Top 10 COVID-19 Social Media Marketing Moments

We found the best and worst social media marketing moments so you don’t have to!

At our social media agency in Melbourne, we’ve felt ourselves equal parts surprised, inspired, and even cringing at some of the following campaigns.

By taking a closer look at the good, the great, and the ugly in social media marketing, we’ve gleaned a few important lessons…

The good

1. Tasteful content – Scholastic’s #OperationStoryTime

This publishing company took notice of the shift in behaviours since the outbreak and lockdowns. Noting that parents and children are spending more time together at home, they took the opportunity to revive the tradition of reading to your kids.

In #opertionstorytime, authors and celebrities share videos of themselves reading books. The campaign updates a family tradition for modern times, using technology and social media.

Lesson: Use influencer marketing to tap into current lifestyles during physical distancing.


2. Unveiled secrets – Doubletree’s Cookie Recipe

DoubleTree’s famous chocolate chip cookies are served to Hilton guests at check-in.

The recipe for the cookies has long been coveted by cookie-lovers, who have tried and failed to recreate the method at home.

But since the outbreak, Doubletree made the groundbreaking decision to publish its chocolate chip cookie recipe. The video containing the recipe has been viewed thousands of times, and even encouraged fans to make their own videos while cooking the recipe.

Lesson: Encourage followers to re-created branded experiences at home by revealing company secrets.


3. Making customers feel special – NuFace’s digital house calls

Sales of NuFace’s facial toning devices have surged since more customers have been self-isolating and indulging in self-care.

But where the company would previously dispatch house-calls for spa partners and influencers, NuFace now does virtual house calls on Zoom and Facetime. These tutorials are delivered by none other than CEO Tara Peterson.

Lesson: Give your messaging the weight it deserves by recruiting company leaders for digital marketing and video content.


4. Appropriate product launch – VSCO’s Montage

It takes guts to launch a new product during COVID-19. With so many issues around health, safety and economic security, brands must tread carefully.

But photo editing app VSCO succeeded in doing just that when they launched their new product feature, Montage.

Their messaging presents taking photos as an important way of connecting— very appropriate at a time when people feel isolated and crave human connection.

Lesson: You can still launch a new product, as long as you can make it relevant to customers’ lifestyles during COVID-19. Craft a message that is sensitive and appropriate.


The great

5. Showing humanity – Ford, “the world’s most-trusted company” 

To show their humanity, Ford ditched efforts to market to new customers. Early in the outbreak, they pulled ads for their new Escape and Explorer models! 

Instead, the company focused on using digital marketing to support its existing customers. They posted informational messages about a car payment relief program to help customers with their monthly repayments.

Lesson: Consider whether gaining new followers is appropriate. Focus on supporting your existing community to keep trust and engagement high.


6. Helpful content – Nike Training Club app

Nike also recognised the financial needs of its customers. With so many customers under financial strain, many could no longer afford their subscription services. 

By making subscriptions to their Training Club free, Nike was able to boost engagement, even while customers are self-isolating and stores have closed.

The app offers streamed workouts, training programs and expert tips.

Lesson: Pump up engagement by offering free tips and advice.


The ugly 

7. Tone-deaf KFC’s Finger Lickin’ Good campaign

This campaign, which spanned social media and other digital marketing channels, featured a video depicting people licking their fingers for a whole minute. It launched in late March, when COVID-19 cases were climbing.

The ad was harshly criticised for encouraging behaviour that contributes to spread of the virus. To everyone’s relief, KFC quickly pulled the ad.  

Lesson: Keep your ear to the ground and move fast. Consider health advice when crafting your messages. 


8. Bad timing – Spirit Deals ‘Never a better time to fly’

This budget carrier launched their ‘Never a better time to fly’ message during COVID-19, and like KFC, quickly faced public scrutiny.

The campaign could easily be misinterpreted as encouraging people to risk their health and safety to take advantage of low airfares. However, the company stated that the gaff was merely an oversight. 

Lesson: Make sure your messaging is timely and appropriate to the rapidly evolving rules and regulations. Be mindful of closed borders, travel restrictions, and requirements to wear masks.


Inspiration from viral kindness

9. The TP Fairy

When supermarkets sold out of toilet paper, nine-year-old Carter from Victoria delivered free rolls to his elderly neighbours.

He became The TP Fairy when he created a video about his pursuits and the video went viral. The rolls were wrapped into adorable bundles and accompanied by this handwritten note:

“I hope times get easier for us soon but for now, know there is someone looking out for you.”

While not a branded campaign, this moment of kindness is one that brands can take inspiration from.

Lesson: Offer freebies to those who need it, from healthcare workers to society’s most vulnerable.


10. John Course, DJ

When John’s concert at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl was indefinitely postponed to prevent the spread of the virus, he found another way to bring music to the masses.

John livestreamed a three-hour set from his spare room onto Facebook for thousands across the world to tune it. The success and popularity of the virtual event has prompted John to livestream music every week since.

Lesson: Adapt former in-person experiences to virtual experiences through video and livestreams.


What we learned from COVID-19 social media moments

At our digital media marketing agency in Melbourne we learned a lot by looking at the good, the great and the ugly in social media marketing. 

The brands who most succeeded in engaging customers, retaining brand loyalty and promoting trust often offered free/relevant products or advice all while making good judgements about whether new product launches were appropriate. These kinds of customer investment is exactly what the public needed to see and these brands were rewarded for it. 

Meanwhile brands who failed to tap into the zeitgeist or mere mood of the room exuded bad taste and were taught a lesson for underestimating their public responsibility. 

With these social media moments in mind, we hope you were inspired or at least entertained by some of our favorite campaigns. Staying on top of everything is not always easy but rest assured that making bold, effective statements can pay off.

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