At a time when it’s harder for people to buy, whether due to vigilant social distancing or financial insecurity, it’s how brands engage with them, even give back to them, that will determine their profits during this period and whether they’ll bounce back once the world recovers.
The importance of becoming fluent in social media to successfully promote your business and interact with your customers is common knowledge. However, using social media effectively comes with its own challenges. The digital landscape is prone to rapid changes. If brands take too long to react, their content can be perceived as forced, insincere, and ultimately irrelevant.
With these constant shifts, it can be difficult to keep up with trending topics, but it’s an integral part of maintaining an online presence. Life during the pandemic is no exception. Since COVID-19 began impacting people’s lives, relying upon social media has become more important than ever. With shelter-in-place orders and quarantine, users are spending a significantly increased amount of time on the Internet and social media. This presents a golden opportunity for brands to really make an impression. Here are just a few of the most creative examples of social content from the past few months.
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Adhesive brand Fevicol conducted a masterful and creative digital campaign around social distancing. It shows two elephants pulling away from each other with the line “Kal ke mazboot jod ke liye, aaj thodi doori maintain korona.” Not only were they one of the firsts to do it, but also did it with much aplomb.
IKEA is a great example of focusing primarily on building trust with your base instead of simply trying to sell a product. There’s generally an understanding that the promotional content created by brands on social media is ultimately meant to help increase their sales, which can make any attempts at compassion feel fake. However, in some cases, this can be done effectively.
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IKEA managed to do exactly that with their #StayHome campaign. The purpose of the video they shared on social media was to encourage people to cherish their homes as they found themselves quarantined within their own walls. No IKEA products were featured, and no mention of their online services was made. It might seem a little counterintuitive for such a big brand to make no attempt to bring attention to themselves, but in simply relating to the experiences their customers were going through, they came across as genuinely caring.
The aviation industry has generally been a big trendsetter in this aspect. A few months ago, Indigo poked some harmless fun at Vistara with a quirky tweet stating “Not flying higher these days we heard?”, with the hashtag #StayingParkedStayingSafe. Other Indian airlines were quick to join the conversation with their own witty comebacks, with Delhi Airport finally rounding up the conversation with a hopeful-for-the-future kind of tweet. They not only conveyed the importance of staying home, but also kept themselves relevant in the audience’s mind through a unique take on the current situation.
4. Warner Bros
The last months have been turbulent for Warner Bros. The crisis has impacted cinemas, meaning delays for many of the big releases for the past few months (and the rest of summer). Yet, there’s been an increase in demand for home entertainment, especially projects from the TV and publication side of the brand.
For the company, they needed to keep excitement for the brand and its properties ignited, to ensure success for the delayed releases. This meant upping their already successful social media and PR strategy, to maximize engagement. The average engagement in the ‘during coronavirus’ period was 30.6 engagements per mention, compared to a before ‘coronavirus’ rate of 24 engagements per mention. An increase of 27.5%.
The brand knows that they drive love by continually feeding their fan bases with new content, and listening to what their audience wants. During the crisis, while it wasn’t possible to continue with the major releases as they’d planned, Warner Bros. could still be part of the conversations with teasers and snippets. They teamed up with Lego to release a special PSA to help children understand the crisis, and finally announced a project that had been in demand for a long time. A Snyder cut of the Justice League movie.
Demand for a director’s cut of the Justice League movie has been in demand for a while. So when Warner Bros. officially announced it, mentions went through the roof. The announcement was something the community had wanted for a long time. And was just what was needed for people to look forward to post lockdown. This unity between brand and consumer should aid the company’s recovery in the coming months.
What’s most interesting about the Domino’s approach is actually the format they used for their messaging. Back in April, Domino’s released a recruitment video featuring franchise owners from various locations. The message in the video is pretty straightforward, as the speakers acknowledge the changes they’ve made to continue operating during the pandemic and ask viewers to apply to join the team.
However, all the footage used in the video is from a Zoom call, an app that most of their customers are familiar with by now. Using that familiar layout gives viewers the feeling that we really are in this together, as we all do our best to adjust to new ways of communicating.
The company has made an intelligent and timely move by revoking its promotional campaigns and replacing them with ads that address the current situation. They take a subtler route with two striking ads.
One ad titled ‘Built for Right now’ tells the tale of its 100-year history and how it built machinery to support America during the War. The other one called ‘Built to Lend a Hand’ elaborates on its knack for immediacy – its ability to realise and recognise its customers’ needs.
These underline the fact that Ford intends to stick to ‘the greater good’ rather than market its products at such a time.
Vadilal Ice Creams is India’s second-largest ice cream brand with significant exports to USA, UK, Australia etc. It has a distribution network of 50,000 retailers, 550 distributors and 250 vehicles for delivery of goods.
Vadilal reached out through their Instagram to promote social distancing by staying topical and taking cues from Ramayana, one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India. A 1987-launched Indian tv series Ramayana, which was a visual representation of this ancient script was re-aired on television during the COVID-19 lockdown.
To stay relevant and connect with their consumers, Vadilal cleverly promoted social distancing mentioning ‘Lakshman Rekha’, an anecdote from the epic. Lakshman Rekha forms a strong connotation amongst Indians and is widely used in conversation to ‘not cross the line’.
Lakshman Rekha, contextually, is a line drawn by Lakshmana, an avatar of Hindu God Vishnu, around the hut he shares with his elder brother Lord Rama and Rama’s wife Sita during their exile. Before going out to search Lord Rama, Lakshman draws a line around their house to protect Sita as he asks her to not cross that line, known as the ‘Lakshman Rekha’.
You realise the urgency of a situation and message, only when you see a brand tweaking its logo, which otherwise stands untouched as a symbol of its identity. This happened with the famous fast-food giant McDonald’s. McDonald’s Brazil ran an ad that depicted the golden ‘M’ separated down the middle. McDonald’s may have received flak for being ‘opportunistic’ but this hasn’t deterred brave brands from venturing into the realms of logo-editing to depict the importance of social distancing. After all, creativity tops everything.
Hungama is South Asia’s largest Digital Media Entertainment Company, headquartered in India. They have several sister portals such as bollywoodhungama.com, which is world’s largest Bollywood portal, thegamebox.com, India’s first social gaming portal etc.
Hungama continued promoting their playlists as an escape and a mood-setter during the lockdown period. It encouraged people to tune into their playlists while they worked from home during the lockdown. To make the message more creative and engaging, they rhymed the sentences and used Hinglish, a language that reverberates with their audience.
In line with the reassessment of their branding and marketing strategies, several brands have gone all-out with their unique and creative ideas, yet staying well within the limits of sensitivity. Though several companies have faced backlash for being apparently selfish and tactless, the majority of them seem to have gone down well with the audience. The days to come will tell us how the tides turn. In the meantime, all we can do is support each other and the brands we love.