The New Community: Meeting Your Audience Where They Are

In recent months, much of what we know about advertising has been flipped upside down. In a socially distanced world, we’re even more reliant on social media and other digital platforms for community and connectivity. Brands must recognize that consumers’ media habits have changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, so agile adjustments are necessary for getting their messaging to their audiences with relevancy and care.

Some truths remain the same, of course—we’ve always known to go where the audience goes. But what does going with the audience look like now?

Making Smart Adjustments

 When there’s an outside impetus to change marketing plans and participate in an ongoing conversation and response, brands must always proceed cautiously. For example, reactionary messaging can come across as opportunistic, which is especially damaging during a sensitive time like our world is currently experiencing. Be sure your brand acts in accordance with its values, not taking advantage of the difficulty many are experiencing as the world changes to bring your brand to the forefront.

Your credibility can also take a hit if you find yourself joining a channel that doesn’t make sense as a direct response to the coronavirus outbreak. Sure, it might seem like everyone is on TikTok these days—but is that channel the best fit for your brand? Find ways to adjust that make sense for who you are instead of following a trend without analyzing its fit for your brand first.

However, changes to the marketplace at the scale we are all experiencing do require quick pivots. To remain relevant, your brand must identify your audience’s adjustments and new habits and respond accordingly. But your reactions must be timely and smart—decisions made with care and intention and with your brand’s values at their core. Changes to your plans may involve a greater investment, so make them with your brand’s health in mind.

Together… Apart

 Community seems like an odd trend during the days of #SocialDistancing and Stay-at-Home guidelines, but chances are that your audience has adjusted quickly to establish a new normal to get through COVID-19. As soon as the ability to gather was altered, consumers sought new ways to replace the community they knew and enjoyed.

These are often based in digital media, which is why it is important for brands to recognize where their audiences are gathering in this rapidly changing and developing time.

So what does this new community look like?

Groups, Parties and Streaming

 In-person groups are off-limits for now, but digital groups are on the rise. For example, Facebook has seen a 70% increase in Messenger group calls as Stay-at-Home orders have been established.

Netflix parties have also increased in popularity, according to recent Google search numbers. For now people can’t catch a new movie over a bowl of popcorn, but they can still share their thoughts as they watch a movie together—albeit digitally.

Twitch is another platform that allows groups to engage easily. According to The New York Times, traffic on Twitch has shot up around 20%. Primarily used by gamers, users can stream their gaming sessions and talk to viewers. But now, the platform is being used for content such as live concerts as well.

When it’s time to adapt to COVID-19’s new normal, how can your brand participate in community in the ways people are doing so now? What makes sense for you?

Join the Community

 Of course, basic logic helps brands dictate where their marketing dollars go—and now, it’s all about social media. It brings people together, and that’s where they’ll see a large portion of advertising messaging. With a huge increase in traffic on social media alone, many brands may consider increasing or reallocating their advertising spend on these platforms—which may increase their reach as more people are spending more time there.

 But knowing how to communicate with your audience also has to do with going where your audience goes mentally. What is their current mindset? What are their concerns? Their wants and needs? Their media habits during the coronavirus pandemic give us a key insight—community.

 Even if you’re not placing ads directly where they are, consider how your messaging can speak to the community they long for. Is your snack perfect for a Netflix party? Can you partner with an influencer to talk about your product live on Instagram? Think about how your brand can fit into your consumers’ new normal—and they’ll be more likely to act.

What Now?

 As you consider pivots to your marketing strategy during COVID-19, remember that media consumption habits during this time give you important insight into your audience. Think about bringing your messaging not only to where they are literally spending their time but also to their concerns and felt emotions. Meet them where they are, and you’ll convey your care for them alongside a meaningful message from your brand.

Looking for more ways to move forward during this time? We’ve developed a guide to keeping your brand healthy with an eye toward your new normal. Read more here.

Want more of the good stuff?

Sign up to receive our articles once every few weeks, all wrapped up in a neat little email.