STRATEGY

The Role of Social Media During COVID-19

By Ascend Marketing

April 6, 2021 | strategy

After almost a year of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, it seems almost everything has changed. Instead of enjoying a dinner out, most Americans prefer to have the food delivered to their homes. Rather than hosting a large family gathering to celebrate a birthday or special occasion, groups are opting for a drive-by celebration or even a virtual party. Families are choosing to stay in-state and explore more local areas for travel than take an out-of-state or even out-of-country vacation. Marketing has also changed for organizations because of the pandemic. The different changes and phases organizations have had to make to their marketing efforts over the last year have significantly affected business operations. As opportunities for physical connections and experience were minimized or taken away, many people turned to social media to create a similar experience. In 2020, the number of worldwide social media users increased by 2 million users resulting in 3.6 billion social media users. Data shows that social media usage is not slowing down.

We are now more connected than ever which has provided organizations great opportunities to connect their brands with more customers. We’ve curated top trends and insights below.

US retail social commerce sales will rise by 34.8%, representing 4.3% of all retail ecommerce sales. 

The first thing is that an increase in social media usage has resulted in more consumers being open and willing to interact with social media advertising. Previously, social media users tended to scroll past targeted ads in their social media feeds but now users are spending more time on targeted advertisement sites and profiles shopping for various products. This willingness to engage with social media advertisements has led to a significant increase in e-commerce. Paid search revenue was up 101.3% YoY at the height of the pandemic in 2020. To meet the demand of social media users, organizations are dedicating more of their marketing budget towards targeting users with ads through various social media platforms. eMarketer predicts that social media ad spending is projected to grow by 21.3% or $49 billion in 2021 for US advertisers.
 

Ecommerce sales are predicted to keep rising as users are finding more convenience in the option of shopping through different digital channels from the comforts of their homes.

Social: The new preferred customer service channel.

The role of social media has drastically changed. At its origin, social media was created for individuals to connect with friends, family, and like-minded communities through content.

As digital consumption habits changed so has the purpose of social media. Now organizations are expected to interact with their users. Throughout the pandemic, there has been an increase in the number of users reaching out to organizations via their social media platforms to get support. Social media is the most preferred customer service channel for people under 25, and in 2020, almost two-thirds of the world’s shoppers message a business directly on social media during the holiday shopping season. This has led to a drastic shift from customer service call centers to answering a direct message on a social media platform.

By ensuring your organization is providing customer service when needed through your digital media channels, you are providing your customer with the opportunity to have any issues resolved on a direct contact basis through their preferred communication method. It is crucial to maintain a strong social media presence and engagement to be able to respond to your customer’s needs.

Brand authenticity in the spotlight.

And finally, organizations are expected to be as authentic online as possible. Consumers have been expecting brands to share updates about how they’re handling and responding to the pandemic.

It was important for organizations to share the real aspects of what was going on behind the scenes rather than only giving users a perfectly curated picture designed for social media. There will be a large shift in content, and organizations should plan their content around things their customers want to see.

Below is an example of how Chipotle used an opportunity to celebrate medical professionals during the peak of the pandemic. A post like this shows the organization’s empathy and awareness to what is going on around the world as well as their community outreach.

On the other hand, several brands did not react appropriately once the pandemic was in full effect. A noted brand is Corona beer. On April 2, 2020, their main website had not changed to reflect the situation at hand. Their homepage was filled with individuals celebrating and partying at the beach together drinking Corona Beer with the tagline “that carefree state of mind”. Their tactics were a staunch comparison to brands such as Brooks Brothers who had a pop-up splashed across their front page that they had immediately stopped production on their clothing line products and begun using their resources to create personal protection equipment for healthcare workers. The end goal is to ensure that the consumers feel that their values and goals align with the organizations they support.

As we’ve seen these trends and more emerge, organizations need to take a deep look at how to utilize their martech stack during the post-COVID recovery period.  

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