2020 has been full of surprises, to say the least. People from all walks of life and all areas of the world have had their everyday lives disrupted by the pandemic, government politics, the Yemen humanitarian crisis, the Turkish femicide challenge, unexpected unemployment, and increasingly urgent calls from the Black Lives Matter movement to address systemic racism. As a result, our social media feeds are no longer curated with images that focus on showcasing only the “picture perfect” moments of our everyday lives.

Social media users have drastically changed their content to be raw, unfiltered and honest to stand in solidarity and support the growing movements that are happening right now. From a brand perspective, this forces you to immediately evaluate your content strategy to ditch the hard sale and avoid coming off as insensitive so you can better maintain customer relationships during a very unpredictable time. 

Being able to navigate through social media and “read the room” is important. Handling sensitive subjects inappropriately can have unforeseen consequences that cost you customer loyalty or even launch a PR crisis. As the months of social distancing and quarantining progress, things look less and less “normal” and you may find yourself asking: When can I start posting “regular” content? When will things go back to “normal”? Or is this the “new” normal? These are valid questions to ask, and we’re here to help you figure out how to adjust your social media content to the “new” normal and avoid burnout.

How Social Media Content Has Changed

If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that there’s an abundance of information circulating online, and it’s easy to feel bombarded by it as you scroll through social media. As content shifts to be less curated and more current, our personal feeds start to feel overloaded with more meaningful and purposeful content as social media users produce more content that supports the issues near and dear to their heart. As a result, brands must adjust their content strategy to match the new pain points of their consumers online.

Information is our most valuable commodity during the pandemic. It can also be overwhelming. It’s hard for brands to understand when to contribute to the dialogue surrounding current events because they don’t know if adding to the flood of content does more harm than good. This is especially true if the brand doesn’t have expertise in the subject. 

Nonetheless, social media users don’t want to support brands who are staying silent. For consumers, the silence speaks volumes. Social responsibility, the ethical framework that suggests that individuals and companies have a duty to act in the best interests of their environment and society as a whole, is the true key to building trust and connecting with your audience right now. Consumers are less interested in the hard sell and now more than ever want to see accountability and transparency about:

  • How is your brand connecting with and helping the community at this time?
  • What causes does your brand actively support?
  • How are you communicating  with your customer base about logistical changes caused by current issues and the pandemic?
  • What is your business doing to protect workers and keep customers safe during the pandemic?

For some brands, it can feel like changing your content strategy and  “picking a side” on certain issues is a death sentence for the business — but it doesn’t have to be that way. A little empathy goes a long way. Understanding how your target audiences’ feelings, needs and experiences have been affected by current events will help you create content that better aligns your brand with your audience on a deeper emotional level. Here are a few examples of how brands have successfully worked empathy into their content strategy:

AT&T and Social Responsibility

AT&T has done a really good job of shifting their content to showcase their social responsibility. Their new content strategy highlights the safety measures they’ve taken to keep workers and customers safe as they install internet services; explains how their team is giving back to local communities; showcases members of their diverse and inclusive company; and voices their advocacy against racial injustice and economic inequalities. Their content keeps followers informed and appeals to customer pain points to keep their current audience loyal and engaged, while also helping them attract a new generation of followers to maintain sustainable growth. 

Target in Full Support of a Movement

Target has made a clear and hard stand against racial inequality. All of their social media content has shifted to stand in solidarity with black families and people of color, who represent a large portion of their audience. 

Target has also been openly transparent about their efforts to support their local communities. They’ve invested $10 million to their long-standing partners like the African American Leadership forum, provided essential items such as baby formula, diapers, and medicine to those most in need, and dedicated 10,000 hours of pro-bono consulting services for BIPOC small business owners in the Twin Cities, where they’re headquartered. They have also teamed up with local nonprofits and organizations to give customers who participate in their loyalty program easy access to donate funds in support of social justice. 

Dunkin’ Donuts and Maintaining a More Neutral Stance

Dunkin’ Donuts has managed to keep their content strategy light and relatable by maintaining an open line of communication, providing frequent safety updates, paying it forward to their communities and front-line healthcare workers, and pushing out quick-witted, relatable copy and imagery that almost feels like “normal” content we would see pre-pandemic. Their content isn’t centered around an overly aggressive hard sell, and they’ve strategically incorporated user-generated content to showcase the ins and outs of their day to day business. 

Every brand is different, and what works for one won’t always work for another. Whatever approach you take to adjust your content, make sure it’s one that is genuine and realistic for you.

Navigating The “New” Normal

Content isn’t the only thing that has changed. With nowhere to go and no one to see, more people than ever are signing up for social media. As a result, users are spending more time online as a way to entertain themselves during quarantine lockdowns. Since March, social media usage in the US has increased by 24.1%. As stay-at-home orders are extended and people are unable to resume their normal day-to-day activities, they rely on the internet to help them stay connected, “window shop”, and pass the time. This makes social media prime real estate for brands to increase the platform visibility, engage with followers and set themselves apart from their competition. 

As users opt for more time online, brands are forced to make more of an effort to be active, engaging and consistent. At the same time, they must align their content with current consumer behaviors and seasonal buying trends. Vacation expenses and travel spending has shifted to gaming electronics, outdoor pools, and family board games. In April and May, consumers spent 51% more online than they normally would during these months. From a brand perspective, evaluating your customer pain points and being able to maintain empathy, compassion and authenticity with consistent content is the best way to connect with customers and organically drive sales during this time.

How to Avoid Social Media Burnout

It’s easy to find yourself uninspired and lethargic at a time like this. There’s a lot going on in the world, yet we’re physically stuck at home and limited on where we can go and who we can see. While the uncertainty and lack of stimulation can make it difficult to maintain your creativity, there are a few things you can do to reset:

  1. Get off the internet: Social media isn’t going anywhere. We may be stuck at home but that doesn’t mean you need to be stuck online. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the vanity of social media and the feeling of always being responsive and engaging. Maintain a work/life balance by setting boundaries while you are online. You can set a daily timer on your Instagram account that notifies you when you’ve spent x amount of time online so you know it’s time to log off for the day. Let yourself rest without feeling guilty for it.
  1. Mute followers: You can and should mute followers whose posts or stories are mentally draining to you. This way you maintain your following without feeling negatively impacted by their social media content.
  1. Turn off notifications: While this may not be ideal to do all the time, it’s okay to do this on certain days or the weekends to help you maintain a balance while working from home. It’s easy to let work merge into your homelife routine when they’re both happening in the same place. Enjoy your time at home by focusing on other self-care tasks that help you mentally rest and reset for the work day to come; your morale and creativity will be better for it.
  1. Invest in automated scheduling tools: Scheduling tools should be your best friend. They allow you to plan ahead, visually see what content is coming up, and prevent you from needing to actively log in every day to post content when you’re on the brink of burning out. A true win-win and a must for social media management and content planning. 
  1. Most Importantly, make time for self-care: Seriously. Add one self-care task to your to-do list for the day and make it a priority to get done. Cook, bake, dance in your living room, play with your dogs, exercise, work on your car, or play video games. Whatever it is that you like to do that helps you destress and get inspired, do it. 

Social media is becoming more and more of a necessity for brands to help them stay connected with their audience in the strangest of times. With the right approach and a sustainable strategy, it’s possible to make the most of your social media, adjust to the new normal, and thrive. If you’re looking for additional help elevating your social media strategy and getting a leg up on your competitors, the Studio team is here for you!