What does Corona-virus mean for brands on social media?

Brands Are Under Fire!


A Make Or Break Moment

The coronavirus pandemic represents unchartered territory for businesses. Companies are being challenged on multiple levels with consumers asking questions not just about their advertising, but also about their core values, how they treat their employees and factory workers, and how they’re contributing to the cause. Modern consumers are savvy.

They demand transparency and see-through posturing. As social specialists, we sit close to culture and are exposed to feedback and critique. Social media provides consumers with a direct line to brands, and consumers are using that to question and challenge us.

However, while businesses are under scrutiny and even at the risk of bankruptcy, the coronavirus pandemic also offers an opportunity for brands to rise to the occasion and make a memorable impact.

How Should We Act?

People’s health, livelihoods and wellness are being impacted by coronavirus. Think about the state of mind and changing behaviors of your audience right now, and make sure that your brand is following these five principles:

1. Listen First. Listen to what consumers are saying then respond.

2. Be Sensitive. Re-evaluate content for tone and message.

3. Be Transparent. Communicate openly and take feedback.

4. Adapt Your Strategy. Adapt your strategy based on new behaviors.

5. Rise To The Occasion. Consider ways your brand can help.



If you haven’t done so already, put in place a process to listen first, then respond. Educate your team on what to look out for and how to reply. Update your guidelines and FAQ’s to ensure that social messaging is consistent with other channels. Here are two areas to consider:

1. Keywords to monitor include: your brand name and #coronavirus, #COVID19, #CoronavirusOutbreak, #coronovirus, #coronovirus, #covid2019, #Covid_19, #Coronavid19, #flattenthecurve, #socialdistancing, #coronapocalypse, #QuarantineAndChill, #coronavirususa, #coronapocolypse, #HighRiskCovid19, #coronavirusupdates, #stayhomesavelives, #IStayHome, #Handwashing, #SafeHands, #HandWashChallenge, #WashYourHands 3. Listen to the Conversation on Paid Ads: Keep an eye out for shifts in consumer behavior on your ads. Be prepared to pause ads, shift budget or revise creative based on consumer response.



Use the checklist below to evaluate your brand’s live content, upcoming posts, opportunity moments, and organic content. Consider pausing or revising content that may not be well received in the current social climate.




How you’re helping fight the coronavirus itself.

It’s hard to imagine a better advertisement for a brand than, “We’re helping fight the worst pandemic in 100 years.” GM is helping manufacture ventilators, as is Dyson. Gap, Nike and Brooks Brothers are making protective scrubs and masks. Jetblue is flying medical professionals and supplies free of charge. While not every brand can play a meaningful role here, some that you wouldn’t expect–from LVMH to Razer to Budweiser–have joined the fight in incredibly ambitious and creative ways. And the world has noticed.

How you’re helping other businesses and people.

Even if they’re not actually helping ‘bend the curve’, many brands are stepping up in other meaningful ways. In a time of stress, Headspace has made free meditations available. Comcast is helping people stay connected by making their Wi-Fi hotspots free. Since children are cooped up and distance learning, Audible is offering free audiobooks for kids. Letting people know you’re there for them in an email is nice–actually doing something for them is much better.


And here’s a final thought.

If you’re actually helping fight the virus or helping people cope with it, don’t worry about crafting the perfect message. Keep it simple. In fact, the more you ‘brand’ the message, the more you obscure how you’re helping, and the more potentially self-serving it appears. Just tell us what it is you’re doing.

Marshall McLuhan famously wrote, “The medium is the message.”

For brands during a crisis, the action is the message. So until the worst of this crisis has passed, don’t be like Bill the car salesman–let your actions do the talking.

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