• Valerie Fullen

Utilizing Social in a Time of Crisis

Whether directly or indirectly, I think it’s safe to say that the entire world is feeling the many effects of our current global crisis. Individuals are feeling the heavy weight of isolation, businesses are being faced with their toughest decisions yet, and families are exhausted as they take on the burdens of work and childcare, all while trying to provide the essentials to merely survive.

Now, more than ever, digital and social communications are helping to keep us connected - sharing updates and information, comforting the isolated, and serving up a little humor to shed some light on the current situation. Social media platforms are playing a crucial role as they offer government agencies, hospitals, and health care providers a framework in which instantaneous communication is helping coordinate speedy responses to emergencies, concerns and aid assistance. These platforms are also helping ease the effects of isolation and provide a new way for people to connect during a time of mandated quarantine.


While many businesses are working through challenging decisions regarding how to generate sales, make payroll and pay rent, a number of organizations are essentially being forced to cut costs in other areas to simply survive the economic shutdown. This is a crucial time for all businesses to pause and review both their short-term and long-term tactics. Unfortunately, in times like these, the marketing budget is the first to endure a cut. According to ActionCOACH regarding the current crisis, marketing and selling are of the top things that businesses should be doing at this time to "keep your position in the industry".


Despite the challenging times ahead of us, we are being presented with an opportunity to become better corporate citizens - to form real connections with our audience, create new ways of working together, and demonstrate strength and leadership during a global crisis. This is the time to make a true impact and stand up for your organization, your employees and your customers. Below, we will be sharing three ways in which your business can modify its current strategic plan to utilize social media and email marketing during the crisis.

USE SOCIAL TO PROMOTE HUMAN CONNECTION

Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, we were already witnessing hard times - political unrest, natural disasters, acts of terrorism - all things which can greatly divide people. On top of such already existing challenges, most social activities have come to an abrupt halt with announcements of state and county mandated quarantine orders. The existence of real human connection has been hanging by a thread for sometime now, and with this global crisis, that thread can easily be snipped. However, data is showing that more people than ever are using social media platforms to connect with others and stay abreast of updates and information.


Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerburg stated during a press call that WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger usage has more than doubled since the outbreak first began. Even further, digital communities have seen an uptick as well with more than 300 local COVID-19 support groups forming on Facebook with a combined membership of over one million users. People are using such social media groups to form bonds and help their communities cope with the many challenges being faced.


As a business, there are two basic ways to utilize social media right now to make a lasting impact on your customers - do good, or make people feel good.

Do Good

If you’ve spent anytime reading our blogs or conducting your own marketing research, you’re certain to have heard the idea that the best way to cultivate loyalty and make a lasting impression on your customers is by developing a deeper purpose for your brand. Now is the best time to put that suggestion into action.

Is your business is doing something to help your customers, employees or your community during this pandemic? Share it on social! Ask your employees to share it on social. Employee advocacy is one of the strongest displays of trust to your audience, and during this time, peer-to-peer sharing is crucial to spreading these messages far and wide.


Make People Feel Good

Top brands and influencers are utilizing social media to share art, music, guided meditations, inspirational messages and so much more in an effort to help uplift the spirits of their followers. Grammy Award winner, Lizzo led a mass guided meditation for all of her 8.4 million Instagram followers in an effort to promote healing during the global crisis. What can your organization do to promote a little feel good for your customers?

UTILIZE SOCIAL TO MITIGATE BUSINESS DISRUPTION

With the majority of the country sheltering at home, 87% of North American marketers predict an increase in the use of online services, including an increase in ecommerce sales. Chinese cosmetic company, Lin Qingxuan, was forced to close nearly half of its stores in the peak of the crisis there. Rather than lay off employees, the company appointed more than 100 of them as online beauty consultants to act as brand influencers. The result? Lin Qingxuan had triple the sales versus this time last year.


Many small businesses in niche industries have made the switch to social-only services. One New York-based aesthetician saw an immediate increase in cancelled appointments as the epidemic began. Sophie Pavitt then began offering facial tutorials on her Instagram page, with more than 7,000 of her followers tuning in to the first one. In turn, that initial tutorial landed her 36 virtual consultations. She is now hosting guided tutorials every Sunday on her Instagram channel to provide followers with some much needed self-care during this time of high stress and isolation.

These examples show us that critical thinking combined with a little creativity can not only help mitigate disruptions in business, but offer new, exciting ways to engage with your customers during the present, as well as in the months and even years ahead.


USE LESSONS OF THE PRESENT TO PLAN FOR THE FUTURE

The sudden, hard-hitting crisis has forced businesses around the country to rethink their current, short-term strategies to deal with the new rules and regulations that are being put into place by government officials in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. While this is absolutely necessary, now is a great time to extend the planning to help build long-term strategies. If nothing else, this pandemic is showing businesses and organizations that having a solid digital plan in place is crucial in this day and age, especially in the case of an emergency.

With all the panic generated from the epidemic, government agencies, hospitals and healthcare providers were hit by a wave of cyber traffic from individuals seeking answers to questions and updates to information. Much of which their online infrastructure and staff were not equipped to handle. Such issues are proving to us the urgency of cleaning up your business’s digital act. Removing old social accounts, updating current ones, putting security practices into place, and tightening up internal controls are all tasks in which your business or organization can put into place as you plan for dealing with such crises should something [inevitably] happen again in the future.

Organizations with digital practices and procedures already in place are faring much better than those without. For example, virtual healthcare company, PlushCare, saw a 40% bump in virtual appointment volume over the last few months, many of which were booked as the epidemic was first hitting.


This crisis is definitely changing the way business and communications are conducted. Systems will change, lessons will be learned, and new skills will develop.


The team at JanMar Agency is going strong. We are here to develop dynamic marketing and communication strategies to help your business or organization communicate effectively through the crisis. Call us today to schedule your virtual consultation.



Sources:

Hootsuite: Adapting to More Digital and Social Ways of Being in a Time of Crisis

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