Weathering the Storm and Winning!

What are brands doing to stay relevant?

We’re living in unprecedented times as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. The way we work (remotely), the way we live, the way we shop, and the way we communicate are all becoming the new reality.

Let’s face it. We’re dealing with the greatest disruption of our lifetimes, and yet somehow, we are getting used to it. Scary thought? Not really.

Disruption is not all that bad. Interestingly, it’s challenging us to take a good hard look at ourselves – to question our own behaviors, interactions and societal structures. Are we spending too much, are we guilty of waste, are we doing enough to save our planet from the harsh realities of climate change? The list goes on.

In the current crisis, we are already shifting our mindset, in more ways than one. When it comes to branding and marketing, consumers are becoming more open to e-commerce platforms and transactions – out of necessity and brushing off concerns of privacy and security issues. While some are trying digital channels for the very first time, others are realizing the sheer convenience and efficiency of working and shopping online.

So, what are brands doing to stay visible and relevant? How can brands leverage the new normal to better engage with customers?

Social Media 24/7

Undeniably, almost all of us spend hours and hours indoors and online, more than ever before. We are discovering the virtues of social networks – for entertainment, catching up on the latest news, socializing, or just to pass time. No wonder, social media is seeing a spike in usage!

Facebook, for example, is leading the surge and is experiencing an “unprecedented increase in the consumption of news articles”. More brands are looking to social media platforms to advertise, market, and reach audiences to provide the ultimate customer experience.

flixedstudy-facebookFlixed’s COVID-19 Media Diet Survey on Top Platforms for COVID-19 News

If you’re still going “hmmmmm”, here are some tips to get you started.

1. Sense the tone

Start researching your audience by looking at what they’re looking at! Do a search on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc., to figure out their expectations from your brand and services, as well as the content they’re likely to be interested in. Check out posts from peers and competitors. What’s the noise about? How are they responding to the new normal in terms of business practices and messaging?

2. Research on context

How far off are we in this crisis? Every country is tackling the virus unique to its circumstances while the basic self-isolation and social distancing measures remain in force. Do not confuse your customers or audience with the wrong messaging or content during this period. You’ll have to make sure that your messaging and actions do not contradict and are in line with government policy. In fact, brands should step up and work in tandem with all efforts to help everyone cope and adapt to the new normal.

Hotels.com-captainobviousHotels.com’s COVID-19 online campaign of their Captain Obvious Mascot

3. Get your messaging right

According to Kantar’s recent survey on consumer expectations, consumers trust brands that go above and beyond when dealing with crises. Your messaging should not purely be based on marketing. Brands and businesses must aspire to reinforce positive messages and encourage customers to do their part to keep the country and people safe. Brands should lead by example and be responsible for the way they conduct their business.

Brands in the tourism and aviation industry seem to be the hardest hit since the outbreak. Emirates Airlines is one shining example that has adjusted their tone and content, and in the process, gained millions of positive reactions to their Facebook and Instagram posts. Experts predict Emirates’ popularity to soar even further in a post-COVID-19 future with a loyal pool of customers.

emirates-worldhealthdayEmirate Airlines’ Instagram post to thank and appreciate the healthcare workers on World Health Day.

4. Choose your medium

Once you’ve done your research, the next thing to work on is choosing the right medium. Facebook and Twitter have become the go-to sources for real-time information. Instagram stories have seen a 15 percent increase in usage since the outbreak. TikTok has moved up the ranks, registering a record of 6.2 million downloads in March, a 27 percent increase compared to February. Between #DontRushChallenge, “Bored in the House” song, and #DistanceDance, these TikTok videos are a force to be reckoned with.

Each social media platform appeals to a slightly different audience, Facebook and Twitter inform, Instagram communicate and entertain while TikTok is popular with the young and encourages action. It also depends on your content and messaging, and how these fit with the distinct tone and format, i.e. video, image, or just a text post.

tiktok-boredinthehouseOver 800 thousand videos featuring Curtis Roach’s song “Bored in the house” on TikTok

Changing our Ways

From panic buying, self-isolation to lockdowns, we are witnessing changes in human behavior. The panic and uncertainty we face at this time are showing a different side to people and the society we live in. Some are scared, others are emotional. On the bright side, we also recognize in awe, how people are coming together and inspiring others with acts of kindness, sacrifice and sincerity.

We’ve Got the Power

In combating negativity, fake news and misinformation across social media, brands must stay vigilant and responsible, especially when it comes to messaging, to build trust and loyalty. In these uncertain times, people look to brands, not only as information sources but as true pillars of society. By contributing positively to a social media presence that’s sincere and caring, we’re well on our way to weathering the storm with greater vigor and hope for the future. Together we can!

Written by: Ummi Syafiqah Amran

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