Updated: Mar 31, 2020
If you had told me in December that the entirety of Houston would come to a halt mid-March I would’ve guessed it was because of some terrible trade Bill O’Brien did for the Texans. Unfortunately, that is not the case, I mean Bill O’Brien did just trade arguably the best receiver in the NFL for an accident-prone running back and a stupid second-round pick, but I digress.
The world has come to almost an entire stop due to the novel coronavirus. The virus, which originated in the city of Wuhan, China, has spread globally and claimed thousands of lives. The dire circumstances and the fact that we know little to nothing about the virus has pushed governments to cancel gatherings of as little as 50 people in some places, and in other places like Italy, it has just completely shut down the country. These measures have led to people in America hoarding up toilet paper and water bottles, for whatever reason.
If it feels like I am being a little too casual about the coronavirus it’s because, much like you, I too am anxious and scared and I find comfort in comedy. Now don’t get me wrong I did not go out and bought 10 packs of toilet paper, I already had 3 8-roll packs before it all started because I buy a lot when I see a good deal. It’s ok to be worried, anxious, and a little scared, an outbreak like this has not been seen since the Spanish Flu in 1918.
There is something different about this pandemic though, we have the internet. We have a way to remain in contact with our communities, and in times like this nothing could be more important than that. As a brand one is nothing without their community so in times like this it is important to show your community that they are more than just numbers.
Here at AC we brainstormed a few ways brands small and big can keep in contact with their community.
Social Media Outreach
Make sure you are staying connected to your community. While you might be inclined to push your social media advertisements at this time, it is also important that you are connecting with your followers in a more organic way.
The first thing to do is to post about your own office. Letting people know that your staff will be working from home in order to slow the spread of the virus lets them know you care more than just bout money.
After that do a couple of posts asking your audience how they are coping with social distancing, ask them what they would typically do on a day like this and then respond to them. Do people like to go to the gym on Thursday evening? Comment on how great it is to see that type of commitment. Does someone like hitting their favorite Tex-Mex restaurant every Tuesday night for dinner? Maybe mention what your favorite Tex-Mex dish is. Build a certain level of familiarity with your community so that when this is all over you will be the first brand they think about.
One of my favorite social media posts this week came from Kotaku, they posted a simple thread on which people could just vent. Now Kotaku is videogame publication so most of the posts were gaming related, but you can make it fun and relate it to your own industry. If you sell clothes let people rant about how dresses rarely have pockets (that’s actually quite infuriating), if you are a restaurant let people complain about how when they take stuff off a dish it doesn’t become less expensive but when they add it does (what’s up with that). Have un with it, be creative, be genuine.
We are not saying don’t run ads on social media, but maybe dial it back a bit and by god please don’t try to sell a resort vacation right now.
Just because your customers cannot come to the store does not mean they do not want to buy your product. Email marketing can be very effective in times like this, buying and trying on new clothes can give people a much-needed sense of normalcy.
A good idea would be to send discounts to your newsletter subscribers and advertise this over social media. This could potentially produce many new leads for you while maintaining your sales cycle.
Your loyal fans are still going to want to buy your product, show them that loyalty goes both ways with discounts for them. Just one thing, when you do this please do not make a discount code like "COVID19" or something insensitive like that, try "homechic" or "stayinfaves".
Who doesn’t like a fashion show? People trying on different outfits, seeing what new trends are in style, feeling bad out our bodies, it has it all. Of course in this social-distancing times having an actual fashion show is basically out of the question, but what if we strip down the concept to bare basics.
So, what does a fashion show entail? Clothes, at least one model, lights and a camera.
Say you are a fashion brand who wants to show off your spring collection to your customers, but of course they can’t make it to a store to check it out. What do you do? Consider getting a model, a cameraman, and a presenter. You can have the model try on your favorite spring pieces while the presenter explains the finer details. This is a great opportunity to show off your favorite piece of the season while simultaneously engaging your audience. Discuss the patterns, colors, stitching and any other detail you think your client might find interesting.
Another great way to maintain engagement is through a series of interviews with key players in your brand, this can be done one-on-one or through any of the many virtual meeting services available.
You can interview your CEO/founder/etc about how the brand is coping with the outbreak, what they are doing to help in their communities, and even talk about what comes next.
Consider interviewing your lead designer. Ask questions about their creative process, what is inspiring them right now, who they look up to, and what is in store for the next season.
Ultimately, consider interviewing your employees, ask how they are holding up, what they have been doing to pass the time, and what their plans are for once it’s all over.
Check-in with your followers once in a while. Let them know you are doing ok and that you look forward to seeing them all once this is all over. Talk about cool new shows you found or what movies you recommend they check out.
Remind them that you are all going through this together.
Do not be discouraged by the current state of things, take it as an opportunity to solidify yourself as the brand your followers go to in a time like this. This is the perfect time to show your customers that loyalty goes both ways.