Social media, can you really run a business without it in today’s competitive digitally dominant landscape? Simply put, no, you can’t. The classic marketing 101 declaration: Go where your prospective audience exists may sound trite, but just as we adjusted to life under full lockdown, businesses needed to accept that COVID-19 changed social dynamics. Therefore, embracing and implementing new client communication and social media marketing strategies were required.

The change in social dynamics

We are social beings, creatures of habit, so being forced to change how we lived our lives frightened and angered us simultaneously. Suddenly, potential/existing customers were imprisoned in four walls. A change in behaviour and expectations was imminent, and the only way for businesses to survive was to break down the proverbial fourth wall.

The metaphorical sledgehammer was not only to smash through communication barriers but adapt the message(s) to fulfil the new-normal questions and alleviate frustrations.

For example, this wasn’t the time for a brand to continue to send sales-focused emails, posts and photos; many people had lost their jobs. Do you think they wanted to know about the latest premium-priced apparel or cookware? I would venture to say that many people may have found it disrespectful. Brands that didn’t adapt to current circumstances risked mass customer exodus.

Agile-minded businesses used the increase in social media as a vehicle of reassurance, entertainment and solutions to time-specific questions that started to blow up on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram feeds.

Health and wellness companies started posting recipes for healthy meals; gyms offered live online workout programmes.

Grocery stores answered basic questions such as “what are we going to have for dinner now that income has been slashed?” by posting low-cost family dinner ideas. This was a time for personalisation and affirmation, not opportunistic promotion.

Nike, for example, in a simple message, fulfilled many hopes and dreams.

©Nike Corporation

For a few seconds, people could imagine that they were influencing the world by following lockdown rules and staying at home. The message is on point and resonates with the individual on an emotional level; that’s how you retain a customer base.

Staying connected: A new creativity-driven social media platform evolves

We knew that video conferencing platforms such as Skype, Zoom and Google Meet were going to see a massive increase in traction due to the business’ need to communicate with clients and staff. However, for those stuck at home and battling boredom, the basal human response seeks uplifting, inspirational content during difficult times. People were desperate to overcome their isolation and connect with others, and the need for creativity and connection became a necessity: enter TikTok.

The platform’s USP encouraged fun content creation collaboration to distract people from the seriousness of their personal situations. Did you know that TikTok was first released in September 2016? However, it wasn’t until lockdown that it became a household name. In fact, TikTok was the third fastest-growing brand of 2020, after only Zoom and Peacock. This is a gem of an example of a company understanding a problem and providing a solution. Their message was concise: connect, and have fun.

So, choosing the right message AND the correct social media platform became vital for business success in 2020, which remains relevant in 2021.

Understand and leverage the following impact touchpoints in your 2021 social media marketing strategy.

  • Omnipresence

The correct utilisation of social media platforms allows businesses to be everywhere simultaneously. Did you know that the average person today has approximately eight social media accounts? If your brand is present on even a few of those platforms, you will “exist everywhere” in that person’s day-to-day life.

  • Personalisation

A couple of months into the pandemic, 100s of millions of people worldwide were suddenly without jobs and marooned on a ‘residential island’. We are social beings and devolved into simply needing to speak to ‘someone’ – understand your audience, cater to their emotional needs, and your brand could be that ‘someone’.

Think about implementing ‘human’ chatbots. The conversation can be directed toward understanding what the prospect wants and needs. Once you know their situation, recommend content that will help them; this isn’t the time to pitch your services – that needs to be seen as an additional solution to assist them once they’re ready. When the time is right, your brand is top of mind, and you have a better chance of a conversion. 

  • Repurpose content

 By repurposing content (this doesn’t mean plagiarising or duplicating) for the numerous platforms on which you have a presence, you will reach your audience and cultivate a loyal following.

 In the spirit of personalisation, share and repurpose user-generated content; it can enhance your influence significantly. Share your customer’s posts if they are appropriate and strike a positive balance between emotion and your product and/or service.   

  •  Networking

LinkedIn uses the word ‘connections’ for a reason. There are numerous ways to network with potential clients or possible collaboration with other companies. Scroll through your connections and send a message asking if they would like to discuss the respective businesses – no sales pitches, just a chat. You’ll be amazed at the positive response.

 The new normal is all about conversation, connection and engagement. Even once vaccines have been administered and physical engagement returns, these three fundamental tenets of business-to-consumer interaction won’t change.

There cannot be light without darkness; the global pandemic (one of the darkest times in recent history) has presented us with specific beams of light that agile-minded businesses have used – and should continue to implement in social media marketing strategies.

It could be said that the pandemic has been the acid test to determine the resilience of social media, and it’s exceeded expectations to the point where it’s ushered in a more robust social media variant if you will.  Optimise your conversation, elements of your social media marketing strategy, specifically connection and engagement and increased traffic, quality lead generation and significantly increased opportunities for conversions will follow.