By: NATALIE TOPALIAN Brand Apr 16, 2020 How to Modify Your Social Media Strategy Amidst COVID-19 This week, Event Garde and The Image Shoppe continued our five-part webinar series, Branding & Marketing Best Practices Amidst COVID-19, by diving into a subject that many folks from all industries are wondering about how to handle amidst this crisis: social media. More specifically, questions that business owners and social media managers may be wondering include: Is it okay for me to stick to my original content calendar? Are the topics I had mapped out for the year still relevant? Can I simply push back what I had planned for the coming months? Should I be posting ANYTHING right now? On Wednesday, April 15, Event Garde CEO Aaron Wolowiec and The Image Shoppe’s Rob McCarty, CEO, Zach Guy, Digital Account Manager, and Amanda Morton, Social Media Manager, met to answer all of these questions and more, regarding appropriate messaging for social channels, organic social posting tips, engagement ideas, and paid social strategy tips. Catch the replay below or read on to get the highlights of this episode. Messaging for Social Media We dove deep into this topic quite a bit during the first episode of this webinar series, but messaging on all channels—especially social media—is exceptionally important right now. Here are our main takeaways. Be intentional about ALL social content This goes beyond your social copy. Also consider the images, videos and articles you are sharing. Are they appropriate and relevant for today? It’s best to avoid photos featuring large crowds, people shaking hands or embracing, or working in offices. Still, choose your words carefully Remember, blanket statements like, "From the comfort of your home" and "We’re all in this together" may sound thoughtful on the surface, but really aren't omitting larger considerations. Not everyone’s home-office situation may be comfortable, and from a diversity, equity and inclusion standpoint, certain demographics are certainly not experiencing this pandemic in the same way as others. Lean on other content resources when needed If your brand is unable to create original content for social, share or repost resources from other industry leaders or trustworthy sources relevant to your brand or industry. This will allow you to still amplify the messages that do indeed need to cut through the noise to benefit your audience. Ask yourself, "Is this content unique? Does it add value?" If the answer to one or both of these statements is "no," then consider changing your messaging to fit more in line with your brand’s unique voice and tone, or forego the post altogether. Be genuine with what you’re posting This may sound like a no-brainer, but what you post really matters. Consumers are paying more attention now than ever to how brands are playing a part in their communities, as well as how they’re treating employees. One piece of advice from each of our panelists related to this point: Zach: Don’t fall into the allurement of leveraging the stimulus check through advertising in order to boost your business. It will be tempting to use statements like "use your stimulus check here" or "now that you've got a stimulus check, you can finally do [insert home improvement project here]". There are still people worried about food, shelter and medicine and your message could generate negative reactions. Aaron: Show authenticity through transparency. Nobody has all the answers right now. It’s okay to show you’re winging it! Amanda: Be mindful of who’s reading your content. Take note of their demographic info like age, gender identity and location. What topics are relevant to their needs? Rob: Be sensitive but still engaging! Prepare your future messaging Now is a great time to start thinking about your brand’s messaging for social (and all your channels!) What will you need to successfully reopen in the future, and, even more importantly, what will you be communicating to your audience? Following Aaron’s advice, be transparent with your audience. When the time comes, alert them on how you plan to keep your customers, employees and community safe and healthy. Implementing Organic Social Media Tactics Social Media Manager Amanda Morton recommends implementing the following tactics to your social strategy: Utilize brainstorming methods Take the time to work with your team (or yourself, if you’re a sole proprietor), to get all of your ideas out there—no holding back! Even ideas that seem silly upfront may spark a really great idea down the road. As Aaron put it, "Ask yourself, ‘What do our customers really want right now?’ And then make it happen!" Which leads us to our next point... Always consider your customers and employees first Being responsible for social posting for your brand, you should know your customer inside and out. Who are they? How old are they? Where do they live? What do they do for a living? And how might all of that be affected by COVID-19? Your social content should be accommodating to their needs in the current state. Burger King is a great example of a brand who has successfully modified their social strategy to fit their customers’ needs. By giving food to their employees to take home, sharing fun content like video demos on how to make a Whopper, and releasing specific programs for students, BK is authentically giving back to their customers, employees and community in thoughtful, inventive ways. Monetize your offerings, if you can Can you creatively monetize your current offerings, or new ones that your team develops through brainstorming? For example, if you’re a gym or boutique fitness studio, have you considered renting out equipment to your members? This may be a better solution than providing discounted online memberships, which may deter customers' willingness to pay higher rates again in the future. Ultimately, you want to provide long-term value for both your customers and your brand. This is an optimal time for LinkedIn Now is the best time to used LinkedIn or other networking sites, especially for business to business (B2B) brands. Most brands or individuals you may have been wanting to connect with likely have more time on their hands. Approach them with the ideas and value your brand would bring to the table. Social Media Engagement Ideas Here are some out-of-the-box ideas Amanda offered viewers to promote engagement on their social channels. These can be tailored to fit your individual brand and your audience’s needs. Entertainment packs Partner with other local organizations to create baskets or bundles for sale, which you can promote on social, or even host a giveaway. Competitions Open submissions for folks to participate in a competition—like trivia, quizzes, baking challenges, etc.—and have them virtually compete to see who reigns champion! Depending on the competition, your team can utilize tools like Facebook or Instagram Live, Zoom, or another webinar service. Livestream events Build a sense of community by live-streaming events, such as panel discussions, interviews, games, polls, or live performances. Kid/pet-friendly items and events If your target audience identifies as a parent, create downloadable items like coloring pages or brain teasers to occupy their kids so they can (hopefully) work more peacefully. You could even demonstrate how to DIY kid or pet toys at home to keep them busy. Implementing Paid Social Media Tactics Zach Guy rejoined the webinar for this episode to discuss paid social media tactics, which can apply to Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or whichever platforms you may be advertising. Consider the necessity of your ad Before you go about creating your ad materials, ask yourself, "How necessary is social media advertising for my brand right now?" Truthfully, paid social advertising is likely not as valuable in the current state for business to consumer (B2C) brands as it might be for B2B or business to government (B2G). Breaking through the noise isn’t the goal right now. Utilize refined ad targeting This is where knowing your target audience inside and out comes in handy. Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments and use geographical exclusions and inclusions based on those factors, depending on your industry. Exclude folks whose demographics will not benefit from your products or services, and get as specific as you can to include/target those who will benefit. This applies to email segmentation, as well. Rethink goals and conversion optimizations This ties into the previous point: tailor your social conversion optimizations to what impacts your organization most at this moment. You can always change them later. Perhaps your optimizations for phone call conversions need to change to web visits or landing page goals. Perhaps you're not looking for hits to your website in general and now you're moving it more toward once specific page, your COVID-19 information page. Rethink your goals and conversions not only to provide ROAS (return on ad spend) but also to optimize your spend and focus your budget where it's most effective. Sign up for Updates on Future Episodes! We've got two more episodes lined up for this webinar series. Visit Event Garde’s Events page to register for next week’s episode. Have a specific topic in mind you’d like us to cover, or a subject matter expert you’d like to see on the show? We’d love to hear your suggestions! Send your ideas to our copywriter Natalie Topalian, firstname.lastname@example.org.