Let’s face it.
We really haven’t started this year on a great note. The looming presence of a global pandemic has brought life to an absolute standstill.
Panic and fear are spreading faster than the virus itself, leaving people paranoid. Everyone in the household is glued to the TV and frantically reloading social media pages in search of the latest updates on COVID-19.
As marketers, most of us aren’t exactly prepared for the coronavirus. In that way, it’s nice that we’re all in the same boat. But this isn’t going away anytime soon. Coronavirus will impact every sector and industry, including marketing and social media.
Businesses everywhere need to take a step back and reevaluate their strategy. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How is our business affected by this crisis?
- How are we going to handle it?
- What measures should we be taking to not go viral for the wrong reasons?
How marketers handle the coronavirus will separate the pros from the amateurs. Here’s what you need to do.
1. Review your current content plan
Start by reviewing the content you planned on publishing. Re-read the posts you had scheduled and think about whether it’s still relevant in a post-coronavirus world.
Almost all major events have been canceled or rescheduled to a later date. You might even have canceled events yourself, so make sure to scrap your scheduled content and social media posts around the event.
Times like these require businesses to stay vigilant. The last thing you want is to have your social media posts going viral for the wrong reasons. Imagine the unfortunate situation of having a scheduled ad campaign for a vacation in Milan at this particular time!
2. Remember: a worldwide pandemic is not a marketing opportunity for your business
Seriously, it’s not.
This is a serious situation. Now really isn’t the right time to toot your own horn and try to steal the show with what your brand has to offer.
Global businesses are affected by this outbreak and hundreds of people have lost their jobs to corona-related layoffs. The last thing you want to do right now is run a big giveaway or an expensive ad campaign when people are literally fighting for their lives.
People will remember how you handle your marketing during this time. And trying to capitalize off a situation like this could make you suffer irreparable brand damage. Instead, consider how your brand can contribute to fighting the pandemic.
3. Take it seriously…but don’t contribute to the panic.
You don’t want to cause panic by constantly reminding your audience that stores are running out of toilet papers and hand sanitizer. We got enough fearmongering out there.
It is much more important that you tell your audience how the pandemic affects your company and the ability to operate. Any particular changes in delivery? Are events still being held? Can people still get ahold of you?
Once that’s done, take this time to focus on the projects that have been put on the back burner for a while. Pause your regular tweets, your stories, and your posts. Ramp up on customer service and make sure your team is ready to service requests.
If you still wish to give back as part of a corporate social responsibility initiative, consider supporting the cause with brand-relevant content as Netflix has.
Wash your hands you detty pig a thread:
🎞️ BoJack Horseman pic.twitter.com/bffwwRzccv
— Netflix Italia (@NetflixIT) March 11, 2020
4. Empathize with your audience.
Questions will be flooding your way as customers want to know the status of your products and services. Especially if you’re in the entertainment, restaurant or travel sector, people will be reaching out at a higher volume for refunds or cancellation policies.
Sticking your head in the sand is not the right way to go about it. You need to reassure your audience that you’re on top of things and making the right calls to handle the crisis.
Most importantly, brands need to understand the changing needs of their customers and their emotional state of mind. Be wary of what you post; it’s a fine line and sometimes it’s better to stay quiet than to hijack attention and contribute noise.
Doing so can make all the difference in how your brand is being perceived by your audience. People will remember how you handle your marketing during this time.
5. Stay (and keep people) informed.
The status of this pandemic is changing by the hour. What might have seemed appropriate to share yesterday might not be the best way to position your brand today.
Be considerate of your tone of voice and the way you convey your message. A joke might seem harmless to you now, but keep in mind that the severity of the outbreak is different across different regions. Some will have this closer to their hearts than others.
Unlike what we saw during the swine flu pandemic, the Ebola epidemic, and the Zika outbreak, social networks are far better equipped today to tackle fake news and conspiracy theories. In fact, social media have enabled scientific collaboration, boosted fundraisers, and — perhaps, most importantly — helped quarantined people keep sane during isolation.
Let add to that list together.
This sure is a difficult time. While the government, public sectors, NGOs, and many other medical institutions are doing their best to fight the battle, it lies on all of us to follow their recommendations and take the necessary steps to combat the pandemic.
Starting with this.