By: Cameron Davis-Bean
First, take a moment today to thank your social media managers.
The past three months have kept them in constant crisis communications mode. They’ve fielded questions and criticisms about your brand they likely never anticipated, and the content strategies they spent hours carefully crafting have been entirely disrupted. On top of any personal stress they might feel as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the horrifying deaths of George Floyd and other Black Americans at the hands of police, their eyes remain glued to your feeds. They immerse themselves in a nearly constant swirl of anxiety and outrage, because that’s their job.
It’s OK to push pause while you refine your strategy
There is no playbook for social media during a pandemic, and it may be uncomfortable for a brand to address issues like racism, inequality and injustice. In many cases, brands have smartly chosen to temporarily stop posting on social media while they determine the most helpful role they can play.
I recommend this approach for a few reasons. It shows your brand understands that in times of national crisis, people don’t want to hear your marketing pitch. It also gives you a chance to examine any content you created before the crisis, and ensure it’s reflective of the helpful, supportive role your brand can take in times of cultural challenge and change. Once COVID-19 sparked shelter-in-place orders across the country, any content mentioning travel, going out, gathering in large groups or any other activities outside the home became temporarily useless. Furthermore, taking a pause allows you to listen to your audience to better understand what they need from you in that moment.
Pivoting your social strategy for the new normal
As we move from crisis communications to a “new normal,” you might struggle with how to adjust your social content strategy to the new reality. That’s OK, and we can help. By following the framework below and revisiting it often, you can plan social content that will drive results for your business while staying sensitive to current events.
1. Identify and understand your audience
- Which audience are you trying to reach? Be specific and develop audience personas if you don’t have them already. Are you targeting new prospects or current customers? What are their demographics?
- What does your audience care about right now? What are they posting on their own feeds or in the comment sections of your posts (or your competitors’ posts)? What problem do they have, and how can you help solve them? Social listening insights are key here.
- What action do you want your audience to take after seeing your content? Different goals will require different messages and content types. Being specific here will help you understand what content you need to create.
- Too often brands start with content creation before thinking strategically about why the content is needed.
- Social media is not a monolith, and different audiences gravitate toward different platforms. In simple terms and generally speaking, reaching Gen Z on Facebook is much more difficult than on TikTok, and LinkedIn is a more natural home for B2B content than Instagram.
- Content requirements also differ by platform, so it’s important to identify your channels at this point in the process.
- With the preparation work from the previous stages done, you should now have a strong understanding of what kind of message will resonate with your audience and where you should reach them. With that in hand, you can enter the content creation phase with confidence.
- Remember not all content has to come from the brand. Sharing user-generated content (with the proper permissions) is an excellent way to show other potential customers what a great product you have while also building pride among your existing customers. Reward your most passionate advocates by amplifying their voices.
- After sharing your content, it’s essential to measure how it performed. Examine your engagement rates, link clicks, reach and impressions. Track and measure these at least monthly to understand how your content performed over time and what types of content perform best.
- In addition to the quantitative data, be sure to factor the qualitative feedback you receive into this process. Look at the sentiment of the comments you receive – not simply the volume – to ensure your content resonated positively.
Learn, adapt and repeat
Change is the only constant in social media. By repeating this cycle on a regular basis, you can continue to improve your content with the learnings you generate. Each time you sit down to create new content, do a quick check-in on steps 1-3 above and consider whether you’ve learned anything new that can better inform what you create next. Measure your efforts on a regular basis, and don’t be afraid to make a change when you see something doesn’t work. By leading with listening and consistently crafting content with your audience in mind, you’ll find success over time.
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Cameron Davis-Bean leads campaign development and execution for integrated marketing programs as an Account Manager at Allison+Partners. He works to find the perfect blend of earned, owned, paid and shared media to drive business results for clients.Category: Integrated Marketing