Many industries, organizations, businesses and people have been highly impacted by the global Coronavirus pandemic. While events are canceled and hotels and restaurants are closed, many industries and companies are facing a hard time.

A new situation — like the current one — also brings new marketing and social media challenges. How should we adjust our social media strategy during these times? What does our new content plan look like?

In this guide, we want to show you some best practices and examples of how social media teams from various brands are dealing with the current crisis situation.

  1. Brands are staying out of the COVID-19 topic
  2. Brands are showing empathy and doing good
  3. Brands are launching coronavirus campaigns
  4. Brands are exploring new platforms & content strategies

Coronavirus pandemic & Social Media

First of all, we need to set the stage regarding the current situation. 

As current cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) increase globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) is engaging in information warfare to combat the spread of the virus. 

While it is still early days during this pandemic, a lot of social media teams and brands feel unsure of how to correctly address the current situation on social media.

At Storyclash, we used our own social media monitoring solution, combined  with qualitative research, to show you the different ways that brands are addressing the current situation.

1) Brands are staying out of the COVID-19 topic

Overall, one trend among brands goes into the following area: Not addressing the topic at all. For some brands, the easiest way to confront the current topic of the Coronavirus pandemic is to ignore it altogether. 

And there are various reasons why brands stay out of the topic:

  • Their business is not directly impacted by the current situation
  • They are unsure of how to react and communicate
  • Brands don’t want to run content that’s not aligned with the current experience & situation that people face

In addition, many social media marketers are unsure of how to avoid doing anything that runs counter to governmental advice. People overall are confused about how they should act in this situation. So, brands need to be really careful to not add to this confusion.

While some brands are usually the first to react and engage with newsworthy topics, some brands do stay out of the Coronavirus topic overall.

Coca-Cola can be seen as one example. As the German twitter account of Coca-Cola announced on March 27, the company will pause all “commercial advertising” until further notice.


If we look at engagement statistics, we can see that Coca-Cola Germany already became less active on social media in March 2020. Compared to the previous month, the social media accounts (Instagram, Twitter & Facebook) generated 46% less interactions.

2) Brands are showing empathy and doing good

Many brands have suspended, delayed or shifted planned marketing campaigns due to the coronavirus situation. As some brands navigate this uncharted territory better than others, many brands respond with empathy and sensitivity. 

 Some brands even go further and offer support and help where needed. 

While some businesses are offering direct help — such as hotels opening up their beds for patients — other industries are sending help and other forms of donations.

Car manufacturers and the automotive industry as a whole are a good example.

If we take a look at what the automakers have to say about COVID-19, we can see that they’re supporting #StayAtHome campaigns and are contributing with donations and other kinds of help.

(source: Storyclash – COVID-19 Posts from Car Brands)

The Italian car manufacturer Ferrari for example announced that the Agnelli family (owners of the Fiat-Chrysler enterprise) donated 10 million euros in support of COVID-19.

(source: Ferrari on Instagram)

Mercedes-Benz also adjusted their social media strategy and offered to use their reach for circulating COVID-19 information. 

Or as the team stated: 

“As Daimler’s social media team, we decided to give what we’ve got the most: reach. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we will share relevant Corona-related information from trusted health authorities. Because we want to spread the word, not the virus.”

(source: Mercedes-Benz on Instagram)

Another car manufacturer — General Motors — decided to team up with another company to produce important respiratory products to support the fight against COVID-19.

(source: GM on Twitter)

3) Branded Coronavirus campaigns

While many brands use this time to do something good and support the fight against COVID-19, some social media and marketing teams go even further.

Companies like the ones below utilize their situation in order to sell and market their products. 

One example is Lush, which invited the UK public to wash their hands in-store for free.

Posters and visuals promoting this initiative didn’t mention the Coronavirus, instead offering a contextual prompt to a public scrambling for cleanliness.

In a statement, the company said: “Since we’re universally known as ‘that soap shop,’ from Friday 28 February we’re using our shop windows to promote the hand-washing guidelines as advised by the NHS in the UK and other public health organisations around the world,” the company said in a statement.

While the initiative was mostly well-perceived on Twitter and Instagram, we can still see a clear business goal of getting people into the shops. Also, following the government’s announcements, Lush temporarily closed all its shops until further notice, bringing this campaign to an early end.

(source: Twitter)

4) Brands are exploring new platform and content strategies

During these times, grocery stores play an important role in our society. And while many large grocery stores face busy times, some brands don’t forget the joy and fun. 

Edeka, a German brand known for their creative marketing, for example, publishes hilarious videos on TikTok. It seems though, that the mentioned EDEKA Tik Tok account is the social media account of  the subsidiary Edeka Esslinger. 

(source: Edeka on TikTok)

As mentioned in the introduction, many industries — such as travel — are shut down to a minimum. This has many implications, and also from a social media content perspective, they needed to adjust quickly.

If we look at the content & social media activities of HolidayCheck, a major German Travel platform, it can be seen how they quickly adjusted their Instagram content.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, their Instagram Stories consisted of travel reports and insights into new destinations.

(source: Storyclash, Instagram Stories beginning of March)

After the world-wide travel restrictions, HolidayCheck switched their content and published  FAQs on topics such as cancellation policies or travel restrictions.

(source: Storyclash, Instagram Stories March 22nd)

In addition, HolidayCheck also introduced new content formats, such as their Holiday Heroes podcast covering topics such as travel laws during these times.

(source: Storyclash, Instagram Stories March 27th)

Conclusion

In Europe and the US, we are still in the early days of the Coronavirus pandemic and it remains to be seen how long the current situation will continue. From a marketing and social media perspective, we already saw various different industries and brands adjust their budgets as well as their influencer- and content plans along this new situation.

No matter if they quickly launched some branded campaigns or just showed empathy and expressed help where needed, the current situation uncovers brands that are good at crisis marketing. With this article, we hopefully inspired you with ideas of how social media could work for you during these times.

Disclaimer: We regularly update this article, adding new examples on how brands have adjusted their social media strategies in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic. If you have any examples, please tweet us @storyclash or send us an email at marketing@storyclash.com.

P.S. Want to learn more about how a social media monitoring solution like Storyclash can help your social media team in the current situation? Talk to us.

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