Will social media return to normal? Brand lessons from the pandemic

By Niki Lancaster, Head of Creative at Search Laboratory.

With lockdown restrictions easing slowly, many businesses will be questioning what ‘business as usual’ will look like. In particular, many  marketers are sure to be asking is whether or not marketing activity will  return to normal, particularly across social media.

Here are my thoughts on what lessons brands should take on board from the COVID-19 pandemic when it comes to social media, and what the return to normal might look like across channels.

Will social media return to normal?

As businesses start to get up and running and consumers can once again visit their favourite retailers and restaurants, it’s inevitable that brands across most industries will return to some level of ‘normality’ on public-facing channels such as social media. As the impact of the pandemic lessens, we can expect to see coronavirus related content featuring less regularly on brands’ social media channels.

As issues with supply chains clear up and more people return to work, customers will no longer need to have practical updates on service response times, product availability, and delays to delivery as they did during the pandemic.

However, people’s expectations of brands will have changed and the same high standard of communication will need to be upheld even as ‘normality’ returns. During the pandemic, brands were forced to become more engaging and creative with the content they produced and put out into the world, too; this standard will also need to be upheld even when consumers can get their entertainment offline again.

It will take time for markets and customer purchase power to return to normal, and many brands will see their average customer journey and sales cycle length. As a result, brands will need to ensure their social media strategy focuses on creating content targeted at those customers still in the research phase of their buyer journey – ultimately, focusing on great quality, upper funnel content is likely to become the norm for many brands regardless of industry.

Practical lessons brands should learn from the coronavirus pandemic

Although businesses may be returning to some level of normality over the coming weeks and months, it’s clear that the mood of the nation and the expectation on brands has changed for good. There are a number of lessons businesses should learn from as a result:

Remain transparent and honest: The need for open and honest communication between brands and customers has become extremely important, and these expectations are not likely to go away any time soon.

The bar has been set, and so brands will have to continue to reach these high standards. Make clear communication and access to information your priority – whether this takes the form of permanently adopting the technique of pinning your most important messaging to the top of social media platforms as standard, or reinforcing the values your share with your community.

Pay extra attention to your customer service: During the pandemic, social media become a quick and convenient customer service tool and consumers will expect this channel of communication to stay open.

Consider how you can better service your community’s needs via social media, rather than pointing those enquiring in the direction of email addresses and phone numbers. Make sure you are actively monitoring your channels throughout the day, and take the time to review the most frequently asked questions in order to have prepared responses ready to go and minimise response times.

Continue to add value: Finally, social media is not a one-way platform to simply put out content and promotional messaging, something many brands and marketers can be guilty of. Don’t forget about your customer; use your analytics to identify the content which has been performing the best over this period and look at how you can deliver more of the most in-demand content – it’s all about engaging with your community, encouraging conversations with your customers, and enriching their lives.

By providing this extra value, and being sociable on social media, your brand is likely to remain front of mind, resulting in more conversions.

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