A remarkable pandemic-authored condition
Don’t miss this chance to truly connect with your users.
The stay-at-home orders continue to shake-up every aspect of life including behaviors around social channel screen time. Your brand users and shoppers no longer go on-line. Instead they now live on-line. Kitchens, for their part, have become erstwhile home offices and educational centers to accommodate work and digitally-enabled classrooms for the kids.
- How are you responding to this development?
- How does his impact your social strategy?
- What moves are you making to fill the need and address the opportunity for engagement?
We will answer these questions shortly, but first a little texture on what’s happening.
The blurring between work, education and leisure has spawned a behavior shift – social channels have moved from an occasional choice to a routine necessity as people seek information – and guidance – and community – and social contact – and entertainment.
Has there ever been a time when your brand was presented with a near captive audience looking for useful content? The answer is unique to the pandemic, a historic first that is transforming life, health, commerce, time, attention and all the behaviors associated with it. This is precedent setting and now offers an unusual opportunity for brands and businesses to be of greater service and value, knowing that consumption of content is likely to be much higher and therefore more valuable than ever before.
- A recent survey from Tin Man showed social channel use had risen 50% by the close of April 2020. Sixty percent of the population is on Facebook at least once (or more) a day and 27% are in Instagram. Daily screen time averages are up 50 to 75%.
Frequency and media choice = positive outcome
According to a social media report from Co-Schedule, brands that publish 16 or more social posts a month got almost 3.5 times more traffic and 4.5 times more leads than businesses that publish less often. Further, we observe video takes on added importance as a business generating medium with 64% of viewers more likely to buy a product online after viewing.
Your optimal social strategy
First and foremost, this is not the time to withdraw, go silent, retreat or otherwise disappear from the social-verse. Yes, messaging strategy has changed but the fundamental desire of people to connect and a need for interaction has never been greater.
The litmus test of sound strategy in social media revolves around this axiom: the brand should live in service of improving the health, wellbeing and happiness of its users. Social channels are not just transactional environments – and especially at this time, shouldn’t be managed as such.
This isn’t the time and place for a consumer hard-sell and we’ve now entered an era where overt brand self-promotion doesn’t produce results anyway. Consumers hold all the engagement cards and have shown themselves quick to tune out when the narrative isn’t relevant to them and their lifestyle aspirations.
We are now doing business in The Relationship Economy, founded on reciprocity and usefulness.
In the same Co-Schedule report, 21 ‘best in class’ examples of great content were profiled revealing one common element that shown brightly through all of them. In every case, the best content provided valuable information, guidance, utility and direction to the readers.
The examples noted were devoid of a strict self-serving narrative, nor grounded in product feature/benefit selling. To ensure the brand stays on the right social content path, follow this guardrail to keep the messaging on course: recognize that the consumer and their needs are always the hero of your storytelling and the role of the brand is to serve as expert guide and coach. Context is everything!
Yes, it is ok to talk about the product or deliver information about a retail promotion, but this should be no more than 30% of your content calendar. Know that the best material you will create is going to be a reflection of the lifestyle needs and aspirations of the people who comprise your fan base.
- Glossier, a beauty product business built entirely on social channel engagement, is deservedly famous for creating content about their customers’ interests and needs first. They have become wildly successful as a result.
Social proof and community
Social channels are not one-way conversations. The most powerful asset you have is social proof – content created by your community that serves to verify and validate what you want people to believe about product benefits, shopping experiences or the lifestyle you advocate.
Testimonials are like gold. People will believe other people before they will ascribe credibility and truth to statements made by brands and businesses. It is important to encourage conversation, interaction, feedback and discourse from social community participants. You can do this by inviting it and asking questions.
- An example: people adore their pets and will jump at opportunities to talk about their personal and anecdotal stories around lifestyle experiences, recovery from illnesses, behavior training tips and ideas, and opportunities to share photos and videos of their four-legged family members.
Pandemic specific social content guidance
Consumer culture has changed as a result of this unprecedented event. It has altered preferences and mindset. Here are some points to consider in social content creation.
- An empathetic and more human voice is essential in the content you publish.
- As a general subject platform, health and wellness is the top concern for people now and thus relevant to the material you develop.
- People feel out of control of the world around them. Provide guidance and ideas that help them regain a sense of control. Taking charge of personal health and wellness is how to do it.
- Loss of confidence is a thing. Anything you can do to reassure people about the future and give them confidence about improvements in the road ahead will be welcomed.
- Your brand should be guided by a higher purpose (a mission that transcends commerce and selling things), deeper meaning and shared values with your consumer. Know this matters and they are paying closer attention to your words and actions.
It’s extraordinary that an event like this could alternatively create an environment where people spend so much extra time online and in social communities. People yearn for contact and guidance, information that provides hope and helps them navigate the incredible changes they have experienced. You are no longer just selling products and stocking merchandise, instead you are in the deeper meaning business and have a much more important role to play in your customers’ lives.
It’s an important calling and comes with responsibilities. That said, it brings forward a unique opportunity to form relationships with your fans and followers that will last well beyond the current crisis. Now is the time to upgrade, enhance and invest in social channel outreach.
Use this link to let us know if you need help building the right social channel strategy, and content that will inform and endear your users.
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Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent, The Healthy Living Agency. Traditional brand marketing often sidesteps more human qualities that can help consumers form an emotional bond. Yet brands yearn for authentic engagement, trust and a lasting relationship with their customers. Emergent helps brands erase ineffective self-promotion and replace it with clarity, honesty and deeper meaning in their customer relationships and communication. For more information, contact [email protected] and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.