COVID-19 Learnings #5: Social Media

COVID-19 Learnings #5: Social Media

What does coronavirus mean for brands on social media?

1. Kelly Luttinen / Simantel / USA 

The successful brands on social right now are the ones who know their role and stay in their lane. People are exposed to more and more COVID-19 messages with each passing day, and consumer fatigue is starting to show. Just last week in the NYT, brand experts talked about “covidwashing” in response to a failed dress giveaway by Draper James on social media. What works on social media right now is practical, relevant information for customers and brand stories that feel natural. For example, ESPN created a beautiful spot about the first sporting event after quarantine. Vans (the shoe company) is doing cool videos on creativity and is helping out small businesses with their “Foot the Bill” campaign, as they themselves started out as a small business. Brands like Travel and Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler are posting gorgeous vacation photos for all the wanderlust junkies stuck at home. Live video is also working really well to connect people to brands and get questions answered quickly. This is a time to use social to connect with your fan communities and make sure you’re delivering what they need.


  • Alter existing campaigns for tone and imagery
  • Acknowledge the situation
  • Give practical information
  • Offer digital solutions, like online ordering, chat or information on your site


  • Ignore the situation
  • Overreach
    • in what you promise (like in a give-away like Draper James or in a new feature like the Yelp/GoFundMe)
    • in what you can speak to (not all brands need to comment on health)
  • Be insensitive, minimize or assume you know what people are going through

2. Glenn Ouëndag / Campagne / The Netherlands

COVID-19 forces people to change their lifestyles, adjust to working from home and reevaluate their needs. It’s important for brands to let their followers (customers amongst others) know you understand these difficulties and are here to help and support wherever you can. But also that you are still open for business (as usual). It’s important for brands to communicate to their follower’s with compassion and empathy about this period but also keep on sharing great positive stuff (updates, news, blogs, whitepapers, work) which have almost nothing to do with COVID-19. Just to let your follower’s know that good times will come and COVID-19 is not taking over your social content strategy.


3. Joanne Lammers / Campagne / The Netherlands 

What you see on social media during COVID-19 are two different directions. One direction is brands that don’t know what to do and therefore keep quiet. The other one is brands that have a strong social media presence and make themselves heard. Those brands are making the difference now. The brands that stand out have their content strategy in order and know what content marketing is all about: building your own channel adds value by creating one-to-one relationships with your audience. They can continue to have conversations with their audience and make an impact. Owned media is more important than ever and the value of a strong content strategy is even more evident now.


4. Sara Silva, comOn, Portugal 

Coronavirus is a different kind of crisis that brands aren’t used to. It’s a people-related crisis and not about brand reputation. This means the main focus should be helping people during these pandemic times. The communication must come after the actions to prevent the brand from being perceived as an opportunist. For Social Media it’s the same but the impact of the communication (good or bad) might be stronger because of its ability to reach an enormous amount of people within minutes. That’s why brands must be even more careful with what they say on Social Media during COVID-19 crisis.


5. Madeleine / DPR&CO / Australia 

My four tips for digital marketing during COVID-19 are:

  1. Keep things pointed 

The first thing to keep in mind is what’s needed right now. Keep this in mind in all of your communications – while some announcements may be really important to your business internally, they may not contribute value to people with many other things on their minds.

  1. How can you help?

Are there ways in which your business can look to provide support or assistance? Maybe there are practical tips and advice you can give for practicing safety and wellbeing. 

  1. Consider the context

Any emails or social media posts you send out will be amidst hundreds of communications around COVID -19. Consider whether your message could come across as inconsiderate or useless in this context. 

  1. Repurpose with purpose

If your content creation budget is limited, take a look at your top performing content and user-generated content from the last twelve months. Can you repurpose any of this while adding relevancy to the current situation?

[ Do you want to know more about these tips? Click here to read a full article]


6. Caroline Cox / CVR / USA 

There’s no secret that we’re in a global health and economic crisis. What brands do now on social media will say a lot about who they are. A brand doesn’t have to have the ability to solve and end this problem, they just need to make the right choices so that they land right side up when our world stops being flipped upside down.

You can see here a few social media dos and don’ts to keep in mind during a crisis, along with a few Harry Potter references as examples 

[ do you want to know why Harry Potter is part of the article? 1. I love Harry Potter and couldn’t help it. 2. Albus Dumbledore would have made a great social media advisor during a crisis. Read and discover more! ]


7. James Rector / Stone Ward / USA

Adapt with your audience. Whether you are selling fried chicken or diamond rings, evaluate the cost-effectiveness and creativity of how your goods and services are being provided to consumers. This is the perfect time to develop eCommerce, experiment with shoppable posts, or offer free delivery to your valued customers. Also keep in mind that people don’t want brands talking like brands right now – make your copy conversational and your creative uplifting.



8. Arianne White / Peter Mayer /  USA

Brands should be asking themselves – what is our role in helping our audience get through this crisis? If they haven’t already, this is the time to create a new set of content categories that revolve around the things they can contribute.

With the majority of the country at home there is a more captive audience on social media. Connect with them by putting aside a sales-driven approach and pivoting to truly consumer-first content. Do provide content that is useful, inspiring and informative. Do acknowledge that for the first time your entire audience is going through a crisis together. Don’t go dark – your audience is used to your posting cadence so continue communicating, even as your content approach shifts. Don’t use this crisis as a sales opportunity. Above all, put the safety and well-being of your audience first.


9. Klaudia Ceglarz / F11 /  Poland

Companies think that social media is their “to be or not be” during COVID-19. They race each other to post more creative posts, to catch more attention of the clients, to sell more products, to build a better relationship between organization and customers. One wrong message sent to customers during this sensitive time can be a checkmate for a company. From the other side, one right message can be a huge win. 

In my opinion companies should focus on providing people a little bit of hope and normality in this unknown time. Focus on getting to know your target audience and their needs in this crisis situation. Acknowledge the crisis, and its constant change, but try to give customers the sense of normality. As sooner or later we all need to get back to normality… maybe to a new normality.