At the start of the pandemic, everyone was online.
And we’re not just saying that.
For 2020, online traffic was 24% higher than it is now for the same month. Daily use of social media increased for 4 in 10 internet users globally, and apps that prioritised video and audio saw a marked jump in their popularity.
With a sizable portion of the world’s consumers captive, it should have been a golden era for brand communication.
The reality was different.
Brands did capitalise on the benefits of having an audience that couldn’t escape advertising – but it didn’t always work out. They had to tread carefully to make sure that the audience they were speaking to didn’t turn away from the ads they’d taken time to put together; that those ads struck home, and turned into profit.
A year ago, we wrote our eBook on how brands could do that (psst! it’s free – take a look!).
A year later, we’re taking a look at what we wrote and seeing how it’s changed.
Social Media: General
In 2020, we finished off our social media chapter with the following tips:
- Your tone needs to be relevant to the situation – show empathy and awareness.
- Get creative. Look for alternative ways to create value for your customers, to support and educate them, whether it’s about your industry or the current situation.
- Quality over quantity – don’t let your brand speak because it wants to say something. Your brand need only speak when it actually has something to say.
- Be relevant but not necessarily by speaking about the current situation. Everyone else is doing that. Be empathetic but also original.
- Engage with your audience by asking for direct feedback. Uncertain times are no time for broadcasts, they are times for active conversation.
In 2021, we say:
The more we get into the days after the initial pandemic panic, the more we’re starting to see that COVID-19 didn’t exactly break the mold on communicating and advertising: it just brought to light what we always knew all along.
The tips that we wrote in 2020 hold value today, they’ll hold value tomorrow, and they’ll hold value a hundred years from now.
People are obsessed with social media.
It’s where they go, whether it’s to look for news, follow their favourite celebrity, or dig up something to form an opinion on. For brands, this is a good thing: an audience on social media is an audience you can track, analyse, and monetise.
But you need to know how to hold onto that audience first.
And to hold onto that audience, you need to be human. Your social media needs to be human. Your brand needs to be human.
You need to be human.
Social Media: Strategies
In 2020, we wrote:
Should I change my social media strategy? Yes, but let’s pick that apart. Firstly, no matter what product you’re selling, you should definitely take the time to look through your editorial calendar for the next few months, and make sure that your subject matter is constantly realigned with current realities and that there is empathy and compassion in your tone going forward. Anything that might sound tonedeaf can and will bring you the backlash that you definitely don’t need at this time.
In 2021, we’re saying:
That still holds true. You need an editorial calendar to make the most of social media – it’s not a ‘post something off the top of your head’ kind of medium any more. Social media takes planning, careful analysis, and tweaking to make it profitable and successful. Are there brands that get away with no planning? Sure. But the chances of you being one of those brands are small and growing smaller as a fed-up population uses their tiny amount of power where it matters most – on brands.
As for if you should change your social media strategy – is it working for you? Are you happy with the way your socials are running? Can it be better? We’re personally a fan of changing your social media strategy until you’re sure it can’t get better. That can mean anything, depending on the brand you have.
CASE STUDY: Google’s ‘Get Back to What You Love’ came a little bit out of the left field if you weren’t aware of their COVID-19 advertising campaign, but if you’re a fan of how Google tells its stories, you’ll notice what we’re about to tell you – the strategy is a work of art. Google’s perfected the understated narrative, and going back to their pandemic ‘search bar’-style advert was the perfect duological loop to enter into the next phase of their pandemic marketing.
Social media: Content
In 2020, we wrote:
Get creative! How can you create value online? Can you take your knowledge and teach? Can you offer product reviews? Can you start live video broadcasts
with Q&As? Can you find ways to educate your audience about your field? The goal is to add more individual, customised value versus what someone could find online themselves.
Whatever you do, don’t stop talking, otherwise you’ll be forgotten. However, remember that your content has to be in context with where your audience is. If your audience’s house is on fire, now isn’t the time to educate them on fire safety.
In 2021, we’re saying:
Creativity is still relevant. Creativity is always going to be relevant. People are so used to passive, low-effort posts that having a post that gives them something to think about will reach through the screen and grab their attention. Additionally, people love free content. Giving them valuable content – based on what you can teach, what you can do, what you can give – is one of the best ways to build a relationship with your audience that lasts.
This doesn’t mean you should take over everyone’s feeds constantly. You need laser-precision. You need to know when to post what you’re posting so that it intersects with your audience’s life, not gives them another choice to make: listen to you, or keep doing what you’re doing?
You need to talk. You need to make that conversation matter. And you need to make the content of that conversation relevant.
This hasn’t changed post-pandemic.
It just showed us how important it is.
CASE STUDY: Extra’s ‘For When It’s Time’ made the rounds way back when it came out, and even within our agency, it’s controversial: people found it gross, people found it genius, people loved the direction, people thought it was overblown. Love it or hate it, you have to admit: it’s eye-catching, it’s funny, and it’s creative. That makes it memorable. And when something is memorable, you’ve hooked an audience into listening to you, seeing what you’re going to get up to next, and following what you do in the hopes they’ll see more of what makes them laugh.
Social Media: Community
In 2020, we wrote:
During a time of uncertainty, people look for support and reassurance whilst trying to adapt to a new way of living, communicating and working. They will be turning to online communities for this purpose. Facebook Groups provide fertile ground for long-lasting connections with your audience, especially at a time of uncertainty.
In 2021, we’re saying:
Facebook groups are amazing – if you’re willing to spend some time building a community there. Though people are spending less time online than they were during the pandemic, those connections that they’ve brokered – with brands, with each other – will last through that, so if you’ve spent time building those connections, here’s our advice: keep them going. An audience that feels for your brand the same way they feel for their friends is fundamental to make it on social media.
CASE STUDY: Guinness’ advertising consistently rated highly among people who watched them, whether it’s because they follow the brand directly on social media or were directed to it, and this is why. Even if you’re not a Guinness drinker, ‘Welcome Back’ makes you a part of the fold, gives you a reason to feel like you belong. That’s powerful. Profit is never going to stand in for community, and Guinness shows us why.
Social Media: What’s Changed?
We said at the start that COVID-19 didn’t change social media; it just made us more aware of what it actually means to use it. To start a social media account and make it work for you takes time.
It takes patience and effort. It takes empathy. It takes the understanding that your brand is never going to go back to the days when it could advertise half off, and float on from year to year. Price is important; it’s no longer the only thing that’s important.
What your brand did, and didn’t do, when people needed it matters more. How your brand talks matters more.
In essence, nothing has changed about social media.
A lot has changed about the people who use it. It’s become more unforgiving, less likely to avoid disaster, and more likely to create problems for you if you don’t use it right.
We’re here to help.