To be completely candid, life is weird right now. We’re all living at a greater distance from one another than usual, and we’re spending more time in digital spaces than real ones. Needless to say, our sense of normalcy is shifting – which means our approaches to social should shift, too. Here are three tips for how you can adapt what your brand is doing in the social space to effectively and appropriately respond to what’s going on in the world. Customize your approach, strategy, content and tone to the current media climate based on your unique brand and industry position When thinking through how to adapt your brand’s messaging and strategies to current events, it’s important to first acknowledge who your brand is on its own. Whether you’re a forward-focused tech company, a whimsical plant shop or an edgy clothing store, you have both a personality and knowledge about your audience that is unique to your brand and your brand alone. So take a moment to think about what that is in your case. When you have a clear sense of who your brand and you put what you know about your audience at the forefront, you can more confidently navigate the current news climate and new cultural norms to inform your communication approach. Think about your brand’s mission, values, and place in the industry. Consider how your audience perceives your brand generally, and during these unprecedented times. Determine what unique value your brand has to offer -- if it has something meaningful to offer right now -- and ensure communication of that value is consistent across all places you show up, like your website, the press, social media, and more. As the news and culture climate shift, people swarm to social to continue the conversation, so it’s important to maintain a united front made of clear and consistent messages from your brand. Coffee brand Lavazza is using social to share that they’ve donated over 50,000 bags of coffee to healthcare and public safety workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The brand has also adapted their messaging to reflect an at-home focus, encouraging users to showcase their at-home coffee set ups and ask their coffee questions to create opportunities for two-way engagement. Putting insights about their audience at the center, Apple & Eve adapted their content pillars to meet new needs. For example, the brand is sharing recipes, activities and crafts parents can try at home with their kids on their Instagram. By leaning into crafts made from materials most parents already have at home and providing fun activity ideas for kids, the brand was able to adapt their social messaging to current stay-at-home lifestyles with a small adjustment to their existing strategy on their social channels. Vagisil chose to focus content on thanking essential workers, given their brand’s women’s health-related mission. Maintaining their illustrator-style Instagram posts, the brand was able to create content directly related to Coronavirus while weaving in their signature brand style and remaining true to their core values. This shows that while much is being talked about regarding Coronavirus, brands can find their unique voice and value in the conversation. Leverage social listening and monitor competitors to keep an accurate pulse on the landscape Once you’ve determined strategically how to pivot your messaging, it’s equally important to keep a continual pulse on the cultural landscape to ensure what you’re sharing is timely and well-received. That’s why on a monthly, weekly and even daily basis, you should actively participate in both news monitoring and social listening. Doing so will cue you into what people are talking about, how they’re talking about it, and continue to identify where your brand’s voice may be able to add value. A message that feels appropriate to post or respond with one day might need to be reevaluated the next within the ever-shifting news and cultural landscape. Helpful tools like Sprout, NetBase, and Google Alerts can help inform your content reevaluation cycles. It’s also important to note that right now, every brand is facing the challenge of navigating the new terrain that is COVID-19. So just as we should all keep up with what is being shared in the news and by consumers on social, it is imperative that your brand also tracks competitor activity in your industry as another input for understanding the current landscape. By tuning in to what other brands are doing, you can learn from their successes and missteps and better understand what consumers may be seeing or needing from brands like yours -- most importantly helping you identify the whitespace for your brand. Experiment with new social formats and content types At the end of the day, this is new territory for all of us. We can plan and strategize to the best of our abilities, but one of the most sure-fire ways of determining what resonates most with your audience on social media is through experimentation. Now, especially, is a time to be understanding, empathetic and real with the world on social. Leaning into more raw, authentic content that feels less polished and more organic is a strong way to reach audiences in a time where we’re all looking to connect and relate. Take late night show hosts for example. Many hosts have ditched highly produced segments to embrace DIY iPhone videos recorded at home. Instagram is one platform that touts many tools brands can use to test out a more real and raw approach, and at the same time engage with and learn about your audience. Most notably, this includes Instagram Stories. From adding stickers and GIFs to stories to allowing polls, questions and countdowns, these various tactics can help brands feel more authentic on their social channels and create a two-way dialogue. Additionally, Instagram Live and IGTV are other ways your brand can create longer-form content that enables connection with viewers on a deeper level. By experimenting with new social formats and content types, you can not only try new approaches and tactics to leverage on social during this difficult time, but determine what your audience most positively responds to. The proof is in the pudding. Or in this case, the engagement. We hope these three tips help you navigate shifting social for your brand. If you want to dig into any of them further, or would like to chat through other questions your brand is facing, drop us a line. Also, check out our guide to COVID-19 community management.