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Creativity in COVID-19: How Social Media Marketing Rose to the Challenge

A study by Unruly has verified what we’ve all suspected. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, 1 in 2 Aussies are now spending more time with their devices than they did pre-pandemic.

While this provides an opportunity for social media marketing, it also presents challenges.

Many brands are finding themselves in uncharted territory. While it’s clear that campaigns need to change tack, the nature of that change is a bit less clear.

You might be wondering what type of content consumers want to continue seeing in these strange times, and how to remain appropriate. There are also the practical challenges around producing creative while working from home, away from our usual environments.

As a social media marketing agency in Melbourne, we’ve been studying up on the best ways to reach audiences and keep them engaged during COVID-19. Let’s take a look at how social media marketing rose to this challenge…

A Changing landscape

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed consumer behaviours drastically in a short span of time.

According to the Unruly study, more than half of Aussies are doing more cooking. 42% of people are spending more time fixing their homes, and 33% are reading more books.  

The data shows us that lockdowns have encouraged people to spend more time on self and home improvements, learn new skills, and indulge in recreational activities.

The increase in time alone, and away from workplaces, has caused more time on mobile devices. Over a third of Aussies report significantly increasing their mobile time.

As you can see, consumer behaviour during COVID-19 provides an opportunity for social media marketers to reach consumers where they like to hang out—online.

What do consumers want from their content during COVID-19?

According to the Unruly study, almost half of Aussies want brands to be more informative whilst a quarter want advertisers to share how they’re supporting staff and customers.

This data shows us that brands must remain sensitive and aware of the content they’re creating during COVID-19, and where appropriate, to share how their brands are responding.

Meanwhile, a fifth of Aussies also want funny and positive content from brands to distract them from what’s going on. More than a third of Aussies want marketing to make them feel happy whilst a quarter simply want funny ads.

This is great news for marketers who may have concerns about what type of content is appropriate in the current climate. While it’s important to remain sensitive, consumers want to be cheered up too!

Among the younger demographic of 18-24, nearly half prefer brands to communicate through online video – yet another opportunity for social media marketing to reach their audiences.

Though it was imperative for brands to start pushing out different content, one thing remains clear: with only 4% of Aussies believing that brands should pause advertising, marketers should not stop campaigning.

Social media marketing can still work to build relationships and raise brand awareness during COVID-19.

Practical challenges

Since many marketers have been working from home during lockdown, brands have been faced with practical challenges around how to produce content.

One study found that nearly 40% of companies have been struggling to produce creative. These challenges are caused by:

  •   marketers and creative teams working from home
  •   loss of access to studios, crews and talent
  •   being limited to repurposing existing work
  •   quicker turnaround time, demanded by a quickly evolving environment
  •   reduced time for testing content before launch

Social media marketing success since COVID-19

Showing you care

Brands should remain sensitive to the somewhat sombre mood that surrounds our current outlook for health and the economy. 

One way to do this is by creating campaigns specifically for frontline workers. These could be health professionals, like doctors, nurses and carers, who are working harder than ever.

Frontline workers can also include those working in other industries to keep our essential services afloat, like people working in the farming, food and manufacturing industries.

UberEats

For example, Uber Eats created a campaign that was aimed at workers in England’s National Healthcare Service. The campaign wanted to help these workers by providing them with freebies, while at the same time engaging audiences and showing the wider community that they care—an excellent way to promote positive brand awareness.

Be helpful

We know that people have more time to themselves and they want content to suit that new reality. They want to learn new skills, improve themselves, create things…and they also want a distraction from the difficulties of physical distancing.

This creates an opportunity for brands to reach consumers by sharing educational and informative content.

IKEA did this by sharing the recipe for their famous Swedish meatballs, normally available in store. The recipe instructions look like the assembly guides for IKEA flat pack furniture.

In this way, IKEA is giving consumers the useful and entertaining content they crave. At the same time, IKEA helps audiences recreate branded experiences in their own homes through a delightful, clever brand awareness strategy.

Tap into user-generated content

With more time and devices on our hands, there has never been a better time to tap into user-generated content.

Use social media marketing campaigns like competitions to inspire users to create their own branded content! This increases engagement with existing audiences, but also creates brand awareness among their family and friends.

FitBit did this in the Good Moves campaign. This campaign responded to a drop in user engagement during lockdown, caused by people doing less exercise.

The Good Moves campaign prompted people to do exercise at home, tapping into audiences’ desire for fun and uplifting content during an isolating time.   

Creativity in COVID-19

Our research and experience shows that consumers still want branded content.

As Heath Irving at Unruly put it, “The vast majority of consumers still want to see ads, but the key to success is in the content and the way a message is conveyed.”

During COVID-19, consumers want brands to share their response to the evolving situation. But they also want uplifting content that helps them get through the day.

As a social media agency in Melbourne, we recommend producing content that is helpful to the general public or aimed at frontline workers. It’s also a great time to create user-generated content campaigns.

Luckily for us, creativity in COVID-19 is more important than ever.

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