During times of crisis--once measures to protect employee's personal safety are set in motion--businesses are conditioned to stop and evaluate spending and strategy across their organization. In this unprecedented time when the world is facing a global pandemic and a resulting economic downturn, companies may look to their social media marketing spend to trim expenses. Marketing experts and experienced leaders will all agree that while a few course corrections may be necessary, an all-out stop on marketing and sales will be detrimental to your company's survivability. Here are 3 directions you should consider taking with your social media marketing strategy and spend at this time:
- Don't slam the brakes. If social media is a crucial cog in your marketing machine, don't remove it. Facebook reported that in the first week of the COVID-19 lockdown in the US, usage increased by more than 50%. Your customers are online, and while they may not be shopping for your product at the moment, your absence, should you completely stop your social feed, will not go unnoticed and may raise questions on whether or not you are still operational.
- It's OK to ease your foot off the accelerator. While you don't want to come to a complete stop, it is acceptable to slow down and take a few breaths before you post. Especially if your business is not considered essential, or is not able to offer a complete range of services at this time, stop and evaluate what you want your message to be, and add meaningful posts to your feed. You don't need to necessarily change your messaging or alter your brand image, but be careful to not be tone-deaf. Being tone deaf can happen in a few ways:
- Don't ignore the crisis, but don't act like an expert in areas you are not: You will need to adjust your content. Acknowledge that we are in a global crisis, but don't offer advice you are not qualified to offer. For example, people don't want to hear advice on when to see a doctor from their accountant, but they do want to hear recommended tax tips on the tax deadline delay.
- Don't promote activities that are discouraged: Think twice about what you are posting. If you are selling items for a party, promoting your wedding planning, or encouraging large group activities, your post may backfire with negative comments from people who will view you as being disrespectful of authority.
- Don't target people who are suffering: Price gauging or trying to sell based on terror will never be viewed as good business practice, and will certainly draw heavy backlash.
- Don't make jokes: There are truly people who are suffering, and while jokes and gifs abound on social feeds, stay out of the meme game. And whatever you do, don't get political during a time of crisis.
- It's also OK to step on the gas. If you're offering doesn’t help people resolve immediate needs, consider pausing any ads. However, if you’re selling the right kinds of products and services to address the current climate, you should be promoting yourself as people need to find you. The best time to spend marketing money is when your products are in demand and people are looking for you. It is also when competition will be the highest, so be prepared to spend more. But if the market is responding, your cash flow should support the increased spend. If you’re a restaurant, push ads that promote your delivery or carry out services. If you are a business that provides video conferencing software or capabilities, promote your services to other businesses to communicate or organizations that want to start streaming. Keep your messaging focused on letting people know you are there to help make their lives easier during this time.
Remember, the world is in shock. Craft your marketing message with empathy. and go with your gut. If it feels wrong, it probably is.
Managing social media is a big job. So if you are trying to take this on by yourself and are new to social media, we can provide as little or as much as help as you need.