Riding Out the Storm on the Social Media Wave

Social Media Wave

As marketing budgets are slashed and companies look to maximise ROI with minimal spend, Melanie Spencer says brands need to be more social media savvy than ever before.


The past few months have been a tricky time for many businesses trying to navigate the economic challenges brought on by Covid-19 and the Lockdown. It’s been a whirlwind watching some businesses run for the hills and others leaning in, pivoting and turning lemons into lemonade.

We all know that advertising spend is often the first thing to go for companies when the world reaches crisis mode, and it was a case of hanging on to our hats when it all hit. However, notable examples show that by doing the opposite and increasing ad and marketing spend, brands are able to carve out a significant place for themselves in the market and reap long-standing benefits.

As a historic example, Kellogg’s doubled advertising spend during the Great Depression to promote their Rice Krispies cereal. As other products stagnated or collapsed, Kellogg’s profits rose by almost 30 percent and they were able to create a strong and long-lasting brand identity.

Strong social

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp have seen a 70 percent increase in time on app and a 21 percent increase in Instagram Story impressions, with individual users seeing their screen time increase between 30-50 percent. As users turn to social media as a news source, communication tool and a source of escapism; brands have the ability to create a presence online that reaches engaged, key audiences like never before.

Brands will need to monitor the return on their spend, and social allows us to pull accurate results for every post and measure the results accordingly. Brands will also need to be more strategic in how they allocate their budgets and will be looking for cost-effective platforms with high returns such as social media and influencer marketing. It’s a no brainer for marketing teams looking for ROI and numbers to take to the CEO and CFO for a signature.

But just how should brands approach this type of marketing?

The Do’s and Don’ts of social media and influencer marketing

  1. Be authentic and genuine in everything that goes live. Your community is super sensitive to anything fake and won’t tolerate being shouted at.
  2. Listen to your community and talk to them. Make them smile (when appropriate) and always be empathetic in every situation.
  3. Be nimble with your content, much can change and quickly.
  4. Now more than ever influencers and brands need to review their collaborations to make sure their values align, that you’re doing it for the right reasons with the right influencers and that you are being sensitive to the situation and not trying to make a “quick buck” off the back of it.
  5. Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want your Mum to hear or see.
  6. Don’t speak negatively about competing brands – remember we’re in this together!

For better or for worse?

  • Social media and digital marketing is here to stay and it will become increasingly important for brands.
  • Experts are predicting the global influencer marketing industry is on track to be worth up to USD$15 billion by 2022 (+Source US Business Insider).
  • Influencers are looking for other revenue sources. While sponsored content has long been a predictable (and essential) source of income for digital creators, the industry has matured well beyond only branded posts, and the influencer economy won’t be destroyed by the economic downturn.
  • The creator industry now includes a bevy of non-ad-revenue opportunities, including content creation, merchandise sales, e-commerce affiliate revenue, recurring subscription income, and a variety of other categories. Influencers engaging in affiliate marketing have seen spikes in eCommerce sales in recent weeks as consumers spend more time at home and shop online.
  • Live content is taking off. “People are more apt to spend 30, 60, or 90 minutes on an influencer or branded livestream, whereas they’re typically only engaging with a static photo on a feed for a couple seconds,” says Ellie Jenkins, an influencer-innovation manager at Mavrck. “That long-term engagement is really powerful for brands.”
  • Brands are focusing on philanthropy and ‘feel good’ messaging for influencer-marketing campaigns.

This article has been modified and was originally published in the NZ Marketing supplement ‘Marketing in Lockdown’. To purchase a copy of the supplement, click here.

Melanie Spencer

About Melanie Spencer

Melanie Spencer is Co-CEO of Socialites and The Social Club.

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