Social Media Relevance And Marketing During The Pandemic

Lion Shirdan is a marketing advisor, creative director and the founder of UPRISE Managementa 360˚ marketing, branding and creative agency.

In ancient Greece, citizens met in the agora, a public space in the center of the city-state for business, politics and social events. Forums like this have long existed as a marketing tool — they centralize businesses in one location where people can browse and buy commodities. Today, many of us meet on digital forums: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, WeChat, etc. Of course, the pandemic has accelerated social media relevance, not only as a pleasure, but also as something of a contemporary necessity. The days when we regarded social media indulgence as a bad habit, or a generational flaw, are essentially gone. Instead, it has become one of the most integral aspects of modern society, particularly amid the pandemic when many of our real-world forums have disappeared. But how do businesses market their products on digital forums?

There’s never been a better time to market on social media. Here are three marketing strategies that capitalize on social media relevance.

1. Choosing the Right Platform

The first step in reaching your consumer base is deducing which social media platforms they are directing their attention toward. Breaking down user demographics can help you further specify your clientele and target audience based on age, gender, income, interests, etc. For example, Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms with over 1 billion monthly active users. However, that statistic alone doesn’t mean Instagram is the right platform for your brand. Forty-nine percent of its users are men, while 51% are women. On LinkedIn, 57% of users are men, and 43% are women. This indicates that female-focused businesses would likely receive a greater ROI by marketing on Instagram.

In terms of age, 38% of US adults ages 18 to 29 use Twitter, compared to only 24% of those 50 and older. Therefore, brands targeting younger consumers would likely receive greater ROI from Twitter, as opposed to brands targeting those 50 and older, 84% of whom have Facebook pages.

2. Capitalizing On Trends

One of the great assets of social media is its proclivity to reveal market trends. During the current crisis, and particularly throughout the mass quarantine stage, many people have attempted to supplement their social deficiency with social media. TikTok has risen in popularity, which has unveiled the habits and upcoming trends of the tech-fluent generation. It has revealed a growing preference for ingesting media through short video clips and to further embrace the vertical video format, which I think hints toward a desire for brevity and a possible shift in filmmaking methods and artistic expression. Several brands, such as Chipotle and Spikeball, have already capitalized on this and committed to platform-specific content with brief, candid and humorous videos. It’s not enough to simply advertise on a given platform. Embracing the methods and habits of its users is essential. Adopting such trends will help you anticipate the market and remain congruent with social currents during this volatile period.

3. Influencer/Celebrity Marketing

As social media grows increasingly relevant, so are its voices and personalities, which is why, as of March, two-thirds of marketers were planning to increase their influencer marketing budgets this year. Partnering with the right influencers can increase brand awareness and yield greater conversions, and understanding the pros and cons of each influencer tier is essential. Macro-influencers typically have follower counts in the hundreds of thousands to millions. Due to their massive audiences, macro-influencers are ideal for generating brand awareness and exposure, although they can cost tens of thousands of dollars. In my experience, gifting campaigns are often an effective alternative to paying influencers. The more valuable the product you gift, the more appreciative the influencer will likely be, incentivizing them to exhibit better content and more enthusiasm for your brand.

Celebrities, or mega-influencers, are also highly effective at developing brand awareness with their large social media followings. Like macro-influencers, they can be very expensive, but their clout and recognition make them very reliable, as their image is a brand itself, so they must maintain credibility and a dependable reputation. If you are going to spend a significant amount of money on influencer marketing, specifically upwards of $50,000 or more, I recommend always spending it on a celebrity. They are consistently more likely to convert than macro-influencers, and from what I’ve seen, retailers are more likely to adopt a brand if it carries a celebrity endorsement and fan base. Celebrities also tend to have broader, verified public relations channels, while influencers are generally limited to social media.

Although mega- and macro-influencers may bolster awareness, they don’t necessarily convert leads into sales. That is the advantage of micro-influencers who, with smaller audiences in the tens of thousands, have developed loyal, niche followings. As a result, micro-influencers often have much higher engagement with their followers, as opposed to macro-influencers and celebrities who often have less personal, clout-based followings. Engagement is a small but important factor when considering influencers, as it indicates how authentically and organically the influencer will endorse your brand, and whether it will resonate with their audience. Analyzing their social media accounts for bot followers, the number of comments and like-to-follower ratios are effective strategies in determining engagement and whether an influencer will inspire sales.

Many of our conventional strategies may have evaporated with the advent of the current crisis, but social media’s growing relevance has diversified marketing avenues. Using demographics to choose ideal platforms, capitalizing on trends and investing in influencer marketing can help you sustain your brand and reach your clientele. As the world changes, we must remember to turn our problems into possibilities and our obstacles into opportunities.

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