Do The Right Thing: The Role Of Social In COVID-19

Special Reports

If this period has taught us anything it’s that people want to help however they can. On both a local and global scale, people are showing up for each other – just look at everyone wishing Owen a happy 101st. Many brands are doing the same; retailers are moving outside their remit to create tools for healthcare heroes and funds are being established to help those vulnerable at this time. However, numerous brands are finding it difficult to figure out how they fit into the new routine that we’ve all been forced to accept.

We’ve taken a global approach to uncovering best practices for brands on social media at this time, looking at countries further ahead in the cycle than us to ensure we know how best to tackle what’s coming. We’ve delved into case studies from across the globe to discover how communities are behaving and, most importantly, how they’re helping. You’ll find all the details in our full report here but keep reading for an overview of our main steps to navigating the crisis.

Step one: Your community needs you

We’re apart, but we’re closer than ever. You’ve no doubt read this statement or an iteration of it countless times, but that doesn’t make it any less true. We now form this “community of sufferers” and we need to support each other now more than ever. 

Brands must be mindful of this; listen first, act second, and monitor third. 

Social listening shows that new communities are being created everywhere you look. Audiences are embracing organic content like never before while paid content is under review,  influencers can go where brands themselves might be too afraid to go right now, and emerging platforms are becoming mainstays in people’s everyday routine – the World Health Organisation now has 1.2 million followers on TikTok. Figure out how you can make this ‘new normal’ work for you.

Monitoring is extremely important; brands like McDonald’s have run into trouble when they’ve acted without taking heed of what their community is saying. The separation of the McDonald’s ‘M’ was seen as an empty deed with nothing substantial backing it up.

Step two: Hit reset
This period is effectively a cultural reset and everyone is attempting to find out what works. Take a pause and reflect on what’s important to your business, then act accordingly. 

Break things down into doable actions – tune into your community, set up a newsroom, make a content plan – and tick them off one by one. We’ve given you a tick box of 11 things you can do right now, featuring small tasks that help you build the bigger picture for your brand. 

Step three: Navigate the crisis
You need to establish where you are within the cycle of a crisis of this scale. Once you’ve done this you can understand what your community needs. See below for Canvas 8’s model illustrating the stages of a crisis. You’ll then see where your brand fits in each stage.

Brands are being looked at to provide clear guidance. In the denial stage, they need to get behind the ‘stay at home’ messaging and do whatever they can to spread it. Mobile phone operators really got this message across, foregoing their branding and changing the text in that space to spread the word.

It’s also crucial that we look to how those further ahead in the cycle have dealt with the later stages. Help ease anxiety brought about by the crisis by following in the footsteps of brands like Chinese beauty retailer Lin Qingxuan, who re-trained their staff to become online influencers rather than lay them off. 

Adjust your content. Embrace ways of adding positivity to your followers’ lives and bringing experiences directly into their homes. Teach them a new skill via Instagram Live, like Lizzo and her guided meditation, encourage creative UGC, like the Getty Museum, or utilize AR experiences.

Step four: Getting content right
The main issue brands are facing here is avoiding looking opportunistic. To this, we say you have to acknowledge the situation; you can’t just continue as normal, because things aren’t normal. Acknowledge what’s happening but don’t give the pandemic as a reason to try your product and don’t use opportunistic paid placements or geotargeting. 

Influencers will play a vital role in helping brands to avoid looking out of touch at this time. They are connecting with communities through every stage of the crisis and bring that much-needed sense of humanity, especially to larger corporations. So, open your brand up to work with people outside of your usual roster, this way you can address the new requirements for your audience. For example, luxury fashion blogger, Caroline Daur, who in the past has worked with brands like Fendi, Dior and Valentino, has diversified her offering to match what her followers need right now. Where she once shared street style images outside Parisian bistros, she now posts home workout videos. Thus, has opened herself up to a different set of brand partnerships. 

Click here to view the full report.

We’re all going to have to be humble during this period. We’re going to have to be creative, hopeful, think outside the box, and keep listening to what our communities need. As well as listening we need to keep engaging these communities rather than going quiet; this will help your brand emerge stronger from the crisis. Furthermore, while planning for the short-term is important, we also need to remember that this situation isn’t permanent, and brands should start thinking and planning for the different stages of the crisis ahead of them. As the situation unfolds we are helping brands keep pace with our new weekly “In Lockdown” content series examining how COVID-19 is impacting different industry sectors. So, please keep your eyes out for that and get in touch with us with any questions.

Stay safe.