The global pandemic caused by COVID-19 has resulted in a lot of immediate changes. Some, such as wearing a mask in public, are unexpected and unwanted but necessary disruptions. Others, though, are merely accelerations of trends that were already in place, like the rapid growth of social networks.
In our new age of social distancing, where we are required to physically separate ourselves and every concert, sporting event, and conference for the foreseeable future has been indefinitely postponed, online connectivity is an even greater lifeline.
As could be expected, analytics reporting for all the major social networks is way up.
Desperate for Social Connection
Facebook-owned WhatsApp usage has surged 40-percent, according to Kantar Media, and is seeing even higher figures in areas hardest hit by the coronavirus (usage in Spain is up 76-percent). Facebook and Instagram use is also up over 40-percent among 18 to 34-year-olds.
“In our new age of social distancing, online connectivity is an even greater lifeline.”
TikTok was gaining momentum on its biggest competitor, Snapchat, before the outbreak, and that trend continues, with an 18.5-percent increase in interest in March. Twitter, a source for both human connection and breaking news, saw a 15-percent increase in search interest during that period.
Social media was a smart part of every modern brand’s marketing mix before the pandemic. But with a world stuck at home and social network engagement rising, it’s an absolute prerequisite.
Social media’s impact on marketing (and just about every other industry) is growing at an almost unfathomable speed. Mark Zuckerberg helped start the revolution from his dorm room over a decade ago, and by 2019, total marketing spend on social media in the U.S. hit nearly $12 billion.
“Facebook-owned WhatsApp usage has surged 40-percent, and is seeing even higher figures in areas hardest hit by the coronavirus”
Eighty percent of marketing executives across an array of industries told a Gartner poll that their companies were planning on investing in paid advertising programs on social media. However, paid campaigns are only part of the picture. According to Jay Wilson, Gartner’s social media research director, “Successful social marketers going forward will not just view social as an advertising channel only, but they will find the right balance between paid versus organic and advocacy efforts.”
Social media’s marketing potential is undeniable. The only question is how to maximize its potential and synergistically incorporate it into a cohesive omnichannel strategy. That may sound daunting, but thankfully there are some good tools at your disposal to help plan, transmit, and analyze your social media postings across platforms.
Social media is going on 24/7, but the real world’s schedule does intrude in ways. There are optimal posting times for every brand and post type. Tweets, for example, often go later into the evening than LinkedIn posts, and fashion brands post more often at the end of the week.
Take a look at our in-depth guide to social media timing for more details.
Ok, so you’ve got their ear, now what? Bring something to the conversation. Everyone seems to have their own theory as to what engages audiences, but two themes appear over and over: Relevancy and Authenticity.
Relevancy means communicating something that your audience would enjoy. It can be information that will help them, a promotion that they would like to take part in, a simple distraction or bit of comic relief to brighten their day, and during these challenging times, any ray of hope is especially welcomed.
Authenticity is of newer importance. Millennials, in particular, are become well known for demanding their brands operate in a transparent manner that is consistent with their values.
It’s important to always remember the interactive nature of social media. Marketers have long striven to ‘create a dialogue’ with their audience. Until now they were mostly speaking metaphorically. With social media the conversation is as direct as it gets.
Social media is quickly becoming ground zero for customer service. If someone isn’t happy with your product and makes their dissatisfaction known via tweet, the whole world gets to listen in. This is your chance to make a good impression by listening to their concerns and taking the appropriate action in response. At this sensitive moment, brands that are helping the fight against COVID-19 are winning mindshare and cultivating lasting relationships with their audience. Brands that aren’t, or worse, appear to be capitalizing on the crisis, risk public shaming and diminished credibility.
All this data being transmitted back and forth isn’t just floating away into the ether. It’s right there at your fingertips to be studied. You can track engagement levels via clicks, shares, views, etc. and adjust your content to grow your network. There are also a plethora of tools to track keywords and hashtags that your content is associated with, as well as influencers who are sharing it.
The sector is evolving rapidly, but the most popular social media management products right now are Buffer, Hootsuite, Sprout Social, AgoraPulse, and Zoho Social. Prices range from $10-50 monthly for small business plans up to the thousands for enterprise solutions.
The New Normal
It’s the nature of all new technologies to move from innovators to early adopters and eventually into the mainstream. Social media’s days as a niche amusement are dwindling. Facebook, LinkedIn, and the like are already big business and their continued growth is only being accelerated by the current health crisis. Make sure your brand is effectively but strategically investing in this vital touchpoint with your audience.