So You Crushed Social Media Marketing During Shutdown…Now What?

With more time (and increased need), you focused on social media marketing during the early days of the pandemic and saw great returns...but how do you keep momentum as things get back to normal?

Published On: July 29th, 2020

When the shutdowns began, the world took to the Internet.

Whether they were using it to entertain themselves or interact with others, the increased web usage during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic was undeniable. According to eMarketer, between 46-51% percent of US adults surveyed admitted to increased social media usage (specifically) between March – May 2020. And if you were a digital marketer in charge of communicating oft changing hours of operation and service options to the public, you quickly realized the audience was not only larger, but much more engaged.

eMarketer stats on increase social media usage among adults during COVID | Sean Patrick O'Leary

Not only were people forced to rely on social networks to communicate with one another, but with regularly changing legislation impacting business offerings, they were paying close attention to brands they follow. Combine that increased audience with the boost in visibility provided to content related to Covid by the algorithms of most major social networks, and social media marketers likely noticed extraordinary results from their efforts between March and May. Even those businesses unable to operate may have found success simply communicating with their followers to update them on things happening behind the scenes.

Now, after a long few months of reopening around the country, the social media landscape appears to have returned (more or less) to normal. The collective attention of the masses shifts away from Covid on a daily basis (even for markedly less important things such as the release of a new Taylor Swift album), and many businesses around the country are back to some level of operation. Unfortunately, that also means that for some, social media marketing may once again fall to the back of mind. If you were a business owner or marketer that found an opportunity (and the time) to embrace social media during the shutdown and recognized its power, don’t stop now. Below are a few ways you can carry the momentum forward.

Continue Being Creative

One of the remarkable outcomes of the pandemic was the creative ways people found to entertain one another using only their immediate surroundings, and a lot of this creativity can be translated into effective marketing going forward. With things normalizing, we should not go back to the old ways, but rather grow upon that creativity now that we know we can create worthwhile content without leaving our homes (or offices, storefronts, etc). This can be done with two overall ideas in mind:

  • The content you produce doesn’t have to be life-changing. Your followers will respond positively if they simply see you and your team having fun. As long as you produce a steady stream of fun content, people will pay attention.
  • Your followers can create for you too. People are more ready than ever to create a video or post a photo of themselves completing a challenge. This type of user-generated content helps extend your reach and keep your followers engaged in truly interactive ways. Propose a challenge to your fans and offer a prize to the best entry (make sure that they are following you and that they include your handle and hashtag in the post).

As a personal anecdote, I found that many of my clients had successful responses to simple video updates. Live broadcasts or quick videos updating the public of hours and changes to services seemed to be greeted with messages of support and a noticeably extended reach. While things may be getting back to normal, we’re still in strange times and your public would love to hear from you. If you have a public facing figure that’s loved by your fans, feature them in regular updates.

The pandemic and recent technology advances make it easier to take your videos further should you desire. With the recent rise in popularity of video on social media (See: TikTok), we can not only record/capture on our phone, but very easily manage media in highly creative ways. Video editing, special effects, animated stickers, and photo filters have become increasingly accessible and powerful, allowing for more ways to make and dress up content. Play around with these features and you’ll find that creating content for your social media marketing is easier (and more fun) than ever.

Continue Connecting & Being Supportive

As the pandemic began to spread globally, a sentiment of “we’re all in this together” could be found in every area affected, and that sentiment should remain strong as we continue to work through difficult times. Connecting with other businesses in your area (even competitors) and promoting the idea of regional strength and pride is useful during times of crisis. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it can also build valuable good will with the public. Therefore, if you hear word of a collective of organizations in your area getting together to do something positive for pandemic relief, get involved. And don’t be afraid to spearhead your own initiative or go it on your own.

How to Keep Social Media Marketing Momentum during COVID | Sean Patrick O'Leary

A good place to start is to focus on helping medical professionals. In the beginning of the pandemic, we saw a lot of outreach efforts targeting medical professionals highlighted throughout social networks (and news outlets). As the pandemic continues, medical professionals will continue to be overworked, at risk, and in need of support, but these public relations efforts are likely to slow down. Participation in or heading up this type of program now or in the near future will not only be helpful to your community, but will show people that you haven’t forgotten about the important things (while also reminding them that a need still exists).

Prepare for the Future

Nobody wants to consider this possibility, but we have to: This could happen again. It could be a second wave, a second pandemic, or something completely different, but we’ve now learned that we need to be prepared for this.

From a social media marketing standpoint, this should involve including a strong crisis management section within your social media plan. In the event of another shutdown, social media and the web will be your primary option for communicating with the public, so you should be ready to take advantage:

  • Have posts prepared and a plan for who will post them.
  • Be prepared to produce “message to the public” content to update followers quickly.
  • Have a plan for altering services or operating completely online, and be ready to announce details.

With the uncertainties the future brings in regards to the Covid-19 pandemic, all businesses should proceed with the “plan for the worst, but hope for the best” mentality. That means, assuming that there will be another shutdown so that you will be ready if it happens. Do not assume that things will only continue to get better, although we all hope that they do. Having a solid and regularly updated social media crisis management plan will save you a lot of stress in the event of another shutdown situation.

The Takeaway: Don’t let a return to normalcy ruin momentum built during an abnormal time. Sure, with increased normalcy comes the return of more responsibilities which can take focus away from social media marketing, but it should not be forgotten. Keep it near the front of your mind, don’t forget your followers, and plan for future crises. If you would like to work together to develop a social media plan that includes creative content ideas, sample posts, social media calendar, and a robust crisis management plan, click here to contact me today!

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