Businesses of all shapes and forms worldwide have been hit hard by the impact of COVID-19.
How has the pandemic affected consumer behavior and how have brands and social media platforms responded?
The online user behavior has shifted
Governments have implemented self quarantine measures nationwide to ease the spread of COVID-19. People staying at home means spending more time online.
Sprout Social says 11am daily is now the peak hour, while 5pm has shown a drop off as people working from home are also finding a balance between workload and family/home demands.
There has also been a rise in demand for food delivery services and furniture and office equipment as companies have shifted to a work-from-home scheme, research finds.
How are brands adjusting to these changes?
Brands are focusing on inspirational content
Companies are putting more effort on creating content with messaging of hope. Here are samples from some top brands:
A pledge to ‘stay at home and save lives’
Instagram has launched a new story sticker called “Stay Home” to promote social distancing.
(Photo from Twitter.com/Instagram)
Appreciation for health professionals and other first responders.
McDonald’s offers free coffee for all healthcare workers.
Kantar’s COVID-19 Barometer suggests that companies are expected to showcase initiatives in helping their employees.
Offshoring company Staff Domain helped their employees continue their work by providing equipment brought to their homes.
Companies/individuals showing how they have contribute to defeat COVID-19 through a fundraiser post.
Influencers in the beauty industry have collaborated remotely on YouTube for a cause.
Center for Disease Control in the US call for donations in Facebook
According to Sprout Social, brands have also increased their presence in direct message responses especially in the health care and media industries as these have become the top of mind during this time. Meanwhile, sports and travel industries have seen a massive decline in the number of posts due to restrictions in sporting events and tourism.
In the first few weeks of global quarantining, engagement rates were down across all industries. However, as of the beginning of May, engagement rates on Facebook and Instagram started rising again. Posting frequencies increased as marketers began to adjust to the new normal.
With users now spending more time online, brands must focus on the relationship-building aspect of social media, rather than heavily promoting their products and services, and take advantage of their audiences’ extra attention on the platforms.
Social Media platforms launching new features to support small businesses
As small businesses are facing challenges during the pandemic, social media platforms are finding ways to supporting them.
- Facebook introduced the Business Resource Hub which aims to keep small business owners informed of the ongoing crisis. They also rolled out the Facebook Shop to help businesses improve their user experience. Customers will easily browse through the products, add to cart and check out within the platform itself. Keeping in touch with customers is also made easy with Messenger, Insta Direct and WhatsApp for Business.
A sample of Facebook Shop from US-based small business, Ink Meets Paper.
(Image from Facebook)
Facebook Shops had been working on this Checkout feature for a while now, but expedited roll out to support e-commerce sites during the COVID-19 crisis. It’s currently being rolled out in the US and we’re looking forward to seeing it become available soon here in Australia.
- LinkedIn launched their own Coronavirus Resources Hub. It helps people find jobs, explore volunteer work and look for talent. It also started offering free or discounted webinars, learning courses and job postings.
- Twitter pushed up COVID-19 related news and updates in the Explore tab to prioritise the more important and relevant topics.
- Instagram launched a new way for people to easily discover and support these businesses through Stories with a ‘Support Small’ sticker. The platform also recently rolled out ‘Food Orders’ and ‘Gift Cards’. New stickers for Stories and Call-to-Action buttons that help restaurants showcase delivery options. Gift Up!, Neto, TheFork and Rise.ai are the available Gift Card partners in Australia.
Lord Lygon offers wine delivery.
Social media is playing a vital role to help support businesses by developing these resources keeping consumer trends top of mind. What do people need now more than ever? What are the things they are most worried about? How can they do their part to help those who are in need?
At the end of the day, we all have one common goal: to support each other when times are tough.
How has COVID-19 affected your business’ marketing efforts? What adjustments are you making to cope with the current crisis we all face? Let us know!