The Role of Social Media Marketing During a Crisis

With so many people stuck in their homes with nowhere to go, screen time is at an all-time high. People are on social media now more than ever before. That’s who now is the time to shift your focus on building your brand — and doing so through social media marketing, even amid a crisis.

What better time to engage with your audience than right now, when they’re all in the same place and experiencing the same fears? Focusing on social media marketing during a crisis is challenging, but your strategy should focus on engagement and solutions.

Here are some ways to adapt your digital marketing strategy to today’s reality:

Be responsible.

As a brand with a platform, you have a responsibility to share the reality of the global pandemic and what people can do to adapt. Whatever industry you may be in, everyone is experiencing the same unfortunate reality of COVID-19 and your audience wants to be reassured that you’re aware of its impact on society.

Share ways that people can help others — or help themselves during this time. Not only does this shine a positive light on the situation, but also on your organization for taking the right measures for the good of the people.

Be compassionate.

It doesn’t take a genius to understand how important compassion is at this point in time. Your audience wants to feel heard and understood, whether it has to do with your brand or not. This is a unique time in which brands can really brainstorm creative ways to help others and make a positive difference.

Now is not a time to be greedy or profit hungry. That only rubs people the wrong way, and pushes people away from the brand you’ve worked hard to build. If you respect others, they will respect you in return.

These times bring to mind the words of Maya Angelou, who famously said:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Be transparent.

At this point, there’s no shame in admitting defeat with some aspects of your business. Everyone understands the struggle. Be transparent with your audience, whether it be acknowledging low inventory or having to put a pause on certain operations.

Being transparent only builds on the trust you’ll want from your audience in the long run. If you use strategic social media marketing during a crisis, when you’re ready to come back at 100%, your audience will come back with you.

For more tips on the role of social media marketing during a crisis, check out Tiffany Napper’s blog, Social Media + Coronavirus: Everything You Need to Know.

How Social Media Marketing Made a Sandwich Go Viral

“Y’all good?”

Those two words started a social media war last summer. 

When Popeyes Chicken launched their new chicken sandwich, Chick-fil-A had words to say about it. Being the leading chicken fast food chain, they wanted to remind us who really had the sandwich we all wanted. (I mean, honestly, who can resist their chicken?! It. is. my. fave.)

After seeing this on Twitter, Angela Brown, social media strategist for Popeyes, bit back with “…y’all good?” 

This tweet blew up to the point that between Aug. 12 and Aug. 31 there was one tweet per second about Popeyes.

Suddenly, the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich became the most wanted sandwich on the Internet. Gayle King, Serena Williams, Justin Bieber and Cardi B are just a few of the celebrities who got their hands on the sandwich. 

That’s a lot of talk about a sandwich.

But, what really drove everyone out to get the sandwich was how fast it traveled through word of mouth. Seeing all of Twitter try this sandwich had people running out to see what the hype was about the sandwich. Was it really better than the Hall-of-Fame Chick-fil-A sandwich? 

Lines grew longer and one by one, stores started to sell out of chicken sandwiches. On social media people were on the hunt for the remaining stores that were still selling the sandwich but many were out of luck. Popeyes locations began putting up signs letting us all know there were no more sandwiches.

Only two weeks after the launch, the Popeyes sandwich sold out nationally after making an estimated $65 million in media value. Popeyes made a comeback and in November announced the return of their now infamous sandwich. Popeyes still wasn’t pulling any punches and planned the comeback on a Sunday, the only day of the week Chick-fil-A is closed. With the return came even more long lines of people wanting to get their hands on the sandwich. 

Here’s why it worked.

Using social media to market your brand or a new launch can amount to great success if done correctly. The Popeyes marketing team knew that instigating a back-and-forth with other fast food restaurants on Twitter, namely Chick-fil-A would catch people’s attention. For all of us watching, we were confused but highly amused at the tweets. Tapping into a funny or sassy brand voice online can attract people who maybe wouldn’t normally pay attention to your brand but are here for the humor. 

As a fast food chain, Popeyes was able to take that risk of employing humor. Humor is universal, yes, but it may not be the most appropriate brand voice for all organizations. Knowing how to translate your organization’s mission and values into a corresponding brand voice online is important for all brands!

Social media is a great way to spread what you stand for while also having fun with it. Learn how we can build your social media to reach your audiences.

How Do I Get My Content to Go Viral?

These days it seems like anything can go viral on social media.

Every day when you go into work, everyone is talking about this meme or that video or something (usually stupid) that a celebrity said. So is the next online trend or viral video all just up to random luck?

In many cases, yes. A post by someone who already has a lot of followers is more likely to get more engagement. Sometimes it’s also the case of just being the right post at the right time.

But, that’s not always the case. No matter what social media platform you use, you’ve curated it to your tastes. We all want things that interest us on our feed. So, how can a post transcend timelines and platforms and reach the coveted “viral” status?

The answer: it all depends on the message. (We know, that wasn’t the easy answer you were hoping for.)

In general, polarizing messages are more likely to go viral on social media. It makes sense, because we feel things strongly. If you’ve ever had a fight with a troll on Twitter, you know that’s especially true when it comes to social media.

We can break up messaging into two different categories, ones that are “high arousal” emotions and ones that are “low arousal” emotions. High arousal emotions are much more likely to go viral.

These emotions include; awe, excitement, amusement, anger and anxiety. This is why we see a lot of messages that are funny go viral. It’s also why a lot of breaking news goes viral — it’s usually something that gives us anxiety! 

While a message may be positive, if the emotion is on the low arousal side, it’s less exciting and less likely to go viral. But think about some of the viral trends like the Ice Bucket Challenge or screaming goats — they made you laugh and they made you feel good.

That’s one end of the spectrum, but there’s two sides to every coin.

Did anyone else see this moment when a young boy with dwarfism cried to his mom because of how he was bullied at school? Or when Lizzie stole Taylor’s Perfect Attendance pencil? (By the way — who the HECK is this Lizzie girl — and did she give the pencil back?!) Those moments went viral because they made us feel something, but not something good.

At the end of the day, there are lots of factors at play when it comes to gong viral. News feed algorithms, time of day, number of followers, the list goes on. But anytime a video, photo, or quote speaks to people in a powerful way, it has the ability to take over the internet.

The good news is that social media isn’t just about going viral. Understanding your audience and knowing what type of content suits your brand can give you great engagement, viral or not!