately, this is an incredibly difficult situation that needs to be handled in the right way. Many people make the mistake of forgetting that “social” is a key part of social media. Real people see all of your posts and can be affected by them.
Always, but in this time especially, you want to strive to be a positive force on social media. You want people to connect with your posts and overall brand in a good way.
Depending on your brand, you might teach people, inspire them, offer them an opportunity to grow, or simply just make them laugh. All of these things are wonderful. However, they are especially important at a time like this.
Remember, stellar brands are not built on just bells and whistles. It’s all about how you serve your audience.