The Week Ahead: What to Do
1. Articulate your brand’s social role during each phase of the pandemic.
2. Give your social listening a tune-up.
- Focus on listening that informs short-term actions: Because ever-changing media and government mentions influence much of the social content reaching audiences, listening to shape future programming has little utility. Look at the most valuable data today which helps inform communications decisions for the next few days – not for programs planned for weeks away.
- Examine non-Coronavirus conversation too: Much of the conversation happening on social is about COVID-19 but may not mention the virus directly. Those indirect conversations will be helpful and give you more insight into the struggles or interests of stakeholders now.
- Go beyond social discussions: Consider using search and web traffic trends to help you understand what your customers are thinking about and what they want to know. Use this information to inform and validate planned and opportunistic content.
- Think regional: Given the virus is currently sparking more significant action and regulation in U.S. coastal cities and urban centers, discussions in these markets will vary dramatically with what people are talking about in more rural or non-coastal communities. Use regional filters to help understand the differences and don’t assume one message will work for all audiences everywhere.
- Embrace Native Search: Viral content related to COVID-19 is already showing up on channels that are more private in nature, therefore don’t assume listening will capture everything that’s generating engagement. Do more native platform-level searches and consider creative ways to analyze TikTok content.
- Don’t Analyze the Internet: When social listening for conversations around COVID-19 that could be helpful to your brand, start with a research question or a key area of interest for your brand. Don’t use social listening to tell you what to care about, use it to focus on specific areas of interests or to validate hunches about audiences, relevant content themes, etc.
3. Give credit where credit is due.
4. Retool influencer marketing plans.
- Many influencers have pivoted to entertaining their audiences through live streaming, sharing what they are doing at home for themselves and with their families.
- Influencers are sharing affiliate links to products they are using in their “quarantine kits” or even sharing their outfits on sale (e.g. Nordstrom) to maintain their regular content. With followers even asking to support them through their affiliate links.
- Brands like Chipotle are activating influencers in new ways like their partnership with Zoom and ex-bachelor contestant Colton Underwood in which they shared promo codes through “Together Hangouts.”
- Influencers are openly talking about COVID-19 and sharing their firsthand experiences getting tested, including Arielle Charnas (tested positive) and Camillestyles (tested negative).
- Consumers are calling influencers out for sharing inaccurate information. For example, ex-Bachelor contestant Krystal Nielson suggesting a detox can protect you from COVID-19.
- More consumers have tuned in to esports (up 75% this week) and streamers as sports have gone on hiatus, introducing new opportunities for brand integrations, product placement and sponsorship.
- TikTok continues to boom and maintain its humanized, humor-driven content. TikTok challenges like #safehands use fun consumer and influencer videos to spread a serious and important message.
- YouTube has changed its previous policy to demonetize all COVID-19-related videos and will enable ads on a limited number of channels of creators sharing accurate information.
- A recent Mavrck survey polled 254 influencers and found that only 25% of influencers have decreased their presence on social media in response to COVID-19
- IZEA conducted a survey with 949 US internet users centered on consumer behaviors during COVID-19 and found that 66% of participants’ social media consumption would increase with YouTube, Facebook and Instagram being the main drivers.
- ·When suspending or delaying campaigns, consult agency/brand legal department to review and/or update terms for contracts already in place. Be ready to negotiate with the influencer on payment, as they will likely seek compensation for work completed. To maintain a positive relationship with the influencer, consider partial payment now and fulfill the rest later during the campaign. Remember – this too shall pass and it’s critical not to sever relationships which may be important for the future.
- When proceeding with and planning campaigns, be mindful of the current and potential future cultural context related to the pandemic and adjust messaging accordingly:
- Do not overtly sell or promote products, such as directly driving trial offers or in-store experiences. Instead, frame relevant messages in terms of the help your brand delivers to consumers.
- Do not encourage risky behavior (e.g. gathering in groups)
- Keep the context of what’s happening in the world at the forefront; contributing to the greater good with themes that center on uplifting touch points and no overt brand pushes.
- Many audiences crave educational and entertaining content now and are receptive to longer-form narratives. While short is usually sweet in social media, be more willing to offer deeper content.
- Vet prospective influencers for past controversial comments, backlash for other ads posted, and their reputation for authenticity and transparency.
- Include a clause in contracts for flexibility should COVID-19 problems escalate or continue.
- Take extra care to be thoughtful, respectful and kind when engaging with influencers as many are seeing their personal livelihood drastically affected.
- Expect to see influencers offering lower rates, but do not exploit them. Be fair.
- When organically engaging influencers through ongoing social engagement programs or proactive efforts:
- Continue to reward loyal brand fans through positive social conversation.
- Be careful with brand mailers to celebrities, SMEs or other influencers right now. The best practice is to confirm with the individual their willingness to accept a delivery before proceeding given sensitivities about receiving things in homes. We recommend suspending surprise and delight activations for at least the next week.
- If influencer activities are put on hold, consider shifting to amplify more organic user-generated content and positive brand-related stories from consumers. Stories of “real people” are particularly heart-warming right now.
5. Go all in on virtual experiences.
- Use Video. To make people feel like they’re all at the “same” meeting, use video conferencing rather than traditional conference dial-ins. Technology helps to personalize the conversation and to keep participants engaged.
- Always provide an audio dial-in option. Video conferencing can work very well, but it relies on a strong internet connection that may not always be available. People need the ability to participate via audio, but make it clear that video-first is the new norm.
- Minimize presentation length. The only thing worse than a long presentation in person is a long presentation during a virtual meeting. Meetings should be discussions. Background information should be provided beforehand. If someone needs to present, use screen sharing to guide the conversation, so attendees can literally “be on the same page.” But prioritize conversation to maximize the time people are looking at each other. Consider shorter bursts of discussion with more frequent breaks for virtual attendees.
- Assign a facilitator. It’s usually harder to manage a virtual discussion than an in-person one. It can be helpful to assign one individual to guide the conversation, allowing the other participants to focus on the content. The facilitator can also use a polling system to “take the pulse” of the group on certain questions and ensure that all voices are heard. The facilitator should also be able to resolve basic questions on the technology being used.
And while scheduled virtual events can bring together the right people at the same time, some experiences are better delivered on an individual’s time and terms – enter AR world effects and lenses. Embedded as part of your brand’s app, added to your website, or delivered on platforms like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, aspects of your planned real-world event or product experience can be recreated virtually for users to enjoy when they want, in the safety of their own homes. Though platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat struggled to deliver quick approvals for AR experiences last week, we expect them to be ready for the increased demands of brands relying on AR to replace real-world experiences.