In January 2020, there were 3.8 billion social media users around the globe, an increase of more than 9% over the previous year.1 Six months later, the estimate was 3.96 billion social media users worldwide, representing more than half of the global population. The data shows that social media usage is growing faster now than it was at the start of the year.2 While these numbers suggest there’s a lot to gain by using social media marketing, Rochester businesses may have concerns about how to approach strategy given the current social climate in the U.S.
It’s certainly not business as usual on social media platforms. 2020 has been a tumultuous year. The early spring began with lockdowns put in place the slow the spread of COVID-19. 2020 continued into the summer with the racial justice protests. And as the year winds down, tension remains high before the election. How have social media users responded to the events of 2020? How should that impact your social media marketing strategy for the future?
Consumer Sentiment and Behavior in 2020
It’s not surprising that people have been anxious this year. The country is divided, and many have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. In March, social media users were having conversations about connection, support, and were looking for ways to be uplifted. Throughout that month, they sent 19.5 million messages about helping others.3 Research also shows that people expected brands to help bring them together.3
But even though social media users were looking for positive and unifying brand messages, they also voiced support for things to return to normal.3 They were not opposed to brands running promotions or regular advertising that wasn’t focused on the turmoil in the country.
Purchasing behavior has also changed this year. This is most likely due to lockdowns preventing traditional in-store shopping. But a high unemployment rate also caused people to be careful about their spending. Back-to-school shopping was expected to be a disappointment compared to the previous year because of the many school districts that were planning to take a remote approach to learning, and CNN reported that it was off to a slow start4. But since purchases were likely to include higher-ticket items like laptops and desks, retailers may have some good news to report.5
Changes in Holiday Shopping
With the holidays approaching, retailers are admittedly nervous since this holiday season will look very different from those of the recent past. In 2019, holiday shopping overwhelmingly shifted to e-commerce, and Cyber Monday 2019 saw a 20% increase in spending over the previous year.6 It was mostly younger people who accounted for the move to online spending. But this year’s shopping may see older generations relying on e-commerce since they’ve become more accustomed to shopping this way due to the shutdown of brick-and-mortar stores. In an eight-week period, e-commerce grew more than it had during the past decade.6
Despite consumer anxiety and a focus on saving money, Pinterest users began to search and save for the holidays early this year. Searches and saves on the social media platform in April 2020 jumped 77% compared to April 2019.6 People searching early on may reflect their recognition that money was going to be tight and they needed to plan ahead. But it could also mean that they were looking forward to the holiday season hoping it might provide comfort during this difficult year.
Suggested Social Media Messaging Strategy for the Remainder of 2020
Businesses may be wondering how they should talk to their fans and followers for the remainder of this year and the start of 2021. The messaging strategy must manage to project sensitivity to their current and prospective customers, and marketing objectives may need to change.
Plan For Crisis Communications
If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to prepare a crisis communication plan. Review the events of the year, and determine if you would have changed the way your company responded. Craft your company’s position on social issues. Then develop a strategy for how you will communicate to the public on social media. Even if you never need to use this strategy, it’s vital that you have it ready in case you need it. Social media users will expect a timely response.
Spend More Time Online
Plan to check your social media pages frequently to make sure that whatever you’ve scheduled is appropriate for the current social climate. With the many campaigns that urge consumers to boycott companies for their response (or lack thereof) to current events, it’s crucial for you to stay on top of your messaging strategy. It could be a devastating blow if people perceive your business as tone-deaf.
Consider Using This Time To Drive Awareness
Review your schedule for product launches or big sales campaigns. Consider whether it makes sense to move ahead with the schedule or postpone some of it. Given current consumer attitudes, could what you’re planning to promote be interpreted as insensitive? Is it in touch with users’ current needs? Or does it appear like you’re attempting to cash in on a crisis? If you do need to postpone a launch or a campaign, it may be best to use social media to focus on awareness and brand building rather than a conduit for generating sales leads. If you can, include a plan to give back to hard-hit communities or support a popular charity. This is one thing you can do to give back, and social media users may view your company more favorably.
Talk About Specific Ways You’ll Service Customers
Since consumers indicated that they do want to see companies try to inject some normalcy around the idea of spending, if you are going to announce a promotion or campaign, it’s wise to show that you’re sensitive to consumers’ needs during this time. Communicate the ways in which you can provide both safety and convenience, and explain how your brand can provide value in a manner that resonates with consumers’ expectations for customer support during this time.
2020 Social Media Marketing Rochester
If your company is struggling to figure out how to develop social media marketing plans during this unusual year, Full Circle SEM can help to create a strategy that will take you through the remainder of 2020 and into the next year. Full Circle SEM is a metric-driven marketing firm that delivers measurable results to its clients while protecting the bottom line. Whether it’s search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, or social media marketing, Rochester businesses rely on us for expertise, professionalism, and positive results. Call us at 888-757-2714 or contact us here to learn more about our services.