In the past few months, COVID-19 has drastically shaped the way we’re living our lives. From how we work to how we communicate and connect with others, our worlds have been flipped upside down in a sense. So it’s no surprise that this affects the way we use social media as well.
People are spending more time indoors than ever before. Work commutes are a thing of the past, and say goodbye to the weekend feeling like an actual week-end. So, what has that done to the daily intake of social media? Are people really spending more time on their phones, or are they choosing to throw screen time out the window this summer and focus on being outdoors?
As a business with a social media marketing strategy, chances are you’re used to updating your marketing efforts to fit current trends and shifts in the market. But what do you do when these shifts are due to a never-been-seen-before monumental change in the entire world? It’s an uncertain path, but we’re here to walk through it with you with our best experiential research and advice.
You can use this article in tandem with your current social media marketing strategy to steer your brand in the right direction and connect with your audience in the right way post COVID-19. Think of our tips as a benchmark as you adjust your social strategy to push your social media presence into the best light possible!
Social Media Posting Times
Say goodbye to your old “best times to post” spreadsheet, because with all of the changes going on in everyone’s daily schedule, it’s time to make a new one. Staying home and safe also means spending time differently in the morning, evening, and on the weekends.
As we mentioned before, many people no longer have their morning routine, hour-long lunch break, or in-office work habits to focus on anymore. This has caused massive shifts in the hours people typically spend scrolling through their social media apps and engaging with brand content they enjoy.
According to recent studies done by Sprout Social, best posting times for brands have made massive shifts including both time and day. From what experiential research has shown, morning has now become the best time to reach your brand’s audience. With more time in the morning to relax and spend time in bed, people are more likely to take the opportunity to surf through their social media apps and catch your post bright and early.
While mornings are performing more actively than usual pre-COVID-19, after-work hours that used to perform well no longer are bringing in the same type of traffic. Since office hours have shifted and many workers are entirely working remote, the 5PM social media check-in is a thing of the past. Instead, these hours are now being spent as a break from screen time altogether.
Weekends have always been a tried and true “steer clear zone” when it comes to social posting. People are looking to spend their time off from work away from screens and connecting with others as much as possible. However, with the social landscape shifting so much from our time at home, you may find the lack of available activities and time away from home to be useful for your social media marketing campaign.
The Washington Post reports post-COVID-19 screen times as “through the roof” with weekly screen time averages for some skyrocketing over 100%. It’s no secret that many of us are finding ourselves with our noses buried in our phones more often these days, so you may have that much more of a chance of reaching your brand’s audience this summer.
Brand & Business Obligations
We’re all collectively facing a new normal. There are new guidelines for safety, new ways to communicate with others and live our daily lives, and new challenges we all must face as a community. Your brand and business cannot stay fixed in a world that is evolving to meet the new standard of normal.
This is the time to evaluate what your obligations are as a brand. What is your mission statement – and does it align with helping your customers stay safe and informed? Are you obligated to let your customers know what changes you’re making to ensure safety for all? Do you want to make a statement about the current state of affairs?
While this decision is entirely in your hands, research shows it’s best practice to approach your social media audience from a place of authenticity and support. Especially in times of crisis, brand transparency can help to not only comfort and assure your consumers, but also build up brand trust and loyalty that is highly sought after by many businesses. Chances are you’ve taken some precautions to make sure both your customers and your employees are staying safe and healthy – so why not open your brand up to sharing these changes?
We’ve seen so many great examples of brand messaging that talks about the obligation to put health first before purchases and in-store sales. While it is a tough time economically across the board right now, it’s essential to make your COVID-19 changes available to your customers. Not only does this convey your mission to keep people safe and healthy, it also informs them on what steps you’re taking to create a safer shopping experience for them. This could actually help you increase your conversions that may have been taking a dip when COVID-19 restrictions first happened.
The information you put into your social media statement is entirely dependent on your brand and your business, however here are a few tips that can help you cover your bases. If you have a brick and mortar store, you’ll want to let customers know the status of that store – opened or closed. If you’ve decided to open your store back up, include information about safety guidelines and hours of operation (many stores have decided to shift to limited hours or require customers to wear masks and stay distant at all times).
If you’re an online business only, you may want to include safety precautions taken at your shipping warehouse, behind the scenes with your staff, or anything else you may use that gathers employees. Many businesses are experiencing longer wait times for shipping and handling, so if this has affected your business you may want to let customers know a new expected delivery timespan. You can also include messaging that aligns with your state restrictions for businesses and brands if necessary.
With all of these unanticipated changes and new ways to run your business, you’ll have to expect an abundance of questions, comments, and concerns from your customers. Forbes recently outlined the customer experience in a post-COVID-19 world that gives a better perspective on what the average consumer is dealing with and looking for from now on. It helps brands understand where consumers are coming from, what they may need, and where you can take your brand and mission to provide both trust and support.
Messaging across Facebook has increased by 50% in countries hit hardest by the virus – including messaging to companies and brands. In addition, there also has been a 15-20% increase in daily posts from businesses trying to get messages across from consumers. This type of communication has directly helped increase customer communication in a way that seems authentic and helpful.
Being available to answer customer questions on social media whenever possible. To make things easier, you can consider putting an FAQ strictly for COVID-19 related questions on your social media accounts. You can also create canned responses directing your customers to this FAQ should they need something answered. This will help with the amount of messages coming through to your business.
With customer communication also comes customer engagement. On average, brands are seeing 44 more engagements per day via social platform. This means more opportunities for brands to directly communicate and interact with their audience in a way that promotes positive change and provides information. This also allows brands to really, actively listen to their customer concerns centered around COVID-19. While traditional brand engagement pre-COVID-19 involved a more strategic strategy to sell products, the current social landscape calls for more personal connection to help and secure customers. Help first, sell second!
For businesses focused on social media advertising to boost their website traffic and conversions this year in order to make up for lost time during quarantine, you’ll want to heavily monitor the copy and images you try to use within your campaigns,
Whether your brand is health and wellness focused or not, the copy you use could actually be flagged and restricted by Facebook’s new COVID-19 Advertising Policies. Since COVID-19 as a topic falls under guidelines that need account approval to run ads for, it’s important to make sure your ad campaigns steer clear of bringing up the subject altogether. Any ad copy that mentions the quarantine, staying at home, or staying safe and healthy could cause your ad to get flagged, which means manual review is necessary. With so many ads being flagged and restricted per day, this may mean your manual approval could take hours, days, or even a week.
This doesn’t just apply to feed ads, it also means in-stream and in-article ads too. Ads that appear before videos on Facebook or in between article content for monetization may take slightly longer for monetization approval. This means metrics, budget spend, and cpc can get interrupted as well. This is why it’s important to monitor ad content to minimize the chance of your ads being automatically flagged. No matter your industry, it can happen, so don’t brush off ad copy because you aren’t directly in the medical or healthy industries.
In order to get your ads out in a timely manner, make sure they’re reviewed and approved by someone on your team familiar with the new Facebook Advertising Policies. To deal with delayed manual review times, you may want to prepare more versions of ad copy and graphics than usual to have a better chance of your ads being approved and live on time.
If your brand is one that hasn’t yet dipped its toes into the world of influencer and affiliate marketing, now may actually be the best time to start. As more social media consumers are looking to connect from a distance any way they can, the need for more personal content is apparent – and brands can benefit from having as much “real and raw” generated content as possible.
As we’ve mentioned before in our blog on user-generated content, consumers are actually over two times more likely to perceive UGC as authentic compared to branded content created by a business. This is why it’s become more important than ever to emphasize authenticity through this more personal content. This real and raw content helps create a connection and a trust between consumers and the brands they love.
With brands getting more personal, you can expect to see your feed/grid image quality drop to a more “at-home photoshoot” style. Don’t worry – this is normal and consumers are looking for more of this style of content right now as opposed to higher quality product shoots. Since the emphasis on selling product has shifted, growing your social media profile should be at the forefront of your marketing strategy, which includes growing authentic content over stylized product images.
In addition to a heavier call for influencer marketing, affiliate marketing has also seen an increase in consumer activity depending on industry. Health, entertainment, and medical industries have seen increases in their affiliate offer recipients while gyms, education services, and more have seen a decrease. Affiliate codes are a great idea for businesses who are still open and looking to increase their conversions and/or discount offers. Many businesses have also seen their non-core products rising in popularity, so keep this in mind and check your product sales when creating your affiliate marketing codes and offers!
Keeping on top of information, updates, and trends during these uncertain times is vital if you want to keep your social media presence up and running this year. If you’re looking for more information on how to increase revenue for local businesses during COVID-19, check out our guide here.