While America and Europe close their borders to stem the spread of the virus outbreak, people are left shaken by the devastating effects it might have on the everyday walk of life, especially for businesses. Economy plunging deep into recession, the pandemic has crippled tourism companies, travel and stock markets altogether. It seems like it’s not just a ripple effect throughout the world. It’s a tidal wave.
While governments are left to strategize the best possible solution,apple and google introduce feature to track coronavirus, social media groups and comment sections have become ground zero to debate if these extreme measures are, if at all, justified. “This is just an overreaction.” remarked one person over the travel restrictions placed on citizens. Others, however, in the thread of 1.1K comments supported the decision. For better or worse, such discussions are what shape our perspective on the situation.
We are now seeing the significance of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter as they play their part in letting sensationalism spread like wildfire. Of course, this plethora of information, that didn’t exist during past major breakouts, equips us with real-time data we need to make smart decisions. While people are practicing self-isolation, social media has become a venting platform for dealing with an unprecedented crisis. It has allowed people to come together and go through it together, despite the distance.
For marketers and PR professionals, it’s essential to analyze the sentiment around this crisis to understand consumer behavior. According to ContentStudio’s Sentiment Analysis which is based on the algorithms evaluating the articles, the negativity around the situation seems to have placated. This might suggest that people are becoming more aware of the coronavirus but not necessarily fearful.
Effect of CoronaVirus on Businesses
Modern life has been upended in this new era where restaurants, movie theaters, bars, and other businesses have either closed down or have been forced to make a shift online. Triggering a wave of layoffs, companies and consumers alike, are cutting back on their spending.
This obvious change will be drastic and will have lasting effects on the years to come. 18% of American workers have either lost their jobs or have had hours cut from work schedules, according to a survey released from NPR, PBS, and Maris. While the United States is offering a $1 trillion stimulus package to Americans to help with their businesses and daily life, and Canada has introduced emergency packages to alleviate the situation of its citizens. Many are left to wonder about the effectiveness of these measures. Will they help? For how long?
The virus has considerably wreaked havoc for the brick-and-mortar sellers of “nonessential” items.
Shifting Online, Grab N Go
Most cafes and restaurants have shifted to a purely “Grab and Go” system, like Starbucks. Similarly, Sprinkles, a local California-based cupcake bakery chain faced backlash on social media for continuing to operate despite tenuous circumstances. Consequently, upon hearing concerns, they shifted to an online pre-order, pick-up system.
As WHO advises everyone to practice social distancing, many brands have started to put coronavirus precautions into its commercials. Hershey Co. has pulled away from advertisements focused on human interaction and started to focus on product-based ads. These only feature text, voiceover, and chocolate bars.
Social Media Practices to follow:
- Create awareness through Authentic Sources
If your brand has a high following, make sure you use that to your advantage and spread awareness about the issue at hand. It becomes your responsibility to share only the authentic sources. We have seen a lot of misconceptions, myths, and fake news spreading. Take it into your hands to disseminate factual information on how to combat the virus and the precautions that can be taken. For example, the World Health Organisation (WHO) could be a trusted source during this crisis.
Even if you think everybody knows about washing hands, or practicing social distancing, they still need to be reminded about it often. That is why it is your responsibility to make sure you educate them. Play your part in combating this virus!
Remind them it is important to wash their hands, or to keep mindful of the key symptoms. While hospitals, with limited test kits, are getting swamped with alarmed patients who may or may not have the virus, it is important to visit hospitals only if you diagnose yourself correctly.
- Offer convenience
In these distressing times, it is best to offer convenience to your customers. Don’t exploit your customers for profits. We are seeing a lot of marketers exploiting fear by selling the essential items for 50x the price. Don’t attempt to make a quick buck in this situation, as it is only a short-sighted approach and will hurt your brand image.
Offering other alternatives will go a long way, and create an impression that you genuinely care about them, and thereby, building a strong relationship.
Many airlines, such as Emirates, have made sure to offer flexible rebooking policy, free-of-charge. This is such a good initiative in the perspective that the brand might lose revenue, but earn better brand reputation, trust, and respect.
- Maintain an efficient customer service
Keep a close eye on what your customers are talking about, and respond accordingly. As mentioned before, the travel industry has taken a hit and is said to be bankrupt by May. Similar is the case with lodging companies like AirBnb. Upon receiving volumes of customer inquiries about bookings and cancellations, AirBnb have updated their terms and conditions to cancel bookings without charges. This is a crucial moment for them to be active on social media and respond to concerns accordingly.
- Be considerate of what you post on social media:
Make sure that, if you have planned a marketing campaign prior to the crisis, you are considerate of the situation at hand. Otherwise, it will quickly backfire.
If you’re facing difficulty handling your social media, use the multi-colored Content Category style=”font-weight: 400;”> to segregate different kinds of posts, according to the time you want them. This automation of social media will boost your productivity levels while working remotely, allowing you to allot your time on other activities.
You can view them later to see the different categories of posts you’ve scheduled for your business, and approve/reject accordingly.
Slack is more than just a chat box. It’s a digital workspace that helps in the communication among the team members. With an endless array of integrations, you can share ideas and comments in real time so everything keeps moving at a fast pace.
With employees working remotely, communication becomes tricky.
Employees gain more flexibility and have a shot at developing a healthier routine while working remotely, but there is still a sizable impact that in-office interactions drive compared to work-from-home lifestyles. Is this a disadvantage? Not if you see it as an opportunity to drive efficiency.
Here’s where ContentStudio comes in. It allows large teams to effectively communicate and collaborate on projects by providing real-time interaction on ongoing projects. You can assign tasks by mentioning team members, comment on drafts, preview progress, monitor activity, and version history. Managers can fully coordinate with their team members using this seamless workflow.
Furthermore, ContentStudio offers in-depth analytics of social media channels and all pages/ groups associated with them. This way not only can you show the effectiveness of your strategy but convince the decision-makers about the future plan of action. Cement your authority with social proof in the form of charts and graphs. Add your manager in the reporting section so they get automated results of your account’s performance.
A cloud storage platform to keep your files secure in one centralized location. Sharing documents, spreadsheets and slide presentations will prove to be quite beneficial for remote workers. Moreover, these files can also be synced across all the devices.
This California-based start-up is a perfect tool for face-to-face or audio meetings. Especially if you’re working remotely, it comes quite in handy for multi-participant meetings. The free version of Zoom allows up to 100 participants, so if you’re a small business, it’s perfect for you.
At some point, probably in a few months, we might be relieved to return to our offices. When we are no longer bound with the necessity of social distancing and this COVID-19 crisis abates, we will feel thankful for the things we didn’t value before.
However, it could also shift the entire dynamic of working patterns as companies may realise that employees do not want to return to offices, once this pandemic subsides. People are already starting to question why they had to go to the office at all.
It is true that as millions continue to learn and work remotely, internet networks will be strained to a hilt. Seattle, the epicenter of the virus outbreak in America, started internet traffic spiking on January 30th, only 9 days after the first positive case of the virus. Remote work virtual teams are much in consideration, Internet traffic has seen massive hike, while AT&T, Verizon and Charter prepare to increase capacity on their networks. To keep more people online during this natural crisis, they are upgrading networks and cell towers.
It has also presented opportunities for certain businesses like Slack and Zoom, and tech giants like Google and Microsoft that are offering their tools for free. Scribd has offered free access to its library for all the people without access to reading materials.
These business strategies will be effective as people might continue to use them once normality ensues.
Going through a recession, you will find that you have less competition in the market. This might make it easier to get faster results, and you might get concessions on deals such as PPC advertisements.
If you’re lucky enough to have your business operational during this time, you can double up your marketing efforts. However, it is possible that you will see a long-term return.
Hopefully, this pandemic subsides soon enough. However, we cannot ignore the gravity of the situation as it has hobbled the economy, swamped the hospitals, and taken the lives of thousands. Therein lies the truth in the matter: we need to be prepared for how it will affect our business. In the meanwhile, practice social distancing and do our best to flatten the curve.
Stay healthy and active! 🙂
Mariyum Noor is a content marketer who is passionate about learning new things! She writes research-based blog posts for SaaS platforms that are seeking better ways to delight and engage their readers.