How to Keep Consumers Engaged in the Era of Social Distancing

It’s no secret that 2020 has come with more than its share of challenges, especially for businesses. Business owners and managers are often societal leaders, making decisions based on problem solving and survival, even in the absence of government or social guidance. Business leaders are innovating, trying, failing, and getting back up to lead us out of 2020 and into a prosperous and stable future.

One major challenge that businesses are now facing is how to keep the consumer engaged while socially distant or from home quarantine. Lucky for us, technology was on the crest of some major advancements in marketing and digital technologies pre-Covid, and businesses get to be at the forefront of driving those changes into the modern world.

Video Marketing

Video marketing is not new, but the ways that businesses are able to use video marketing are new and are great at reviving audiences through a screen. Video advertising is inundated in social media and video streaming platforms, like Youtube. Depending on the product or service you’re producing, choosing a video platform wisely could help you re-engage your audience, or reach a new demographic.

Video marketing has become more and more creative,and there are a lot of cost-effective ways to create quality video content that can be effective in stimulating consumer action. Video marketing also goes hand in hand with social media marketing, which is not only a chance to engage your audience with original content, it’s also a great way to reflect more of who you are, which I’ll explain in a moment.

Interactive Events and Virtual Reality

Two very effective expansions of video marketing are virtual reality (in several different forms) and interactive or live events, and now is a great time to try both.

Virtual reality might sound like a thing of the future for business, or an expensive, gimmicky way to reach consumers. The fact is, it’s neither. Virtual reality can take on a number of forms, from the virtual reality car driving experience in a showroom, to the 360 degree tours of a product or place, including the resort you’re considering saving up for and exploring next summer. Virtual reality tools like 360 degree views of the interior of a car or hotel can be created using simple software and a series of photographs.

Many real estate companies have used the same tech to set up virtual tours of properties. Lowe’s even released an app and used virtual reality to help its customers envision how certain products would fit in at their homes, and walk them through mock-projects in preparation for the real thing.

Interactive events work much the same way. These can range from social media “live” events, with meet and greets or question and answer sessions, to website interactive events including contests. Or, as we saw with Dove, a marketing campaign geared specifically at reaching other-than-economic goals that helped engage a new, impassioned audience. Interactive events help people feel engaged, heard, recognized, and not so isolated while remaining physically distant from others.

Expanding your Brand to Fit Your Identity

While we faced an almost unprecedented global health crisis this year, we faced a number of other social justice issues as well. The pandemic helped to highlight some socio economic disparities that already existed, and while we quarantined at home, we learned a lot about our world through the news. Some of the issues we’ve taken more notice of this year, businesses have also noticed, and were ready to take this year to rebrand

It’s become more and more important to consumers over the last several years that the companies they interact with reflect their values and beliefs. Many companies have become more vocal about the things that matter to them, like diversity and equity, ecological responsibility, and public health initiatives. Some companies took the time this year to reach audiences whose values aligned with their own, and therefore reach a broader consumer base, or a group within which they were able to make deeper connections.

A good example of this is Dove’s cofounding of the Crown Coalition, which helped passed the Crown Act, an act preventing race-based hair discrimination in businesses and schools. Dove donated millions of dollars to this fund, and encouraged people to get involved with the political process of eradicating race-based discrimination through their webpage. Actions like these let the consumer know, clearly, what the companies they support are doing to support a more equitable world. They also help the consumer to forge more confident relationships with the businesses they’re dealing with, and make them feel engaged from the comfort and safety of their own homes.

Businesses as Social Media Influencers

In combining the emergence of the brand-to-reflect-identity phenomenon and the technology now afforded to businesses, this is an opportune moment for businesses to connect more than ever with consumers. Keeping consumers engaged can be as simple as leading the changes we, as businesses, want to see around us, and social media is a great place to start that change.

During a time when social media usage has spiked up to 40 percent, there’s never been a better time than the present to start engaging audiences more on platforms that reflect your business goals, values, story and identity. If you’re new to social media, it never hurts to hire a social media management or PR person, or look for social media tips and tricks to help you choose the platforms, aesthetic, and message that is right for your business. Remember that now is a time when the consumer, your fellow American, needs hope, justice, and to see real leadership, carrying us toward a better tomorrow more than anything. Be that change!

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