As the lockdown restrictions are lifting, eyes are turning from ‘hibernation’ or ‘maintenance’ activity to recovery planning.
The truth of the matter is that not all businesses will be able to turn the lights back on and expect instant traffic or footfall during the recovery plan. Many will have to work to (re)engage their audiences online, communicate what their offer is going to look like now and to build up the awareness and goodwill that will lead to sales and leads in the future.
The industry might have you believe that this type of comms planning is a dark art. Whereas in fact it’s relatively straightforward provided you follow the right path …
Stage one: Drop your anchors
The first thing brands need to do it is to ‘drop their anchors’ and understand what has happened during lockdown and what impact this has had on them and their market. This will enable you to build a social media comms plan that is realistic and achievable.
- Look at what people are saying about you
Understand how people are talking about/engaging with your brand. What are they saying (good, bad, indifferent?), when (what times of day?) and where (what channels?)
- Look at audience behaviour
How are people behaving on social? The lockdown has changed how people behave online, so look at what this means for your customers/audience and plan around it.
- Consider your competitors
Have your competitors been active or quiet during lockdown and how have people responded to this? How does this compare with what you have done? Are people speaking positively (or not) about your competitors?
- Consider your lockdown activity
If you have hibernated during lockdown you will need to look at how much conversation you have to work with (is there complete radio silence or do you have some people talking to/about you?). If you have maintained a presence, you can start to think about how you can grow this conversation and talk to them about what is coming next.
- Think about what success looks like for you on social
It’s key to clarify what a ‘good’ result will look like for you. Look at what social can deliver for you (awareness, understanding, building brand warmth, driving traffic) to prioritise what is most important for you and how you will measure it.
Stage 2: Build for Success
Once you have this information you can build a plan that will enable you to achieve your goal. To do that, you should think about the following:
- What are you doing to stand out and achieve success?
Think about how you can achieve your goal by looking at what is missing from your market and decide if you can you provide it.
For example, is there a lot of negativity amongst competitors? If so you can look at bringing some warmth and positivity to stand out. Is there a lot of silence in your market? If so you can look to become the leading voice, providing clarity and thought leadership?
- What resource do you have available?
It is key to be realistic and pragmatic about the time, resource and skillsets you have available and therefore the results you can expect from this. This is something many brands overlook and find it stalls their journey.
If you have limited time (under 2 days per month) it’s key to put that into getting the basics right (see point 8) but if you have more, then you can look to build content, distribution and perhaps paid activity into your plan.
- Get the basics right and build from the ground up
The basics are around communication. You should provide clear and timely updates about what your business is doing (opening times, service/product availability etc) and check your social media feeds regularly to see if there are any questions or queries that need answering( this will take around half an hour a day).
If you have more time, then you can look at creating content (blogs, videos and images) which are valuable to your audience/customer and sharing them on social media.
- Plan, Divide and Conquer
Once you know what you’re looking to achieve, how you’re going to approach it and what resource you have available: create a simple plan that outlines who will do what and when. Have a planning session with your team to discuss ideas and actions and then go away and do it.
Always look at your activity against what you set out to achieve. If you were looking for engagement, did that content drive it? If yes why, if no, why? By doing this you will be able to improve your next piece of content and so forth.
Recovery can seem an insurmountable task, especially for brands who’ve maintained radio silence so far. However, by following these steps, you can start to “wake up” your feeds and your audience, to ensure that when you have something to say – you also have somebody there to listen.
If you’re looking for more information about how the lockdown has impacted social media usage our report has more information on this >> Social Media in Strange Times.