Even as stay at home orders are rescinded and the world settles into its new normal, social distancing will likely remain in place. How social media might be used in the coming weeks and months is uncertain, as is the power of marketing as the country – and world – meets these challenges. That may require influencers to evolve with the changes in the evolving platforms.
In part one and two of this three-part series on post-pandemic social media marketing, experts in the field discuss the role that influences played – as well as how influencers have been adapting.
It may not be enough to simply adapt to the new normal of the post-pandemic world; instead social media influencers may need to “pivot” to stay relevant.
While a pivot usually occurs when a company makes a fundamental change to its core business – Netflix is an example that pivoted from being a DVD-by-mail rental business to a streaming service; while Flicker began as an online role-playing game called Neverending, which found that its photo-sharing tool was the most popular aspect of the game.
Be More Aspirational
For social media influencers a pivot won’t mean such a fundamental shift. These individuals can remain influencers but the way they connect with audiences to use their influence may be what needs to make the pivot as we come out of the coronavirus pandemic.
“If the influencer is creating a world on their channel that’s more ‘aspirational’ than it is useful, then the balance of that content is skewed,” suggested Laurie Buckle, founder of CookIt Media, an influencer marketing agency that specializes in food and lifestyle content creation.
“The influencer’s obligation is to meet the reader where they’re at,” she explained. “Doing that now is requiring that they – and the brands they work with – pivot to address the issues important to all of us at a human level. Being tone deaf to the current situation will alienate audiences who feel overwhelmed, anxious, and unsure of the future.”
The connection to the audience will also require a pivot.
“(The influencers) should try to relate to their audiences as best as they can – tailoring their normal content, and thinking about how it can be leveraged at home,” said Marshall Sandman, host of the Instagram Live series @SpillingtheQuarantea and influencer marketing expert.
“For example, if they normally promote new bars or restaurants, they can offer up unique cocktail recipes to make at home,” added Sandman. “If they previously showcased fashion events on their feeds, they can demonstrate how to purge or reorganize their closets.”
For social media marketing it may not just need to be the influencers that need to make the pivot either. Brands will have to pivot to this changing world as large gatherings are on hold, and everything from restaurants to movie theaters to fitness clubs are forced to operate at vastly reduced capacity.
“With COVID-19 transforming the way consumers and businesses connect, social media is the new IRL, and many brands are taking notice and action,” said Chris Bower, Fullscreen Brand Group spokesperson and senior vice president of sales and brand partnerships.
Those brands that could win and stay relevant during this time – and even into the future – are the ones staying authentic and sensitive and predicting what the world will look like after the pandemic, added Bower.
“They are looking at what the new normal will be and pivoting strategy by throwing out the marketing 101 playbook that is no longer relevant,” Bower noted. “From health brands partnering with creators to design at-home and livestream workouts, to fast casual brands hosting virtual lunches with creators and fans, brands are getting creative with how they pivot, provide value, and build audience relationships.”
Delays And Cancellations
We’ve seen that professional sports have been put on hold, the fall TV season is unlikely to be anything but reality TV and possibly remote game shows, so influencers and brands must also pivot to adjust to the changing reality.
“While brand deals may be put on pause or canceled, influencers can focus on building their followings with genuine and honest content, while networking with brands and industry contacts so they’re top-of-mind when brand campaigns increase again,” noted Sandman.
Yet, at the same time brands can’t simply put everything on hold either.
“It’s crucial for brands to stay in-market during this time; and brands and influencers will need to continue to innovate when it comes to relating to their communities,” said Bower. The emphasis should be less on sales and lower funnel messaging, but rather, refocused on messaging in order to connect with your audience and build a deeper bond.”
Skip The Pivot
The counter thinking from some marketers is that such pivots may not even be necessary or required. Rather increased focus could be a better course of action.
“Brands and influencers won’t necessarily need to ‘pivot,’ but they will have to be hyper-focused, and unwavering with their ability to consistently deliver high-quality, on-brand content,” said Jared Augustine, co-founder & CEO of social marketing platform Julius.
“If it isn’t utilitarian, entertaining, or relatable, it should be cut from the content calendar,” Augustine suggested.
“With limited real-life social interactions, consumers are being pulled in a million different digital directions all the time. Influencers and marketers need to focus on grabbing attention quickly before their target audience jumps onto the 100th Zoom meeting of the day,” said Augustine.
How exactly could this be pulled off is the question however.
“By listening,” said Augustine. “Brands need to listen to influencers to know what they actually want to create, and what their audiences want to see. Lockdown has been so nuanced and unique for everyone and making broad assumptions about what influencers and consumers want isn’t going to resonate, and could lead to disengagement.”
We will get through this, and as Buckle added, “Content that helps them navigate the world they live in now, that informs and inspires them, will go a long way toward retaining and even building audiences.”
Edited BY Harry Miller
Media firms, celebrities join #BlackOutTuesday protests – The Globe and Mail
Major broadcasters, celebrities and music streaming companies including Apple Music and Spotify turned off or made changes to their services on Tuesday to mark their solidarity with protests against the killing of George Floyd.
ViacomCBS Inc said it will be on “on pause” for #BlackOutTuesday to reflect on recent events and to shift focus from “building business to building community.”
The company on Monday had its channels, including CBS News, MTV and Comedy Central, transmit 8 minutes and 46 seconds of breathing sounds with the words “I can’t breathe,” denouncing the incident last week that sparked protests across America.
A Minneapolis police officer was arrested last week on third-degree murder and manslaughter charges for his role in the death of the 46-year-old Floyd.
Celebrities including Rihanna, Katy Perry, Britney Spears and Kylie Jenner all went dark on social media to acknowledge Floyd’s death.
NBA stars including LeBron James and Steph Curry posted an empty black photo on their Instagram pages. The league’s official page posted the same photo with the hashtag “#NBATogether.”
Streaming giant Spotify Technology said it would feature an 8 minute and 46 second long track of silence in select podcasts and playlists on Tuesday, while also halting social media publications.
Apple Music said it would use the day to reflect and plan actions to support black artists, creators and communities.
Dozens of artists and sports stars have spoken out against Floyd’s death and the racism they say lay behind it as the protests spread through U.S. cities.
Leading record labels said they would mark Tuesday by suspending business and working with communities to fight racial inequality.
“Watching my people get murdered and lynched day after day pushed me to a heavy place in my heart!,” Rihanna wrote on Instagram.
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What is Blackout Tuesday? The social media trend and controversy around it, explained – For The Win
Welcome to FTW Explains: a guide to catching up on and better understanding stuff going on in the world.
You may have seen a hashtag at the top of social media trends —#BlackoutTuesday — this morning. You may have also seen some people criticizing the movement, and wondered exactly what is going on.
That’s what this post is for. We’re here to explain what’s going on with this movement, which started in the music industry but appears to have seeped into other businesses, but it’s also caused some controversy.
Let’s break it all down for you, starting with the first question you might have.
What is Blackout Tuesday?
As protests and unrest over the death of George Floyd continue around the United States, a movement was started by music execs Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang, who wrote on a site that Tuesday, June 2 would be a day to pause all business and take a stand against the “racism and inequality that exists from the boardroom to the boulevard.”
The movement would take the form of people posting all black pictures to Instagram and other social media platforms.
Who is participating?
Artists from Quincy Jones to Mick Jagger, with music companies and studios, all announced they would be participating ahead of June 2:
How do people join in?
They post a completely black square on social media, like these companies, sports teams and celebrities did, with the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday or #TheShowMustBePaused.
You said there were criticisms about the movement?
Part of the controversy stems with the use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. Many people participating in the movement are using the hashtag along with their posts. But the hashtag #blacklivesmatter is normally used as a tool for protestors to communicate information through social media.
With the blackout, it’s being rendered useless as a hashtag. Now, when people click on the hashtag, they’re being confronted with a sea of black squares and not with anything about what’s going on with protests across the country.
But there are also larger complaints about the movement, saying this is a time to spread awareness, and not just literally “black out” social media feeds. There are arguments that now, more than ever, is when communication shouldn’t be “blacked out.”
Are there any proposed solutions?
To start, organizers are asking users to stop tagging those images with #BlackLivesMatter and stick with either #BlackoutTuesday or #TheShowMustBePaused.
Wuhan doctor at whistleblower's hospital dies from coronavirus, state media report – CTV News
BEIJING, CHINA —
A Wuhan doctor who worked with coronavirus whistleblower Li Wenliang died of the virus on Tuesday, state media reported, becoming China’s first COVID-19 fatality in weeks.
Hu Weifeng, a urologist at Wuhan Central Hospital, passed away after being treated for COVID-19 and allied issues for more than four months, state broadcaster CCTV said.
He is the sixth doctor from Wuhan Central Hospital to have died from the virus, which emerged in the central Chinese city late last year.
Cases have dwindled dramatically from the peak in mid-February as the country appears to have brought the outbreak largely under control.
The official death toll in the country of 1.4 billion people stands at 4,634 — well below the number of fatalities in less populous nations.
Wuhan Central Hospital has yet to give a formal statement on Hu’s death. In early February it said some 68 staff members had contracted coronavirus.
Hu’s condition became a national concern after Chinese media showed images of him with his skin turned black due to liver damage.
Fellow doctor Yi Fan showed similar symptoms, but recovered and has since been discharged from hospital.
The death of their colleague Li Wenliang in February triggered a national outpouring of grief and rage against the government as he documented his final days on social media.
The 34-year-old ophthalmologist was reprimanded by authorities after he warned colleagues about the virus in late December.
Beijing has since named him a national martyr, but suppressed much of the dissent and criticism sparked by his death.
Other medical whistleblowers at Wuhan Central Hospital — including emergency unit director Ai Fen — have told Chinese media they were punished by authorities for speaking out.
China has not released a complete figure of the number of medical worker deaths from COVID-19, but at least 34 medics have been awarded posthumous honours by health authorities.
In February the National Health Commission said about 3,387 health workers had been infected.
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