Brands can gain favor by being empathetic and offering meaningful help. To do this, they must create caring messaging, update their websites and change their social media strategies.

Laura Russell, director of strategy at Adlucent

Laura Russell, director of strategy at Adlucent

As the coronavirus impacts the entire world, there are ramifications for businesses and individuals alike. People are actively looking for ways to stay healthy, occupied, informed and ultimately, positive. Brands, meanwhile, are hoping to meet people where they are to keep their businesses successful during this crisis while further developing customer relationships.

With the future uncertain, brands should consider how they will be perceived during and in the aftermath of the crisis, implementing campaigns that help build loyalty long-term. Brands can gain favor by continuing to be empathetic and offering meaningful help. To successfully get through this, brands must create caring messaging, update their websites for the current landscape and pivot their social media strategies.


Creating caring messaging 

Keep health, safety and community top-of-mind as you evaluate messaging for digital campaigns. Don’t make light of the crisis, but instead offer help. For example, crafts retailer Joann created a “Make to Give” campaign to help crafters sew protective masks for medical personnel who need them.

In general, brands should adjust their brand voice to ensure it directly addresses people’s needs authentically. “Virtue signaling”–speaking to brand values but not taking action on them–is never a strong approach, but particularly risky in times of crisis. Be authentic, flexible and transparent with customers and remember to iterate continually, as the situation is changing rapidly.

Updating your brand’s ecommerce site

The hub of any ecommerce brand’s business is its website. As such, it must directly reflect the current situation with transparent, compassionate messaging.

  • Communicate appropriately: You’ll want to make sure you address the current situation immediately on your homepage. For example, the office furniture supply company Steelcase incorporated a positive message about working from home in their homepage banner, with an entire section dedicated to how they are addressing COVID-19.
  • Be transparent around inventory and delivery: At this point, we’ve all experienced challenges with product availability and delivery delays as consumers. As a brand, be open about what’s available. For example, King Arthur Flour wrote a letter to customers acknowledging the impact of the virus on their business overall and the actions they were taking to address it. 
  • Create thoughtful promotions and sales: Thoughtful promotions can provide real value to customers adjusting to a new situation. Offering free shipping or reducing order minimums can be a show of faith for customers.

Revising social media

Updating your social media approach can go beyond shifting your message. Offering new ways to engage, such as Livestreaming events, can build brand loyalty for the long term.

  • Check social scheduling: Double-check any social scheduling software you use and pause previously scheduled campaigns that may no longer be relevant. 
  • Provide business updates: Continuously communicate changes in your availability or services promptly via social media.
  • Start a group: Starting a Facebook or LinkedIn group is a great way to connect an impacted customer base. For example, office furniture brand Steelcase created the Suddenly Working From Home Group on Linkedin that was featured by Linkedin in their internal communication to employees with tips relevant to the crisis.
  • Use social listening: Using social listening can help you adjust your social strategy and marketing strategy overall. Ask questions, track hashtags and look for competitor mentions to see how their posts resonate with audiences.
  • Live stream events: Live streaming events can be a great way to engage your followers and entertain audiences that are spending more time on screens. For example, Fire Mountain Gems hosted a tutorial on how to make tassel earrings on Facebook Live.

Thinking about the future

Brands that thoughtfully plan and revise their strategies on owned digital marketing channels will be able to better support their customers for years to come. Updating communication, evaluating your ecommerce site and revising your social media strategy will ensure you can address people’s concerns and provide real value. If brands are genuine about their efforts, they can find success through the hard times.

Adlucent is a digital marketing agency based in Austin, Texas.