Changing Your Marketing Playbook in Times of Crisis

stir agency milwaukee

STIR Staff

May 12

There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused serious disruption on a global scale, with many brands and companies left wondering how they can stay relevant and profitable in this time of crisis. As this shift occurs, we’re seeing a definitive rise in the use of social media to fill marketing gaps.

Recognize reality and showcase how you’re helping

Generally speaking, brands on social media are taking one of three approaches:

  1. The dead stop approach where they simply disappear. 
  2. The oblivious approach where their messaging seems tailored to a world where COVID 19 never happened.
  3. The reality approach where they step up and lean into the fact that things are simply different now.

Guess which one is actually resonating with people? Reality, of course. This approach helps humanize your brand, and even if you’re in an industry that has been forced to stop operations entirely, your customers will remember you when this crisis passes.

  • Clearly state on your social channels how this pandemic is effecting your business and the steps you’re taking to keep you workers and customers safe. Pin this post to the top of your page and provide a feedback loop so people can ask questions. 
  • If your company is donating to charities, offering discounts or giveaways to essential employees, or shifting gears to fill crucial voids, create posts about it. People want to know that you genuinely care, and they will applaud your efforts.
  • Engage with your employees on social media, publicly. Create posts that highlight the good works your employees are doing and recognize the sacrifices they’re making. Again, this helps communicate your brand’s humanity and lets your workers know that you really can’t do this without them.

Fill the event marketing void

Unfortunately, this crisis has led to the cancellation or rescheduling of many industry-related conferences, tradeshows and other marketing events. Many companies depend on these events to woo new customers, build relationships with existing ones and lead valuable thought-leadership discussions. Luckily, social media provides brands with the opportunity to replicate many of those elements in the virtual space and do it extremely cost-effectively. 

  • Share content with prospective customers and host webinars on hot topics in your industry. Customers everywhere are looking for ways to adjust to this new normal, so consider creating new content that speaks to how you can help them do that—or simply share free resources as an act of goodwill. 
  • Host networking sessions with your existing customers that you had planned to connect with at an industry event by using Facebook, LinkedIn Live or a meeting platform like Zoom. Promote these events ahead of time and leverage social advertising to reach people connected with the conference already.
  • Consider using a third-party tool like MyQuiz (trivia) or Karafun (Karaoke) to host virtual entertainment events for customers and/or prospects. In addition to being a fun networking tool, these events help give people an escape when they desperately need it and help endear people to your brand.

If you’re wondering how to target prospects and customers who you typically would have engaged with via event marketing, here are a few social media advertising tips:

  1. LinkedIn – Use Company and Group targeting to reach people connected with the company that hosts the conference/event. If you’re trying to reach specific partner or prospect companies, Company and Role targeting can help as well. In addition to paid efforts, post thought leadership content to group pages to let people know how your company is adapting.
  2. Twitter – Use Keyword targeting to reach people who have used the event’s hashtag in the past, and use Account targeting to reach people who are connected with the host company’s Twitter account. 
  3. Facebook – Build Saved Audiences of people connected to the host company or to the event itself (if it was featured on Facebook).

As the COVID-19 crisis and social distancing protocols continue to propel the trend towards digital marketing, brands will turn to social media to spread information quickly and engage with customers on a more personal level. However, this alone is not the silver bullet. Social media should be a gear in a larger digital machine. To stay agile and relevant in these trying times, companies must have the infrastructure and plan in place to reach people through multiple digital touchpoints. 

We invite you to take our free assessment to gauge where your company stands in this respect, or you can download our 10-step guide on how to Build a Marketing Machine.

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