In a time full of uncertainty a brand’s presence on social media is critical in helping them ride the wave, stay in favour with their customers, be seen in the light they want and come out as unscathed as possible on the other side.

In a way, Instagram has transformed into something more intimate. Posting behaviour has changed from photos of packed social lives to snaps within the four walls we all live in. Some have taken it as a productivity competition, while others are happy to admit that they really can’t manage much at all at the moment.

When we can’t see all of our loved ones, it makes sense that people are connecting even more through social media, whether that be with friends and family, or seeking distraction from their favourite influencers and brands.

How brands are posting also needs to adapt. ‘Business as usual’ posts will no longer cut through and can come off as insensitive, especially when pushing for sales. And while a lot of brands are sharing ‘we’re here for you’ posts and calling it a job well done, it can be portrayed as being tone deaf and it just isn’t enough.

If your brand has followed either of those strategies, never fear, it isn’t too late to change the way you are using social media during this time and be better off for it. You can use your Instagram platform for good, which will help you solidify your brand in challenging times.

Keeping customers in the loop

Now is not the time to go dark on social media. Your followers need to know that you’re still here doing the best you can for your customers.

Using Instagram is a great way to show what you still have on offer, even if it looks a little different to usual.

Use Instagram Stories and Feed posts to show the behind the scenes of what your business is up to, what you can still do and are doing for your customers and that morale remains high.

This is your chance to give insights into your business that your followers wouldn’t usually get. This will create a more personal bond between your brand and your followers and keep them coming back to check for updates.

Ensuring safety and increasing brand trust

People want to know that when interacting with your brand they will be safe. And lots of brands are showing just how safe they are through Instagram.

While an informative post on all your social distancing procedures and the steps you are taking during COVID-19 is helpful, take it further by incorporating visual posts and humorous captions that focus on social distancing and safety.

Show how safe you are rather than just saying it. This method is already being widely used by cafes and coffee shops.

Coffee shops during COVID-19

Smart advertising

Advertising can easily be tone deaf in times of crisis, but there are certainly lots of brands producing great ads.

The key here is not to shove products down customers’ throats. Instead, be subtle, offer value and as you adapt your offerings to align with new customer needs show off these ideas.

McDonalds is now doing some great ads around milk and bread being available in drive-throughs, wine retailer Unico Zelo is bundling their products and advertising Iso Wine Packs, and tourism body Visit Brisbane is live streaming #VirtualSunshine as a way to subtly advertise the amazing Australian weather and Brisbane as a destination.

Visit Brisbane #VirtualSunshine

Adding value

Now is a time to focus less on direct conversions and more on adding value and providing resources.

This strategy is about the long game and you’ll want to be playing a useful and beneficial role to your followers. Additionally, having your social presence as a positive place to turn to will keep them watching and help customers to remember you at the end of all this.

While not the case for everyone, a lot of people currently have some more time up their sleeves and are searching for great content to keep them entertained.

Several brands are using this method to focus on building their brand rather than their sales.

Mecca Maxima has introduced Mecca Live, a 24-hour beauty update including new beauty products, what is trending now, live Q&As and lifestyle content. Keep it Cleaner has introduced a virtual gym full of live workouts and meditations and have partnered with Adidas on some of these classes. And clothing boutiques such as Princess Polly and Glassons are building out their Instagram content with live styling sessions, makeup tutorials, workouts and influencer takeovers.

Mecca and KIC during COVID-19

Staying connected

We are lucky that we have so many tools that help us keep our physical distance without socially isolating ourselves, and social media is a great way to stay connected.

Staying connected is especially important if your business has had to close due to restrictions.

You want your brand to stay front of mind, even if you aren’t fully operational.

Gyms in particular are using Instagram to their advantage. We’ve seen a lot of gyms who have gone from being an occasional poster to posting constant updates and workout videos to keep their members connected.

Building brand loyalty

If you use Instagram in the right way you will increase your brand loyalty. Now is the time to prove your worth as a business.

Communicate often with your customers, be transparent, be genuine, don’t spread misinformation and put your customers first.

Brands are using surprise and delight techniques to nurture their relationships with customers by providing unexpected rewards. Mura Boutique has introduced a new Friday segment called ‘Mura Pick Me Up’, where they are delivering vouchers and gift packs to Mura customers who need a little extra love. And Boohoo recently completed a ‘Boohoo in the House’ campaign where their followers could participate in seven days of giveaways to perk up their customers who are staying at home.

Doing these things along with the strategies mentioned above and you’ll be in a great position to build brand loyalty.

Things to avoid

Pushing sales

We know times are tough and your sales may be struggling but with many people experiencing financial hardship this could just push them further away. Best case scenario they ignore the posts, worst case you might lose their business in the future.

Sharing news about COVID-19

While it is important to acknowledge the current circumstances, unless you are a reliable and trustworthy news source, you don’t need to act as an authority on COVID-19.

If it is something that directly involves your brand/industry and what it is you’re trying to do at this time, you might like to create something reactive around this. But leave the reporting up to the media and government, and keep your socials as a positive and valuable space for people to turn to.

Pretending things are business as usual

Really, nobody’s business is as usual and pretending that everything is all sunshine and rainbows can come across as insensitive.

Instead acknowledge the elephant in the room and adjust your posting accordingly.