It’s not surprising that people are spending more time on social media now. 47 percent of people surveyed by Global Web Index say they have been spending more time on social media. People have time on their hands and they are turning to social media not only to stay connected with friends and family but also to find out about news, to listen to music, to play games, to find entertainment and to share photos and videos with others.
While time spent on social media is increasing, some brands and businesses are using social media less. This may be due to concerns about the ability to trade or budgetary limitations, which is understandable given the economic impact the current global pandemic is having on a number of industries.
However, now is also a really important time for brands to be able to have a presence on social media and to engage the audience that they have spent time and money building. New Zealanders are open to seeing advertising messaging, whether that is COVID-19 related or normal messaging. In fact, 75 percent of New Zealanders are open to seeing brands running “normal” advertising campaigns. While there may be uncertainty around the ability to trade and budgets, people still want to hear from brands on social media.
The landscape right now reminds me of how we “did social” 10 years ago. There was no budget – we leveraged mostly organic activity on social, and our objective was simply to engage a social community and be helpful. We aimed to just keep the conversation going so when people were ready to buy from us, they would come to us because of a perceived relationship with the brand. I feel that this approach might be one that many brands could benefit from during this period of uncertainty and limited budgets.
I urge brands right now to keep the conversation going. While you might not be able to sell products through social media the way you used to, there is such a big opportunity for brands to use this time to engage audiences and build a connection so that when the time comes when people are out buying again, people are thinking of your brand.
Here are a few simple approaches to social that brands could explore right now
- Be helpful
People are looking for information. 98 percent of New Zealanders want to see brands share practical information and tips. Figure out what might be helpful to people right now as it relates to your brand and talk about it on social. If you’re an essential service, tell people how their experience with your service might be impacted right now. If you’re a fitness brand, give people resources they will find useful during this time. A great example of this is the brands who are showing their customers how they can enjoy versions of their favourite products at home. Les Mills have not only been sharing their online classes but also sharing helpful information about wellbeing during lockdown.
This is not a new strategy or revolutionary thinking. If people ask questions, answer them. Try starting a conversation. Have a goal of creating a conversation with a post rather than simply publishing content. Research by GlobalWebIndex tells us that people are more willing to share their opinions and engage in social conversations now as they have the time to do so (and because they are bored and seeking connection with others). Help create a platform for people to engage with others and your brand. Purina New Zealand were quick off the mark here and created a campaign to engage their audience by asking for people to share photos and videos of their pets while at the same time creating a space for interactive online lessons with leading pet experts.
- Build advocacy
If you’re not able to sell right now, use this time to encourage advocacy among your followers. How can you connect with your loyal advocates and what can you do to get them advocating for your brand and your social content? This is a really important strategy to explore for brands and businesses who might see a long-term impact of the global pandemic. Tourism-related business should be thinking about how they can keep the conversation going about their offerings. Tapping into people’s previous experiences and encouraging them to share on social is a good way to encourage advocacy and help inspire people for travel ideas for when people are ready to travel again.
People are craving entertainment. They are looking for things to keep them occupied. 97 percent of New Zealanders are open to seeing entertaining content from brands right now. What can you share via social media that will help ease boredom? BP New Zealand shared a neighbourhood scavenger hunt to keep people entertained. New World shared an Easter colouring template which people could download. Health and fitness influencers are sharing a lot of live content, classes and workouts. Musicians are doing live concerts via social. Get creative and think about how you can help keep people entertained in a way that is relevant to your brand.
- Learn about your audience
Take a bit of time to dig into those glorious insights about your social media audience. What type of content has typically resonated in the past? What are the questions you get asked all the time? What causes people to seek your brand out on social? Have a look at what has worked for you in the past and use these learnings to help inform your other organic activity.
Now is a great time to get back to basics on social media. Keep it simple, keep it relevant. Keep it going. It will be worthwhile in the long-run.
Article contributed by Bhavika Rambhai, Head of Social Media and Content Strategy at VMLY&R Auckland.