The COVID-19 pandemic has had major impacts on virtually everything that we do. We’re working from our homes, alongside our kids in virtual school classes, while shopping malls are emptied out, and even going for a walk can feel somewhat unsafe.
Logically, COVID-19 has also impacted what people talk about, with pretty much every conversation you have these days now referring, in some way, to the situation. For marketing and communications pros, that’s also meant a re-think in focus. How do you continue maximizing brand exposure amid such an event? Should you even be looking to continue advertising during a pandemic?
The true answer is that there is no answer – no one knows, for sure, how to best respond because no one’s ever operated in such an environment before.
For some brands that have chosen to reach out with messages of empathy, those efforts will help them maintain connection with their audiences, yet for others, who maybe take a different path, either by choice or due to the impacts, their messaging could backfire, and cause significant reputational damage.
Which category will your business fall into – and has consumer sentiment about your business changed already?
That’s where monitoring brand sentiment comes in.
Here are some tips on how to get a pulse of audience response, and what you can then do to manage the situation.
1. Listen to what the Internet says about your brand
First, in order to get a sense of audience sentiment, you need a social listening tool to monitor mentions of your brand across the web. I recommend Awario (disclosure: I am on the Awario team), Brandwatch, or Talkwalker for this purpose.
These three tools are specifically beneficial in this respect because they each include a sentiment analysis element, which will break down your various brand mentions into ‘positive’, ‘negative’, and ‘neutral’ listings.
It’s worth monitoring your sentiment charts for spikes, and to respond to each in kind. A spike in negative mentions signals could point to an upcoming reputation crisis, while a spike in neutral or positive mentions could mean that people are talking about your brand more than usual.
Keeping tabs, in either case, can help you to maximize any opportunities for improvement.
2. Monitor the impact of COVID-19 on your brand
Ideally, your social listening tool will pick up every topic and every conversation about your brand. But if you’re interested in digging a little deeper, and honing your efforts onto conversations that combine your brand and mentions of COVID-19 specifically (or, indeed, your brand and other specific issue), you’ll need to take your monitoring efforts to the next level.
For this, you’ll need a social listening tool that has a Boolean search capabilities. In short, Boolean search is a manual type of search query which enables you create more complicated parameters, including additional logic operators, such as AND, OR, which can facilitate more specific requirements.
Using these additional qualifiers, you can build search strings that sift the key mentions from the rest, automatically sorting through the broader stream to pick out the main points you need to know about.
This can help you improve your strategic approach to a situation like COVID-19, as it enables you to stay updated with the latest mentions of your business in relation to this specific scenario.
3. Respond to negative mentions ASAP
Now that you have a listing of all your brand mentions in relation to the issue streaming in, and separated into positive and negative mentions, you can take the next steps, starting with the most important element: the negative mentions.
Negative mentions are the ones most likely to lead to adverse consequences for your company, but research shows that people are generally appreciative of quick, active responses, and getting onto these posts and comments fast enough can enable you to turn negative sentiment around, and avoid broader damage.
You should look to respond to complaints and negative comments as soon as you see them. This also shows that you care about the opinions and problems of your audience, which can help to establish further connection.
4. Respond to influencers’ mentions
Ideally, you’ll be able to respond to all mentions, both positive and negative, in a timely manner, as required – but depending on how many mentions you see, and the time you have to commit to the task, that won’t always be possible.
If your capacity is limited, it’s worth taking note of the mentions from the most influential users, as their experiences can have a much bigger impact on your overall brand sentiment.
Again, this is not the ideal, and you don’t want to be in a position where you have to prioritize responses based on follower counts. But logically, when you’re managing your time, this is the place you should consider looking, particularly in the case of a negative mention that you want to dilute before it becomes problematic.
5. Check your media coverage
Knowing your reputation among your customers, target audience, and social media users is vital, however, when we’re talking about serious reputation failures (as well as serious reputation successes), mass media is where the big shifts will occur.
Social listening tools can monitor a broad range of online sources, in addition to social platforms, including personal blogs (which can be extremely popular) and major news sites.
If your business is getting mentioned in major publications, you need to know about it, and active social listening, combined with sentiment analysis, will help you stay on top of this big mentions – and early notifications in this respect could end up being invaluable, dependent on the situation.
The COVID-19 pandemic is unpredictable, and scary, for various reasons. Situations like this can leave people feeling out of control, fearing for everything at once, and assuming that you’re already taking care of your personal, physical health, it’s worth also paying attention to your brand’s health as well.
Being aware of how the situation can impact the perception of your brand will enable you to act wisely, and avoid common mistakes.
All Sober’s explosive Facebook growth
Image courtesy All Sober
Opinions expressed by Digital Journal contributors are their own.
When we look at the data on emerging brands building a community through social media, the numbers show just how difficult it is to achieve growth and authentic engagement. In the past few years, most brands have found that social media marketing is an uphill climb.
According to a study from DigitalMarketingCommunity.com, the median engagement rate on Facebook for all industries is just 0.06%. However, there are exceptions. When we came upon the new addiction recovery platform All Sober, a site that officially launched in May, we were impressed by its social marketing strategy. We saw a growing, and more importantly, engaged community that was rallying behind a new startup. That initial impression was cemented further when we calculated its engagement. It was hovering just under 10% for the week—166 times the median percentage.
A deeper dive showed that this was not an anomaly, nor was it the result of bots or fake engagement. This was a true community buzzing around a common passion, which anyone familiar with the digital marketing space will tell you is becoming increasingly rare. Add to that the fact that All Sober’s platform and apps launched less than six months ago, and it became crystal clear that it had tapped into something very special to achieve this level of explosive growth.
Considering how difficult it can be for new brands to stand out on social media (especially Facebook), we wanted to answer an important question: What is All Sober doing that so many others are not? The answer is surprisingly simple.
What sets All Sober apart is its uncanny ability to elevate human stories and interactions to truly celebrate a very specific audience. Attention is a critical commodity in digital strategy, and the way All Sober has earned this level of lean-in and community participation is by honoring the accomplishments of people in recovery and putting a human face to the achievement of sobriety. For as long as people impacted by addiction have sought out help, the greatest strength of the community has been a strong sense of shared experience.
All Sober taps into that spirit and honors the successes of everyone on the platform. Its Facebook page has become a place for people to celebrate their “soberversaries,” cheering them on and inspiring the community to understand recovery is possible.
All Sober’s success is apparent, especially when compared to other, more established names in the space.
For example, on Sept. 9, All Sober had a post go viral entirely on its own—no ad budget was placed behind the content, and it was driven exclusively by the community. Four days later, the post had garnered 718,000 reactions, 45,500 comments and 16.6 million impressions—organically.
Naturally, this had an impact on the page’s overall engagement for the week. Despite having a fraction of the size of Psychology Today’s Facebook following (7.4 million likes), All Sober (31,000 likes) produced more than triple the engagement of this mental health juggernaut. And while one might think that this is an anomaly caused by a single viral post, All Sober’s outpacing of industry leaders such as Shatterproof (112,000 likes) and In The Rooms (154,000 likes) has been a constant since February 2022.
The difference-maker is coming in the form of positive content marketing and strategic amplification. Here’s what that looks like in practice.
Whether it’s a month of sobriety or 25 years, there is a sense of hopeful celebration that makes these social platforms a place for participants to engage and chime in with their own victories, stories and tips. This inspirational platform has drawn in massive numbers of people who participate every day on the Facebook page, and it is the driving force behind All Sober’s peerless Facebook engagement rate.
All Sober, like any new platform, amplifies content in the interest of gaining new, targeted, quality followers for the brand. But what makes its engagement numbers so remarkable is that none of the content itself is boosted. The organic participation makes All Sober a true innovator in the way recovery and sobriety is discussed online.
“It’s fair to say that most brands, to one degree or another, rely on advertising to help their message stand out,” said John Oates, president of JPO Digital, which works with All Sober’s social media team to grow the brand. “But the normal KPIs with All Sober are starkly better than most other brands that we’ve seen, and I think that is a testament to the quality of the content we’re able to use and the story that the brand is telling.”
“I feel like many brands neglect the value of true storytelling, of really drilling down on what value you can deliver to the people who are viewing your content. All Sober has leaned into that beautifully, and we’ve been able to build a fever-pitch following as a result.”
All Sober’s success on Facebook has inspired the organization to replicate that success on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter, where it can continue to grow large followings with positive messages of shared hope and inspiration.
All Sober was born after its founders, Paul Gayter and Flora Nicholas, experienced the anguish of addiction firsthand.
“Our loved one’s addiction led us to experience the problems that hundreds of millions of Americans faced daily throughout the addiction-recovery life cycle: searching all over the internet for help and information in times of crisis, for recovery group support, for treatment options, for sober communities and sober life information, and for resources to help them get jobs, among other things,” Nicholas shared.
“During our recovery journey, we recognized that there were major problems at every stage of the addiction and recovery life cycle—that existing solutions for people in need were fragmented, highly specialized, not available on the scale that the problem demands, or nonexistent.”
As a result, Nicholas and Gayter dedicated their lives to changing the narrative and improving the process for people seeking recovery and getting the help they need to navigate addiction.
“The only way of alleviating the constant search for solutions was to bring together everything that people need and house it all in one platform. That inspired us to create All Sober,” Nicholas added. “And while we have many iterations left to implement, I’m proud to say that we built just that—a one-stop shop for addiction treatment , recovery and sober life.”
All Sober is spearheading a movement intended to make sustaining and maintaining sobriety accessible to the people who are impacted by the global epidemic of addiction. Gayter, Nicholas and the leadership team understand better than most what people go through and the types of resources they need for sustained success. Those personal experiences are the inspiration behind building this community and platform around hope, sharing resources, and positive engagement.
All Sober’s unprecedented social media success is a testament to its ability to tap into the inspiring stories of people who proudly celebrate their sobriety, while offering a forum and a wealth of resources for the hundreds of millions of Americans touched by drug and alcohol addiction.
By ending the stigmas associated with drug and alcohol addiction and embracing the community that understands just how common this disease is, All Sober has found a way to achieve enviable engagement numbers via a welcoming and open forum offering hope to those who need it.
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