A Post for the Times

I don’t think it’s overly surprising that recent events have resulted in an uptick of social media use and before you hit the delete button, this is not a pitch to hire a digital ad agency in Phoenix that specializes in social media advertising … swear.

You’ll have to read on to see if I’m lying.

But again, let me reiterate that pretty much every social media platform across the board has seen a greater level of engagement these past 10 weeks. I might work in some actual statistics on this later, but for now let’s just go with the fact that global pandemics and civil unrest drive social media usage.

Typically, media platforms are all super stoked when usage trends upwards. I’m not going to speak for them but I would guess that they prefer less tragic circumstances driving numbers up, but ultimately, this is good for them regardless of how bad it is for all of us.

Marketers love statistics and point to them to reinforce their value. So, if I tell you that Instagram has seen a 13.8% spike in user engagement and you were advertising on Instagram you might be seeing better results from that campaign based on the increased usage. Right? That’s the potential upside.

On Facebook, engagement is up nearly 5% which seems small until you realize that it has 26 billion users interacting with it each month. More upside.

As with any upside, there is a downside.

This downside is when brands and people affiliated with said brands look to social media as a platform to vent frustrations, make unpopular political statements, or stake an aggressive position on a controversial subject.

Social media is a great platform for your brand to go beyond the ad. It gives your product or service a voice, a way of interacting with customers, and a way to tell a better story. Social media can serve as your brand’s conscience, its disposition … its personality. There’s no media platform more able to establish and perpetuate your brand’s personality than social media.

Here are three examples of big brands using social media to drive home a positive message at a time when consumers are experiencing the stress of civil unrest.

Conversely, there’s also no other form of media more capable of destroying your brand’s reputation more rapidly than social media.

Here’s what I mean by that … social media has evolved into this mass of impactful statements, emotional imagery, real news, fake news, status updates, complex dance videos, cute puppies doing adorable things, sports highlights (wait, strike that), political rants, and of course, birthday greetings for people you haven’t seen in over ten years. Thankfully, mixed in with all of this is advertising, which is sourced from brand pages where people can follow, like, and comment on your company.

Oftentimes and especially in the case of smaller companies, these brand pages also make it easy to identify what we call stakeholders in your company.

For the purposes of this blog, let’s just define stakeholders as you, your spouse, your employees, your employees spouses, your customers, and your nephew who lives in Portland. This is where it gets tricky, because unlike other forms of media your brand page can host comments from all sorts of stakeholders. Said people run the spectrum of emotions right now … some are steady, others are not so steady, and most everyone except Drew Brees is really super sensitive.

So, posts from both you and your stakeholders need to reflect an awareness of what’s currently happening. If you don’t, you will inevitably have a problem. If they don’t, you could have a problem if you don’t properly manage things.

Your personal page(s) matter too. Don’t think that people don’t associate you with your company. Social media can shine a bright light on your thoughts and opinions, especially if you’re one of those people who use social media for that purpose.

I personally prefer pictures of family, friends or maybe a sporting event (dammit! strike that also) for my feed. For the most part, I leave my emotions, politics, and opinions to myself.

You’re welcome.

If you are a small to medium sized business and you have a business page on Facebook, Instagram or perhaps even posts on Tik Tok … work right now to keep things positive and relatable to customers who are experiencing a terrifying pandemic, significant civil discord and no f-ing sports to take their mind off things.

All at the same time.

Emotions are high which is a real good time for you, your ad messages, your social media posts, and those pesky stakeholders to take the high road or even the quiet road as those two places are the most safe right now. Monitor your feeds and look out for inflammatory or controversial posts. A simple ‘hide’ will do the trick and if necessary, you can always ’unfollow’ that nephew in Portland. As for you, don’t post anything when you are drinking, watching CNN, or in a highly charged emotional state.

Seems easy … right? And, I never once mentioned that a good digital ad agency can keep all these things in order for you. Even though we’re tapping the brakes on new business, we’d be glad to discuss your best steps if you contact me at ed.olsen@rethincadvertising.com or you can simply post a comment on one of our highly conscientious and well-managed social media pages.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Ed Olsen is the president/owner of ReThinc Advertising. He has lots of opinions on all things marketing. To read more of them, click here.