Social media: Adjusting to life in the shadow of COVID-19 has taken its toll for many in the business community. Still, arguably those working in marketing and communications are some of the worst affected.
The challenges created by life in lock down has not only forced organisations to think outside of the box, but also to re-imagine what the box actually looks like. As businesses furloughed staff or created a secure environment for team members to work from home, digital marketing and social media has become more critical than ever to reach customers outside of the typical work environment.
The Content Vacuum
Shifting the focus to digital marketing and social media has meant that an already over saturated series of platforms have experienced an influx of organic (non-paid) activity. Companies that were once averse to using social media have now appeared in their droves, often posting organic content without identifying a platform purpose or aligning their content with an overall strategy.
Although the adoption of new methods of reaching customers should be welcomed, a lack of purpose, planning and strategy has created a Content Vacuum. A place in which strategised posts have, unfortunately, been pulled into the social media void, making it more difficult than ever to stand out from the crowd.
With this being said, a recent report by SproutSocial has shown that brands who effectively align their social media content to an overall content strategy received an increase in engagement across all platforms. The report highlighted that a clear social media strategy resulted in 44 more engagements per day on average and 7.3 more engagements per post per day across all networks and industries.
Understandably, the most dramatic increase in social media engagements per day occurred in consumer goods, healthcare and media/entertainment – all of which is classed as top-of-mind categories across the pandemic.
A focus on organic content over paid content
While the increase in engagements can be seen as a reassuring move in the right direction for brands trying to reach their consumers, the rise in organic activity has been led by necessity as opposed to a luxury.
The uncertainty and ambiguity caused by COVID-19 has understandably resulted in the tightening in budgets; causing most marketers to become more tactical with their spending and explore less costly methods of engaging their audience.
This has been confirmed by a mid-COVID-19 study from Social Bakers, where they had found that, on average, the share of paid posts across all platforms dropped by 3.5%. They have also predicted that this trend is expected to continue as organisations look towards organic growth strategies that are driven by the well-planned content on appropriate channels.
Adapt and evolve
So, the question that many marketers are asking is “what now?”. If brands across the globe have turned to organic content and budgets are becoming tighter by the month, how do we ensure that our organisation stands out and cuts its way through the noise? The answer is simply to adapt and evolve.
Plan and continually optimise a comprehensive and flexible digital marketing strategy
Although we should already have a digital marketing strategy under our belt, now more than ever, we need to ensure that it is comprehensive enough stakeholders from across the organisation to understand and contribute. Gone are the days of fluffy, nonsensical buzzwords and content that is just used to tick a box.
Alongside this, each aspect of your digital marketing plan needs to be viewed with a level of flexibility and paired with a ‘plan B’.
Focus on video content
Video’s favourability in each of the social media platform’s algorithms is nothing new. The use of GIF content alongside high-quality video is a tactic that has been used for some years as a method of appeasing platform algorithms; the only new development is its accessibility. Teams behind inexpensive tools like Canva have worked tirelessly over the lock down period to introduce new and exciting features that make the lives of marketers that little bit easier. With a small amount of time investment, Canva is an almost foolproof way of creating engaging video content for all digital platforms.
As mentioned, with the organic sphere becoming more crowded by the day, creativity and innovation are required to stand out and resonate with your audience. As we say on the Digital Marketing and Social Media training course at INPD, ‘why try to reinvent the wheel?’. Using tools like Reddit, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr to research new ideas is a perfect way to re-imagine and reinvigorate stale content.
Overall, while social media will always have sociological implications that are caused by user interaction and misalignment of information, its original purpose has once again re-emerged. COVID-19 has helped brands to rediscover the positive and influential role of social media, reaffirming its place as a customer service and two-way engagement tool.
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Associate tutor of In Professional Development