Staying Social While Social Distancing: How brands are using social media during COVID-19 pandemic

Social media has become an important part of our personal and professional lives as social distancing practices settle. For brands, the real-time reach available to deliver messaging straight to the consumer is a huge benefit during these unusual times. As COVID-19 evolves, best practices are continuously being updated and released; we read the newest information at breakfast and by lunchtime there’s a change. That’s why it’s critical for brands to stay alert and be willing to change their game plans as needed.

Almost everyone has had to shift gears in response to COVID-19. Take a close look at the restaurant space: dine-in restaurants that didn’t rely heavily on their take-out or delivery services – if they even existed – had to suddenly shut down all dine-in operations. When bars were shut down in the state of California, permission was granted to restaurants to include alcoholic beverages as part of their take-out and delivery services. In all cases, many restaurants looked to social media to share their relay their messaging quickly and efficiently. “Hey, you can’t drink at our restaurant, but we can bring the libations to you!” Quick. Simple. Announced in no time. Thanks, social media!

With the nation confined to homes, social media has also provided brands with a greater audience reach during the pandemic. Consider how many more people are focused on their phones and computers, relying on social media to keep track of what’s going on in the world. Are we staying at home? Can we travel? Who’s open? Where can we get essential resources? Where is my stimulus check? Many of these topics are discussed through social channels in the absence of face-to-face conversation.

It must also be acknowledged that social media outpaces traditional media with regard to how information is communicated. According to Top Media, 79% of Americans have a social media profile and spend two hours a day on average using social media—and that was before stay-at-home order were put into place!

Now, how can you use social media to your advantage?

The best way to make an impact with your social followers is simply to talk to them. Updating consumers on current operating situations is a good start; for example, share hours of operation, services being offered, current response and current delivery times. Engaging with consumers and followers through social is one of the key purposes of these platforms. Get to know your audience as people, converse with them and exchange thoughts. Companies that are successful in the world of social media are able to demonstrate consistent engagement with followers. Utilize features like Facebook live and Instagram stories to share content your audience like to see. Get creative and share tips: show how to properly plate a meal, share best practices for storing leftovers, explain cooking terminology, and have one of your restaurant chefs record a cooking demo. Becoming a source for information for your audience will make you their hero.

Brands are moving quickly to open lines of communication and get to know their fans via social media. More than ever before, consumers have ample time on their hands, increasing their likelihood to be more open and engaged. People staying home have few options for socialization— may as well strike up conversations with the brands we know and trust. Brands would be wise to realize this potential and up their social game on social. One day when we’re in the clear from COVID-19, these stronger connections will remain, resulting in consumers and brands growing better relationships.

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