There's no denying the profound impact the Coronavirus has had on our lives. With the pandemic affecting 210 countries across the globe, putting 20% off the population into lockdown, it's no surprise that the pandemic has changed the way we live, our behaviour, and our routines.
For brands, this means that consumer behaviour has drastically changed and now, more than ever, they need to stay ahead of the current climate in order to continue brand growth. After all, the pandemic won’t last forever and brands still need to continue to push growth even if driving sales is difficult at the moment.
This is where your organic social media strategy comes into play. Brands are increasing their use of organic content in order to engage with their audience, at a time where screen time is on the rise as people are relying on digital channels to connect with the outside world. There are businesses out there who already have a successful social media strategy. However, for those who are struggling to adapt to the current climate, here are our recommendations.
1. What can you offer your audience aside from your products?
Sure, you have great products and a loyal customer base. But, what else can you offer? Offering your customers something other than your product will show them the caring and ethical side of the business. Now is the time to fully immerse yourself in your brand's community and truly understand their core needs, desires, and personality traits.
Use social media to offer things that may help to benefit them during COVID-19:
- Are you able to offer health benefits, such as free workouts, yoga sessions or recipes?
- Discounts for key workers?
- Promote sales of the relevant "working from home" items?
- Donate to charities you can see your audience are supporting?
Treating your customers as family and friends will help them to stay loyal during these strange times. Customers want to know that their money is going to a good place and to a brand that cares. If you can keep them loyal during this, then once lockdown is lifted you will see an increase in sales from your most valuable customers.
2. Get creative - it's time to interact!
Sit back and look at the core elements of your business and what makes it so unique to your customers - are you able to still offer them an interactive experience online?
Live and virtual events
Virtual events are a great way to keep the audience engaged, and during a time when most are hungry for social contact, people are more likely to find the time to connect with the brands they love.
Brands are able to create events using the Facebook event feature that users can attend for free, allowing them to connect with like-minded individuals. For example, book stores have been hosting free virtual book clubs, fitness brands have been offering boot camps, and fashion brands have been hosting free events with their stylists. If it's not possible for your brand to host a virtual event, there are still ways you can connect with the audience through various media forms, like graphics, animations, long-form videos and more.
Instagram, for example, is a very reactive, visually-driven platform, so it's no surprise that its live feature has seen an increase in use by many brands. There's a good chance that your users are scrolling through Instagram more than usual, so there's a possibility that a simple image won't catch their attention the way it usually does. With Instagram becoming a noisier place than usual (and it's already pretty loud!), brands have been using Instagram Live to connect with their audience on a deeper level and to offer them something extra during the lockdown.
How have brands used live events successfully?
A brand that has been using this feature successfully is London-based hair and cosmetic company, Bleach London. Bleach has been using this feature to host weekly lockdown parties, where celebrity guests, influencers, and their team will show how they use the products and to offer tips and tricks. The company has also collaborated with artists and DJs to offer lockdown parties that connect with their audience's other interests. Every brand will have something that they are able to offer, outside of sales. Whether these are styling tips, motivational talks, live music, ‘how-to’ pieces, or even virtual quizzes and bingo nights - all brands should be able to find something to be able to interact with their audience.
Tell us a Story!
Instagram and Facebook stories are incredibly important. With Instagram's algorithm making it harder for posts to be seen, Stories are now a great place to showcase any unreleased video content. If your staff are working from home, this is a place they are able to get involved. Not only are you able to implement social shopping on Instagram stories, but brands are now able to create their own filters. Designer brands such as Prada have created their own filters for the audience to use. For small brands, this is a creative way to get your loyal followers to advertise your brand to a further following who have not yet discovered you!
New to IGTV? There's a great deal of value behind having branded streamed content. If you have any long-form videos that haven't been used yet, then now is a great time to upload them. Or, if you have the capacity, start creating them! IGTV allows videos of up to 1 hour, so the possibilities of this channel are endless. For example, now could be the perfect time to upload "how-to" videos as many users will be using this time to learn new skills.
If your brand is already successful in these areas, then why not try something new! TikTok is available in over 150 countries and has over 1 billion users - so let’s not underestimate its power. If you are creating vertical videos already for Stories and Snapchat, then upload them to TikTok. Brands have the ability to include website links within the posts, so this platform not only helps to encourage brand growth, but will also drive valuable traffic to your store.
Last, but certainly not least, we have the original video streaming platform, YouTube. It's important to be savvy when it comes to YouTube marketing - there are already over 50 million content creators using this platform! Research what your competitors are doing, the videos the audience are watching and use relevant hashtags. If you are looking to expand your strategy, now could be a fantastic time to start collaborating with YouTube influencers through this channel.
3. Stay connected - community management is key!
It might seem pretty obvious but having a consistent community management strategy in place will help to minimise any PR disasters. If you are an ecommerce brand who solely operates online, now is the time that you might recieve complaints due to disruptions in shipping and posting. By replying to customers quickly and efficiently, you will be minimising the chance of bad reviews and loyal customers shopping elsewhere. Always be honest. If next day delivery isn't feasible, being honest with your customers and removing this service will save any problems in the future - especially negative feedback across social networks!
4. Remember - it's ok to recognise the current climate!
We are all living in it, and the majority of customers will understand that you are still a business. Changing the type of content you publish and the tone of voice is essential, and this is something that needs to be implemented across all platforms. As an ecommerce brand, choose the products your customers are likely to purchase and write a caption that suits this - make sure they can relate to the content! It's ok to acknowledge the current climate, and most customers will understand that business must go on. But it's important that brands do so honestly and simply, so the customer can always relate, and feel connected to the brand they love.
If nothing else, businesses both large and small need to get creative and start problem solving. Each channel has its own range of new innovations and communications that will allow you to still show the audience that they are a priority, even during times of uncertainty. If you are focussed, and seek to use social media to support the customer and their communities, your brand will come out of this stronger than ever before.
We hope this has given you some ideas and tips for improving your organic social media - if you would like help with creating and managing your social media strategy, or for that matter any aspect of your online marketing, drop us a line. We’re the Shopify and ecommerce experts and would love to help your brand grow.