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IdeaXchange
Lisa Mabe

Social communication guidelines for natural brands during COVID-19

More people are spending time online, and your brand needs to be mindful of what content it's sharing amid the pandemic.

Screen time is going through the roof as many people are at home, trying to either work or distract themselves. On one hand, that's a good thing in terms of reaching consumers online (as there are more people to reach), but we have to be extra mindful of what types of content we publish and share right now. It’s not a happy time, and our social media posts and ads should respect that. Here are a few guidelines for natural brands’ social media marketing program amid the COVID-19 lockdown.

1. Stop selling and start showing how your brand can fulfill a current need.

Assuming you've done my favorite thingconsumer researchthen you ought to know your consumers really well and understand a bit about what their daily lives are like and how they are rapidly changing right now. For example, if parents are part of your core consumer group, you know they are just starting to balance #WorkingFromHome while homeschooling their children. Considering that, how can your products help them save time, relax, be better, decompress, stay healthy, etc.? Since we now abide by #CancelEverything and are staying home, consider serving up content focused exclusively on how consumers interact with your products at home. For example, consider #CookingAtHome content that showcases easy eats, minimal ingredients or freezer-friendly foods.

2. Examine your social media content and adjust your messaging.

Immediately halt all your ads and scheduled or planned posts. Examine your messaging to ensure things like calls to action are appropriate. No more "go into your local grocery store to buy our products." While grocery stores are likely to be one of the few places left open to buy products, you don't want to encourage people to step out of their quarantines. You can still tell people where to buy your product, but if possible, offer up online purchase along with delivery or pick-up alternatives.

Also, have a second look at all the visual content you plan to post, trying to avoid publishing images, videos or graphics of people congregating or gathering for events or special occasions. Holidays like Passover, Easter and Ramadan are all coming up soon, but there will most likely not be any parties. If you can, reflect our new culture of “social distancing” in your imagery on social media.

Furthermore, most brands I work with for social media marketing have around five to eight different types of "content series" running at any given time such as marketing holidays related to its categories. Some holidays are useful while others are pure fluff and fun. Saying "Happy National Pigs-in-a-Blanket Day" on April 24th is probably not going to be relevant right now, but acknowledging others like National Picnic Day (April 23) may be, assuming your audience has some outdoor space on their own property to get out in the sunshine.

3. Demonstrate how your brand is taking extra care to stay clean and safe.

Especially for food, beverage and agriculture products, shoppers recently told us they want to know that what they buy has had “minimal human interaction.” While Green Purse PR has temporarily suspended any face-to-face shopper research, we did conduct some shopper intercepts as recent as last week and are currently ramping up virtual shopper interviews to service our research clients. What natural shoppers are telling us is that they are leaning toward packaged goods and retail-ready products, which they perceive would have less people touching it or breathing over it along the supply chain.

If your organization has managed a crisis in the past (like food contamination), share your experience and expertise in dealing with that situation in order to instill confidence now.

4. Keep it positive.

Please, keep it positive. Every time we turn on the TV or radio or read the news, it's going to beat us all down with negativity and fear. Let the authorities serve up the not-so-great news, but keep your organization as positive as possible while staying "on brand." Perhaps you can offer some sort of unique virtual escapism or experience. You've likely seen social posts already about "this is sooo what we need to see more of right now." It's either a person helping another person (delivering groceries to elderly) or a cute pet doing something ridiculously adorable. If your organization makes something that has a peaceful aspect (think: out in nature) or does something really cute or calming (think: sheep contentedly grazing in a beautiful pasture), then capture it in a short video and publish it. People are even more open to uplifting, encouraging, calming, peaceful and perhaps even funny distractions right now.

Lisa Mabe-Konstantopoulos is the founder and CEO of the boutique public relations consultancy Green Purse PR based in Washington D.C. Lisa is a recognized expert in social communications, marketing to women and natural and organic foods.

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