The impact of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, is being felt by millions of people across the globe. While nobody knows how long this period will last, I believe it's important for companies to try to find some semblance of normalcy.
To do so, companies should consider all the ways they can continue to move forward with an eye toward empathy. This mindset comes with its own unique restrictions and challenges as human behaviors evolve.
With the rise of social distancing and limits around public gatherings, people are moving away from live entertainment, such as movie theaters, plays, sporting events and concerts. Instead, they are spending more time streaming their favorite movies and shows, browsing social media, and playing video games from the comfort of their homes. In lieu of socializing at restaurants and bars, people are connecting with colleagues, friends and loved ones digitally, and many are doing their shopping via e-commerce.
Within the advertising industry, a lot has changed — and likely will continue to change — as new developments unfold. Video filming and production are no longer viable methods for producing content amid remote work, and it’s become a challenge for brands to engage with consumers in real life given social restrictions. But where there is change, there is opportunity. Now more than ever, brands should consider how to create meaningful connections with audiences within the context of this new reality while maintaining the integrity of their business.
With consumers spending more time at home, I've observed influencer marketing strategies are shifting. For many brands, this is a time to experiment with advertising mediums that might not have previously been viable from a time or resource perspective. Unlike television and radio ads, influencer marketing can be facilitated remotely while offering a way to connect with communities more organically.
While the current news cycle might be draining, creators can be a positive force for audiences looking to escape with laughter, learning and motivation. Maybe you can share a video of a quick self-care routine at home, a simple dinner recipe for two or an arts-and-crafts tutorial. Regardless of the scenario, brands and creators should work together to produce content that reflects and respects remote work culture, rather than in-your-face branded content that can feel off-color during trying times.
Another powerful way for brands and creators to work together is charitable giving. Partnering with influencers to highlight organizations, such as Feeding America and the CDC Foundation, that are actively helping people gain access to medical, financial and educational aid during challenging times is incredibly important. Brands have the resources, and creators have the exposure — together, they can be a force for good.
Event marketing is a crucial way for brands to get face time with clients and consumers, whether through large-scale industry events or smaller fashion show pop-ups and retail activations. Rather than canceling or postponing these gatherings, brands should consider bringing people together virtually and giving them a sense of community in a time when they might feel otherwise isolated. Today, there are plenty of livestreaming options available, such as Zoom, Instagram live, Twitch and YouTube, among others.
While the thought of hosting a virtual event might seem more daunting than social, there are creative add-ons that can add a deeper pizazz and really bring the event to life. Support local businesses by partnering with a restaurant or grocery store to get meals delivered to all participants, thus giving them a shared experience. Dazzle viewers with a livestream of their favorite comedians or performing artists. Integrate an interactive, digital fundraising activity for charity. Right now, the industry has the opportunity to stand out, get creative and perfect the art of digital connection.
With each of these tactics, the most important aspects for advertisers to keep in mind are maintaining a strong sense of authenticity and sensitivity. Most importantly, avoid anything that could be deemed opportunistic.
Plenty of brands are helping consumers out by offering free services, aid to local communities or, at the very least, providing uplifting social media content. These small efforts go a long way in building genuine relationships with consumers. At the same time, it’s important to make sure that every effort aligns with brand values and goals. There’s a lot that we can do to keep our industry going, so get moving.