Social Media Marketing challenges during the pandemic

Simon Arseneau
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The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench in every industry on the planet, including marketing. Everyone from major marketing companies to social media influencers have had to adapt to the situation whether by changing their content or the way they deliver their information.

Let’s have a look at some of the impacts the pandemic has had on social media marketing over the past few months and how marketers reacted.

Brands have had to optimize their digital marketing campaigns faster

In the weeks following the pandemic, brands and businesses have had to accelerate their move to the digital marketing world. For example, the lockdowns have led to major changes in how women discover and shop for beauty products by pushing for more online activity.

As of June 15, 20 percent of cosmetics company l’Oréal’s revenues come from its own branded websites or online retailers such as Amazon and Walmart. In the first quarter to the end of March, the company’s ecommerce sales grew by 53 percent compared to a year earlier. Overall, l’Oréal has shifted advertising and marketing spending online, taking it to about 70 percent from 50 percent before the pandemic. (1)

Another acceleration is the phasing out of printed store flyers, which had already been on the decline before the pandemic. A growing number of shoppers across all demographics had been foregoing flyers and instead comparing competitor’s prices on their phones. Once the pandemic hit, many brands owned by Loblaw Companies Ltd. pulled their in-store flyers in response to concerns they could be a vehicle to spread the virus. The company then announced its plans to permanently stop producing paper flyers for several of its chains, and instead transition to the digital medium. (5)

If you are new to digital marketing, the team at EMPOWER will ensure you make a smooth transition during these uncertain times. If you already have an online presence, we will make sure all your online advertising is optimized.

Social Media influencers have had to change their content

One defining element of social media marketing has been social media influencers, which are people who advertise brands or products to the followers of their platforms. In 2019, the influencer marketing industry was worth around $6.5 bn, and almost half of marketers spent more than 20 percent of their budget on influencer posts. Businesses would pay influencers with more than a million followers $10,000 or more for a one-off post endorsing their product.

However, because of the pandemic, many influencers are being forced to switch their focus from growing their business to just surviving 2020’s economic downturn. Despite a surge in online viewership on platforms such as Instagram Live and Facebook Live during the pandemic, influencer’s pricing has dropped from 30 to 40 percent. (4)

In terms of content, influencers have had to change from their usual advertising and focus on the stay at home economy. The content consumers are looking for is content that lets them know what brands are doing to provide relief in their communities, whether it is donating food to hospitals or a portion of their profits to charities heavily impacted by the pandemic. What influencers need to be focusing on is devising videos on Instagram Stories with messaging that should be inspirational, from stay at home cooking and well-being to self-care with beauty brands. (3)

EMPOWER can help you find influencers who will humanise your brand while presenting your products and services to your target audience.

Do not be tone deaf to the situation

Something both brands and social media influencers must keep in mind during these stressful times is being sensitive to how the pandemic is affecting the less fortunate.

In the early weeks of the pandemic, some influencers in the United States used their positions of privilege and wealth to travel away from crowded urban areas for their safety. While that is understandable, it was also offensive to their millions of followers who could not afford to travel away or became unemployed because of the pandemic.

Seeing a wealthy influencer posting photos of their good time outdoors was enraging for many followers, leading some to even send death threats for what they saw as dangerous and insulting behaviour. Following the negative backlash, one influencer even lost her support from a major brand. (6)

Provide useful information or services during the pandemic

Instead of pretending things are business as usual, some big brands have positioned themselves as thought leaders within their markets, and others have become public service broadcasters. Some local and national brands have also used their platforms to show their appreciations for those working on the front lines. (8)

This does not mean consumers wants brands to stop advertising altogether. The majority wants them to keep publishing, that is if the brands are helping them in their daily lives, are informing them of what they are doing during the pandemic and are not exploiting the situation. (7)

EMPOWER will create content for your business that is relevant to your potential customers will also advertising your services.

Some marketing tools are not as popular as others

Part of the big shakeup caused by the pandemic has been what kind of social media marketing tools customers prefer using. Some have become more popular, others less so.

Maybe it’s because people have more time to spend in front of their laptops, but more potential customers are opening the marketing emails they receive. There was a four-point increase in opened emails in March and April compared to the same period in 2019. Specifically, industries such as healthcare, finance, and non-profits sent more emails in March and saw increased open rates and a 38 percent drop in unsubscribes year over year. (2)

However, Instagram has had to deal with a drop in its engagement rate and Facebook was not far behind. Twitter has performed better, with some people switching their social media time from Instagram to Twitter, possibly because of that platform’s focus on news content. (7)

The marketing team at EMPOWER can help you use the right tools and content to deliver your marketing information to your target audience.

Use the right kind of imagery

Regardless of the platform or the content being used by brands, the right images used in marketing matter a lot more right now. There are fewer image and video ads depicting models hugging or shaking hands (7) as that is against social distancing rules. Many ads now feature people in their homes, wide shots of the outdoors, or just one person pitching the product or service.

The post-pandemic social media marketing world

Many brands and companies have an opportunity to build their loyal customer base during the pandemic while fully transitioning to digital marketing and ecommerce strategy. Once the pandemic is finally over, the challenge will be making sure the new customers remain loyal. Brands that do play a meaningful role during the crisis will generate long-lasting relationships with their customers, while those who do not may be left behind. Changes that happen now will be long-lasting, such as social media accounts for apparel brands being turned into virtual shops, showing off products online, and directing customers to buy them online.  (9)

Conclusion

While the pandemic is still disrupting industries around the world, brands and businesses need to adapt their social media marketing strategies accordingly. They must show they are aware of how people’s lives have been thrown in disarray by the situation through their online content and by sharing important information. This pandemic will have long-lasting effect on every industry, and marketers must come up with long-term strategies to retain their customers.

With EMPOWER’S digital marketing assistant, you will have access to a remote digital marketing team that will use social media marketing to help grow your business and stand out from the competition.

Get on the list at empower.social to become another success story in the business world.

Resources

  1. Abboud, Leila. “L’Oréal Glimpses Its Digital Future amid Pandemic.” Financial Times, Financial Times, 15 June 2020,
    www.ft.com/content/ab917d5d-e601-44ba-9a2c-53dbb2146dc7
  2. Schultz, Ray. “Pandemic Email Flurry: Send And Open Rates Rose in April.” 05/20/2020, 20 May 2020, www.mediapost.com/publications/article/351664/pandemic-email-flurry-send-and-open-rates-rose-in.html
  3. Brandon, John. “How Influencer Marketing On Social Media Has Changed During The Pandemic.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 9 June 2020, www.forbes.com/sites/johnbbrandon/2020/06/08/how-influencer-marketing-on-social-media-has-changed-during-the-pandemic/#5cb4468b1e83
  4. Bishop, Katie. “The Pandemic and the Influencer: Will the Lifestyle Survive Coronavirus?” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 2 May 2020, www.theguardian.com/media/2020/may/02/influencers-coronavirus-future-income-marketing-lifestyle
  5. Friend, David. “Printed Flyers at Stores May Be Phased out after COVID-19, Marketing Experts Say | CBC News.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 13 Apr. 2020, www.cbc.ca/news/business/grocery-store-flyer-covid-19-1.5530979
  6. Sayej, Nadja. “Instagram Influencers Draw Ire, Death Threats for Traveling During Quarantine.” InsideHook, 15 Apr. 2020, www.insidehook.com/article/internet/instagram-influencers-posting-coronavirus-quarantine-backlash
  7. “Coronavirus (COVID-19) Marketing & Ad Spend Impact: Report + Stats (Updated June).” Influencer Marketing Hub, 16 June 2020, influencermarketinghub.com/coronavirus-marketing-ad-spend-report/
  8. Dillon, Patrick. “Council Post: How To Market Your Business After The Pandemic.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 5 June 2020, www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2020/06/05/how-to-market-your-business-after-the-pandemic/#3616b1a15435
  9. Adgate, Brad. “Thought Leaders Weigh In On The Post Pandemic Advertising And Media Landscape.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 23 May 2020, www.forbes.com/sites/bradadgate/2020/05/22/thought-leaders-weigh-in-on-the-post-pandemic-advertising-and-media-landscape/#5c1399e11f90
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