Here’s the question of the day: How has your marketing strategy evolved since the onset of COVID-19?
It’s clear now that, at least for the foreseeable future, we’re living in a different world. For marketers, that means adapting to new trends and potentially letting reliable old strategies fall by the wayside to try out new opportunities that have arisen as a result of the pandemic.
So how have consumer habits changed, and what can we learn from it all?
COVID-19 has reshaped content
People have easy access to content. And due to the pandemic, there is now a considerable amount more eyeballs on online newsfeeds and a whole lot less on the outside world. In fact, 72% of respondents surveyed by Digital Commerce 360 said their social media consumption went up during COVID-19.
But it’s not just the number of eyeballs. People have more time to pay attention to detail, and actually really experience this digital world. While so many users around the world and to a lesser degree here in New Zealand are staying home and staying safe, there is a great demand for fresh, new and exciting content that can be consumed readily on at-home devices.
With that, companies are turning to social media, thinking it’s the magic wand to increase their audience. That’s not necessarily untrue, but because a lot of organizations are doing the same thing – trying to capture attention – there’s a real sea of content out there. That means strong competition.
So what to do?
Looking to the US entertainment industry
The US entertainment industry shows us a perfect example of how to move with the times.
I’ve noticed that many big American corporations are upping their game on social in new and inventive ways. Production studios have noticed an opportunity to shift how people see their brand, altering their entire business model; instead of the traditional cinema release with red carpet premieres, which people can’t attend, studios are investing heavily in delivering content directly to their audience and connecting with them on a more personal level.
And how are they involving social media?
I was really invested in what Disney could bring to the table. They’re a world-class brand with big tent pole properties like Star Wars and Marvel, so it’s been interesting to watch them shift their marketing strategy from the classic billboards or TV spots to their social accounts. And not just by reposting TV commercials to social media, but using the platforms for what they do best – build relationships.
- Example: For their big 2021 release, “WandaVision”, Disney held a virtual premiere event online that anyone could attend, with a live chat available for people to talk about the premiere as it happened. Additionally, instead of focusing solely on seeking interviews with traditional big-name TV channels, the cast of “WandaVision” spoke to a host of independent YouTube creators as well. This made the Marvel community really feel included in the release of the show, and therefore more excited to watch it.
For Disney on social media, it’s less about marketing and advertising content and more about using these platforms as an extension of their in-app storytelling. They’re catering to their fan base and building strategies around involving their audience, generating excitement and chatter. It’s interesting to witness because they are allowing their audience to be in on something that, in the past, would be inaccessible (e.g. red carpet premieres). But with, say, an entirely virtual release, they can host a virtual event and have the audience take part in that. It’s a little bit more personal, the marketing element feels more connected.
– “WandaVision” live premiere
— WandaVision (@wandavision) January 1, 2021
– Disney uses Twitter to give fans weekly reminders about the show
— 100% Soft • ᴗ • (@100soft) February 19, 2021
– Disney uses Twitter emojis so fans can more actively participate in “WandaVision” content
What can we learn from this?
I think the one thing we can take away from these big international executions is that marketers need to start thinking more boldly, more creatively with their digital content – especially on social media.
Rather than looking at social platforms as a way to advertise the brand or a product, capitalise on its nature as a way to communicate to an audience. Get them involved, get them engaging – pose questions in social media posts, host events with live chats, run AMAs (‘ask me anything’) to start conversations, hold competitions and offer tutorials to encourage users to generate their own content. Investing in a creative strategy that will make your brand stand out from the sea of noise is key for people to actually stop and look at your content.
See if your art skills are all they’re quacked up to be by learning to draw the one and only Donald Duck! pic.twitter.com/FJyql2kgtF
— Disney (@Disney) February 27, 2021
Content ideas to try
There’s been a definite increase in the number of big brands doing live streams. They’re a way to communicate directly with users through the comfort of their home, but they’re also live so presenters can take questions and actually talk one-to-one with viewers. Brands can position their staff as real people, humanising their content by putting a face to the name.
Live streams could be a way to publish FAQs, or offer advice on a particular subject. They can be AMAs as popularised by Reddit, tutorials (as popularised by Twitch Creative), product launches, panel discussions, webinars – you name it.
- Old Spice: Old Spice took advantage of Twitch live chat to run a unique campaign where they sent a man into the woods for three days, where he would do whatever the chat told him to. It was a curious parody of the Twitch phenomenon “Twitch Plays Pokémon” (which at the time was going viral), and another great way for Old Spice to highlight it’s quirky, fun brand.
- Marvel Entertainment: Marvel hosted artists Ken Lashley and Sean Damien Hill on its YouTube channel to teach people how to draw in a fun, interactive live stream.
- Dormakaba: This one is an example of a much smaller brand using the same platforms for the same purpose. Dormakaba wanted to launch a new smart door lock system and turned to a YouTube livestream to host a premiere of the product, including information on its system and even an interview with a customer.
Don’t be afraid to do something big. Make your next marketing campaign an event. Eventising content can add to the excitement, generate build up which in turns generates chatter – which, for your brand, is free word-of-mouth advertising.
But even if you go a different route than live streams and events, the key to remember today is to be bold – stand out, be human, and talk with your audience (not to them). There’s a lot of competition out there, but with the right campaign you can cut through the noise and reach, potentially, a bigger audience than ever before.
Read next: “Don’t be afraid of these social media platforms”