Since the first case of coronavirus emerged in the US, social media platforms have been inundated with chatter around the pandemic. There were nearly 20 million mentions of coronavirus-related terms on March 11 alone. For context, there were under two million mentions of the NBA suspension of the rest of its season, which was announced that same morning.
With the massive influx of social chatter around the pandemic, brands find themselves navigating an unprecedented moment that requires an efficient and effective social good response. Brands need to analyze how it makes sense for them to show up and what they can appropriately do to serve and connect with their community, while simultaneously cultivating trust and brand loyalty.
Leverage your core competencies to give back
It’s more important now than ever for a brand to be strategic about how they convene and participate in important conversations with consumers. With physical mobility currently limited due to the coronavirus, audiences are actively looking to online platforms for guidance – meaning brands have a huge opportunity to responsibly respond to the crisis via social media to foster loyalty and guide consumers to adapt their behaviors.
For example, by repurposing its perfume manufacturing lines to produce branded hand sanitizers for people in need (i.e. Givenchy), LVMH is not only reiterating its brand values to its current customer base but also introducing the brand to a wider audience. The multinational corporation took an elegant approach to position its brands as leaders in fighting the coronavirus and protecting public safety with actions, rather than lip service.
This type of social good initiative resonates with consumers and strengthens their trust in the brand as they see proactive actions that demonstrate that the brand is doing its part to take care of the world at large. Leveraging social and digital communications channels to share these actions help pave the way for long-lasting loyalty. Brands must recognize the need to show their consumers they’re initiating essential efforts in dire straits, whether it’s repurposing infrastructure to deliver consumer needs or repurposing resources so the right teams can deliver on those needs.
Connecting user experience across consumer touchpoints
Getting offline communications online isn’t a seamless transition for brands built before the digital era. Showing up online and on social channels is every brand’s imperative, however, and couldn’t be more relevant under the current circumstances. Today customers expect relevant, personalized and contextualized content and customer experience across websites, mobile, retail, communities, email, and other branded touchpoints. Brands are scrambling to re-plan and re-deploy their branded communication and content ecosystems.
One growth area that smart brands should be seriously considering is connected to TV (CTV), or any television that enables video streaming over the internet. By mapping media consumption based on the digital consumer journey, brands can leverage every touchpoint to drive the most effective and impactful marketing. Advertisers can retarget traditional TV commercials via CTV, then drive additional purchase opportunities and engagement through email, text and push notifications. CTV will continue to become a key advertising channel due to the shrinking of out of home and experiential industries which are being impacted significantly by the coronavirus.
Facilitate thoughtful conversation through your digital community
Unprecedented events call for calm and useful brand communications. Brands can share appropriate resources for their customers, like how Twitter shared communications advice for their brand community members, or how LinkedIn provided members with free courses to promote access to remote learning opportunities. Leading Search Experience Cloud company Yext recently began offering its Answers product for free to help brands deliver accurate and timely information about COVID-19.
Alternatively, brands can transform their digital properties and online networks into virtual social communities that distract and entertain their fans, providing the social interaction many are craving at this moment. Chipotle’s daily “Chipotle Together” sessions via Zoom, featuring celebrity guests and as many as 3,000 fans of the fast-casual restaurant, is a great example of a conniving virtual community that aligns with their brand values and their past marketing efforts across multiple digital and social channels. British cleaning supplier and RB brand Dettol drummed up viral engagement on Tik Tok with its own unique song and dance that pairs with the existing hashtag #HandWashChallenge, garnering nearly nine billion impressions within four days. By strategically tapping into this existing digital infrastructure and by joining an existing conversation in a lighthearted and engaging way, Dettol was able to reach an exponentially larger audience without over-communicating their offering.
Brand marketers are under a spotlight to respond to unfamiliar and troubling times, but only in an authentic way. Consumers expect each brand to honor its values in ways that go above and beyond normalcy. It’s up to each brand to be introspective at this time and think strategically about how they not only participate in the conversation but also “host” it in a credible way. The way for brands to stand out in a positive light is to be nimble, honest and consistent online. Consumers desire brand connections they can trust and rely on, as by nature humans need interaction and support. The brands able to show up and lend this human capacity for good are bound to enlist a loyal following.