What Nonprofits Taught Me About Social Media Marketing (and how it applies to COVID-19)

My Post.pngIt’s no surprise that the coronavirus has caused either a spike or downfall for companies and marketers across the world. Times are scary for sure, not just from a global, economic and healthcare standpoint but as a marketer, it’s hard to know when and what to share. The news is overwhelming and you might even question if it’s okay to continue marketing when people and the economy are hurting. While sales will likely suffer (unless you’re lucky enough to be selling toilet paper, hand sanitizer or face masks), times like this can present an opportunity to increase brand awareness and present your company as one that strives to come alongside people during crisis. Increased brand awareness and building a customer base that knows and trusts you can result in loyal customers during and post pandemic.

I was sitting through a client call the other day brainstorming social strategies for an ecommerce business and realized a lot of their strategy was similar to what I learned in my previous career as a nonprofit professional. I worked in the nonprofit sector for 5 years prior to entering the digital marketing world and a lot of our marketing strategy was based off emotional appeal. This is because service-oriented nonprofits support people during times of struggle. People, specifically donors, enjoy the feeling of being able to make a difference. Successfully figuring out how to reach out to donors is one of the many duties of a nonprofit marketer. Little did I know the skills I learned in the nonprofit world would be relevant to digital marketers during trying times.

Here are some ways to put a positive spin on your ecommerce marketing techniques during these times of uncertainty. I’ve pulled some ads from my favorite brands to share how businesses are utilizing these techniques during times of crisis!

1) Be Sympathetic – Most people don’t appreciate the person who cracks inappropriate jokes at the wrong time at the big family reunion. Don’t be that person. Don’t market images or services that go against social distancing or other protocols in place (Seriously, it will likely be disapproved anyways). Instead, consider messaging that supports your customers in a time of need. Brooks Running even encouraged their customers to support local running stores. This depicts that they’re a company who cares about more than just profit.

2) Do Research On Your Industry- What are some trends, positive or negative within your industry? Be sure to utilize knowledge and data already present. No need to reinvent the wheel entirely!

3) Use Lighthearted Humor – While I absolutely don’t deny the severity of the current crisis, sometimes a bit of tasteful, light-hearted humor can score a win with your customers. Are you a fashion company? Perhaps poke fun at all the remote workers wearing sweatpants all day when working remotely. Are you a grocery delivery service? Then advertise being able to get groceries delivered without walking away from your refrigerator. Get creative with brainstorming fun ways to engage with your customers! Here, Barry’s Bootcamp is poking fun at the fact you don’t even need to change your wardrobe to workout.

4) Interact With Your Customers – Intentionally interacting with your customers shows you care. While several businesses are likely too large to maintain this type of contact with customers, any kind of interaction with customers can be viewed positively! Comment on social media posts if possible and even feel free to go live with stories on Facebook or Instagram. If you’re selling products online, be sure to have stellar customer service or chat commerce. Internet usage is up, especially during times of social distancing so be sure to take advantage of this opportunity. Here, Kodiak Cakes is asking their followers what they eat for breakfast. This is a fun way to get to know your customers and engage with them on social media. – Read more