Like most industries, social media marketing has seen significant changes over the past few weeks as our country adjusts and responds to the global pandemic of coronavirus. As one of the primary sources used by networks, brands, celebrities, and everyone at home to share updates and changes, social media is largely where people go to respond to what’s happening in the world around us.

How Brands Should Communicate About COVID-19

Coronavirus-related conversation sits at about 500 million posts and counting, including trending topics of “social distancing” and “testing positive for coronavirus.” The U.S. has the highest volume—35%—of conversation globally, followed by the UK at 8% according to Brandwatch.

Several trends have emerged during this time to show how the broad spectrum of social media users are responding to social distancing and stay-at-home orders emerging nationwide.

Let’s dive in and unpack some of the biggest ones.

Quarantine content creators

In addition to Nintendo Switches selling out as Animal Crossing explodes, TikTok content has exploded with coronavirus-related content ranging from DIY and cooking to parodies and challenges.

Some have gone as far as creating an account dedicated to quarantine content. One such group calls themselves @TheQuarantineCrew and includes Bachelorette alumni Hannah Brown and Tyler Cameron, who have been quarantined with Tyler’s friends and roommates in Florida for a few weeks.

Brands have also joined the action. Proctor & Gamble launched the #DistanceDance challenge, partnering with influencers and committing to donate to Feeding America and Matthew 25 for the first 3 million videos created. Currently, the hashtag has more than 8.8 billion views.

Last week, TikTok hosted influencer live streams—including popular TikTok creators and celebrities—using #HappyAtHome and sharing motivational talks and dance lessons every night. The hashtag currently has 6.9 billion views.

Other related popular hashtags include #coronavirus (43.8 billion views), #Covid19 (10.5 billion), #SocialDistancing (1.1 billion), and #CelebrateDoctors (1.4 billion).

Brand responses

Whenever an event such as this occurs in one country, let alone the world, consumers look online to see how brands respond. While there may seem as though there are a lot of misses out there, now is a huge opportunity for brands to embrace the need to communicate clearly and connect with their audiences.

There are a few different levels of response, depending on what validates your brand’s participation in the conversation. Check out the social posts we’ve identified for brands that remain relevant, are offering solutions and taking care of their employees, and adding humanity to their messaging.

Creative changes

Striking the Right Balance in COVID-19 Email Communications

While it’s generally understood that TV ads and other creative campaigns were shot before social distancing became the norm, we’re starting to see updated spots and message changes reflected across social media as well. Adweek reported a 30% decrease in social media images showing human contact, as well as copy changes to existing campaigns in response to social distancing and stay-at-home practices. Brands have also wasted no time inserting theme songs into the 20-second hand-washing diagram.

We’ve also seen a huge spike in brands, celebrities, and influencers going live on Facebook and Instagram. Content ranges from chats between celeb BFFs while doing makeup to hosting an at-home concert to encouraging people to stay home or crowd-sourcing workouts. An Instagram spokesperson told Digital Trends Instagram and Facebook Live views doubled in one week in Italy mid-March, and home workouts increased 5x in the U.S. over only a few days.

Celebrity giving and fundraising

The final big trend we’re seeing continue to grow is celebrities using their clout to fundraise. Some celebrities are crowdsourcing their followers to give directly to those who are struggling as a result of COVID-19. Others are sharing their donations to trusted organizations. And many are encouraging those who can to give as well.

Emilia Clarke is asking her followers to donate to the SameYou COVID-19 Relief Fund for a chance to have (virtual) dinner with her.

Kristen Bell has once again partnered with the online fundraising platform Omaze, where donors are entered for a chance to win a virtual game night with her. Proceeds support the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles’ Emergency COVID-19 Crisis Fund. A couple of weeks earlier, the actress shared about a donation she made to No Kid Hungry for $150,007.96, with the $7.96 portion added by her daughters when they eagerly emptied their piggy banks to help.

Bell, along with husband Dax Shepard, also garnered some buzz online when they announced they’d waive April rent for the residents of their many residential buildings in Los Angeles.

Creating a flexible strategy for the months ahead

Adapting Email Messages for the New Normal of COVID-19

While all these trends note changes in consumer behaviors and the content posted to social media channels, it’s important to remain flexible as you adjust your strategy in the coming months. Online shopping is booming right now, as are to-go ordering and parking-lot pickup for local stores. All of this requires strong communication about delivery, shipping, ordering, and pickup instructions to your customers. Be flexible with how you handle these changes and open in your communication across social media with your customers.

What other trends have you seen pop up on your social channels from brands, celebrities, or users? Share them with us in the comments below.

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