It’s beautifully explained in the YouTube video “Every COVID-19 Ad is Exactly The
Same," which was posted last month, showing in cringeworthy detail the bland similarities (from the music, to the shots of empty streets, to the “uplifting” voiceover
copy) found in many brand’s TV messaging.
But what about how brands, particularly consumer packaged goods (CPG), are communicating via their social media channels?
How do they avoid the sameness, yet remain relevant?
With social media by the far the go-to source when it comes to COVID-19 updates, the smartest brands have pivoted their messaging to a tone of empathy, understanding, and honesty. The public needs accurate information, positive news, and a little reassurance — especially when we feel like our access to basic necessities is threatened. CPG brands make up the foundation of most shopping, so clear communication is especially important for these brands.
So what should they be doing?
First, forget hard-sell tactics or promoting new products. There’ll be plenty of time for that after the crisis has abated. For now, focus on messaging that inspires and uplifts. For example, Coca-Cola has dedicated its Twitter feed to retweeting information from its charitable partners, such as Feeding America and American Red Cross.
get down to the grassroots level and lead with community-led content. Find out what topics your consumers are discussing, and what they’re concerned about.
Unlike literally every other brand messaging tool, social media allows for back and forth with consumers, so ask them what they want to see. User-generated photos, videos, tips, and stories are a great way for a brand to create a positive experience on social media. Consider Procter & Gamble, which is promoting local broadcasts and streams in disadvantaged communities.
think differently about your video content. With most of us having more time on our hands than ever before, now is the time to engage your audience with longer videos. Have you considered a live
stream? Perhaps that kind of “peek behind the brand curtain” could resonate with consumers looking for something beyond a short, perfectly edited clip.
maybe your editor can take a break. Unpolished videos can show a brand’s personality in powerful ways, while also making them more relatable. Suddenly, you’re not a faceless corporation,
but something that is made by real people.
That’s what Johnson & Johnson is doing with its video series “The Road to a Vaccine,” showcasing how the
organization is trying to develop a vaccine for COVID-19.
When this is all over, we will no doubt be dealing with a new normal, but people will remember the actions that they saw brands take during the crisis. The smart brands are pivoting their social media content towards informing rather than selling, and likely their patience will be rewarded when the world is ready to buy more than just CPG.