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Joining the COVID Conversation Online

Reassurance during a resurgence

Getting your communication right during COVID's second wave

New Zealand is still reeling from the shock return of COVID-19. Auckland is in level three lockdown and the entire country is waiting to see what will happen next. Across the ditch, Victoria has been dealing with its own second wave for weeks, with strict border closures, harsh restrictions and tragic deaths.

Like last time, people are feeling stressed and uncertain. Unlike last time, there’s also a strong sense of fatigue – the virus has been around for eight months now and with no real end in sight, people are feeling scared and helpless. Of course, humans are an adaptable bunch so there’s also a strong thread of positivity and optimism – we’ve eliminated the virus once so we can do it again!

For brands, it’s a tricky time to join the online conversation. With such a mix of positivity and despair, it can be difficult to know how to strike the right tone and connect with your customers.

Hopeful and helpful

Some people may be feeling negative, but that doesn’t mean your brand should be. Sure, you can acknowledge the situation and empathise with people’s feelings but you shouldn’t dwell on the downsides.

Along with positive messaging, put your money where your mouth is and do what you can to help your customers. This could be as simple as thanking people for their patience and responding to messages as quickly as possible. It could mean putting aside profits to make things easier – when the lockdown was announced, Les Mills gyms were quick to offer their Auckland customers a pause on their membership fees, a simple but tangible way to show that they care.

Focus on getting through, working together, and hoping for the best – people will remember your optimism and your actions when this is all over.

Humour that fits your brand

To balance the peppy positivity, a bit of comedy can help – as long as it fits into your existing brand voice. If your brand voice is generally witty and light-hearted, it’s important to keep that going. If your social posts abruptly shift to a sombre tone they will come across as insincere.

Kiwi supermarket chain PAK‘nSAVE is a good example – during the crisis, they have used their funny ‘Stickman’ character to demonstrate social distancing and other safety measures, delivering a serious message without changing their brand voice.

Humour can be a welcome distraction and a good way to connect with your customers – just stick to joking about lockdown haircuts or Zoom mishaps, not the virus itself.

Looking back, looking forward

In times of stress and strife, nostalgia can be a powerful form of escapism. People are stuck in their homes – again – and looking for distraction wherever they can find it.  

If your brand has old ads, throwback images or even a retro slogan or jingle that you can pull out of the archives, it could be a way to give people a lift.

In Australia, VB has been posting hilariously retro ads in ‘throwback Thursday’ posts, while McDonald’s New Zealand reimagined their classic Kiwiburger jingle for 2020. Neither is strictly related to COVID, but they’re both entertaining, mood-boosting and a reminder of happier times in the past – and the future. Definitely what we all need right now.

Insight and empathy at a tough time

Stay positive, use gentle humour, embrace nostalgia and stick to your brand voice – if you’re looking for a simple lockdown social media strategy, you could do worse. But it’s also essential to get insight into what’s happening online – if things get worse or the public mood changes, you need to be able to tweak your messaging to suit the situation.

Zavy’s Radar tool can help. It analyses thousands of news stories, social posts, likes and comments, and gives you valuable insight into current conversations and sentiment online. It’s a simple way to guide your social and content strategy and help you empathise with your audience.

Want to know how your customers are coping with the second wave? Sign up for a free trial of Radar, Zavy's social listening tool, today.

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© Zavy 2021
© Zavy 2021