MAY 20, 2020
There isn’t any area of life that the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t impacted, and marketing is no exception. Some advertisers and social media platforms have specifically “outlawed” coronavirus-related content, causing brands to scramble if they originally planned to write about, report on, or otherwise share COVID-19 information. An example of this is Facebook’s recent ban of certain coronavirus ads and posts.
There are some new marketing techniques that have emerged due to the pandemic, and you may want to adopt them for the time being — or even for good. This article goes over a number of dos and don’ts of marketing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Do Be Aggressive with Digital Marketing
It’s common for brick-and-mortar stores to combine digital marketing with old-school, in-person marketing tactics. Now that many businesses are shut down temporarily, they’ve had to shift most everything online. The limited digital marketing strategies employed up until now won’t cut it — you need to do more than you ever had to if you want to maintain online sales and compete with all the other businesses doing the same thing. Amp up your social media marketing, ad budget, or blog.
Don’t Make False Claims About COVID-19
Social media outlets, Facebook in particular, have had a rocky relationship with fake news for the past few years. Assume that any content that makes false claims or spreads conspiracy theories will be banned. Facebook is handling misinformation by working with fact-checkers and limiting distribution of false news.
Do Be Clear About What You’re Currently Offering
Your customers want to know how they can access your business even if your doors are currently closed to the public. Update your social media profiles, website, and business listings (like Google My Business) with the latest information. Make sure your hours of operation are accurate; let people know if they can shop online; announce that your restaurant is offering delivery or pickup — don’t leave any question unanswered.
Don’t Post Listings for Face Masks (or Other Virus-Related Products)
You may assume that any face mask promotion is a positive thing — after all, people are scrambling to get face masks so they can stay safe in public. However, due to price gouging (raising the cost of an item to an abnormal level when in demand) on e-commerce sites such as Amazon and eBay, listings for face masks are no longer considered reputable on certain platforms.
Face masks aren’t the only product type getting this treatment. Facebook has banned ads and listings for various coronavirus-related products, like disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, and virus testing kits. Toilet paper can’t even make an appearance on some platforms because advertisers are concerned about price gouging.
Do Plan Online Events
If you had any type of event planned for 2020, consider holding it online instead of canceling or postponing. Some online events have an entry fee while others that were originally selling tickets are now free for anyone who wants to attend. Online events can do a lot more than open an income stream — they’re also a great way to promote your business, connect with customers, learn what your audience wants, and increase brand awareness. In a lot of cases, it’s better to hold a scheduled event now rather than hope that you can do it live at some point in the future, especially if the event is timely or won’t have as much of an impact later.
Don’t Post Exploitative Content
Since it’s so difficult to monitor ads and posts for exploitative content, some advertisers and platforms are banning anything with the words “coronavirus” or “COVID-19.” Some may even veer away from content with related words and phrases, like “quarantine” or “social distancing.” The concern is some of this content may be inciting urgency for financial gain, such as claiming that a product can prevent catching the virus or that an item is about to sell out for good.
Do Make it a Point to Improve the Customer Experience
At a time when your company may be losing business and revenue, it seems counterintuitive to offer discounts and freebies. However, doing so shows that you’re completely in tune with what your audience (and society in general) needs right now: a break. Income is dropping all over the country, and consumers have less money to spend. Giving discounts, slashing prices, and offering deals such as free shipping or a free month of subscription goes a long way. You may attract new customers when the price tag is low and retain them when life goes back to normal, whatever the new normal will be.
Don’t Forget to Add a Disclaimer to a Political Ad
Although political ads are allowed on Facebook even if they relate to COVID-19, they have to include a disclaimer. Public service announcements (PSAs), on the other hand, don’t usually require a disclaimer. However, there’s a list of elements that would still require a PSA to include a disclaimer. You can see the full list here to make sure you’re meeting the requirements.
Every business has had to redefine its strategy for the foreseeable future. From setting up employees to work from home to determining the best way to market to consumers in a time when everyone is quarantined, brands have a lot on their plate. Knowing what marketing strategies to utilize — and which ones to avoid — will pay off. Also, keep in mind that strategies established now may continue even once the pandemic has passed. A lot of companies are finding new ways to connect with customers that will work in the future, whether or not the threat of COVID-19 is present.
By Lindsay Pietroluongo