Adapting Social Media in a Covid-19 World

Written by Maree Rigney

In recent years the focus on advertising, increase in cyberbullies and incidents of invasive data collection has taken its toll on many social media platforms, impacting growth and audience engagement.

In the face of Covid-19, social media has offered many a connection with friends and family, a sense of familiarity and comfort   – and offered users throughout the globe the opportunity to feel a part of something while they were stuck at home.

A Kantar Study of 30 markets in April 2020 showed that messaging on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp had increased by 50% and there were 23% more daily users on Twitter than the same period in 2019.

Businesses have also found renewed value in online platforms as they prioritise the connection that these platforms initially offered us over conversions. And behind the scenes, many platforms are also changing tactics and beginning to rise to the occasion as the fall-out from fake news grows too big for networks to ignore. 

Over the past months, we’ve been helping our clients to navigate social media through Covid-19 and the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business. Here are some of our key take outs:

Community Spirit
In these turbulent times, the sales message has been softened and the focus turned to supporting the community. Purpose-driven campaigns have always been good for business, but as a result of COVID, brands really feel like it’s the right thing to do now.

From the Feed the Heroes Fund-It campaign to RTE’s Home School Hub, organisations have been supporting frontline workers and pivoting to offer supports throughout the community. Everyone needs a little help during this period, whether it is very clear information or ways to keep the kids entertained.

Curation vs Creation
While not every social media post needs to reference the current climate, all online activity should be sensitive to what is a difficult time for many. Key to this is posting thoughtful, relevant content whenever possible and giving your followers a chance to connect with your brand and with each other as we continue to socially distance. 

One thing many people have more of is time, so online content that educates or enriches our lives in some way is ideal right now. Encouraging people to recreate brands or experiences at home has also become popular during the lockdown, for example Ikea’s famous meatball recipe guide which mirrored the instructions for assembling flat-pack furniture.

As we move forward, however, it is key that you continually monitor and listen to your online audience; reviewing and adapting content according to the changes in our home, work and social lives. 

Corporate Considerations
While social media platforms offer enhanced engagement with brand audiences, they also have the capacity to magnify a crisis. 

In these challenging times, many organisations have focused on operations (and rightly so) but communications strategies should not be forgotten. With businesses reopening and the forecasted economic instability, it is more vital than ever that communication is clear and carefully managed with all stakeholders. Audiences that have more time at home are even more tuned in and likely to criticise brands who put a foot wrong during this period.

Online Road to Recovery 
At the risk of appearing irrelevant or insensitive, many above the line campaigns have been put on hold. Social media channels offer brands a platform for sharing information directly with their community in real time.

As we navigate this new post-Covid world, social media content can bridge the gap and enable brands to subtly engage with customers.

This period of time is uncharted territory for us all but a re-steering of social media can allow businesses and brands to be more relatable and connect to consumers on a different level.

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