Combatting COVID-19 with Creativity: 3 Brands to Watch on Social Media During Coronavirus

By Holly Fuller

It goes without saying that the coronavirus pandemic has had a massive impact on our cumulative lives. Behaviors we once took for granted — daily commutes, Friday afternoon happy hours, or buying all the toilet paper your heart desires — have all been either discontinued until further notice, modified or cloaked in uncertainty.

Social media usage is no exception. Facebook has reported a 50 percent increase in messaging activity across Messenger and WhatsApp, as well as a 50 percent increase in the number of people watching live streams via Facebook Live. Instagram launched a new “Thank You Hour” sticker and collective story to help users express gratitude for whatever is helping them through this uneasy time, and LinkedIn has seen its usual top hashtags dethroned by #COVID19 and #coronavirus.

Almost all of us are stuck at home and are hungrier than ever for new content. Luckily, many brands across a variety of industries are stepping up to the plate to provide consumers with entertaining, inspiring and engaging experiences that can be enjoyed at home while staying true to their brand’s identities and core values. Let’s take a look at a few brands that are doing social media during coronavirus best, and examine what we can learn from them.

Lululemon Empowers via YouTube and Instagram Stories

Athletic apparel giant Lululemon has always offered the occasional vinyasa, bodyweight workout or guided meditation on its YouTube channel as a resource for its more dedicated fans. For the past four weeks, however, the brand has used Instagram to activate new content each day in the face of gym closures, class cancellations and increased indoor time. Efforts so far have included Instagram Live meditations and yoga practices, YouTube on-demand do-anywhere workouts, self-care tips and the newly-launched Move & Stay Connected challenge, which encourages participants to record 20 minutes of movement, five days a week for four weeks.

Soon after the company’s physical stores closed, Lululemon developed a fully virtual program that strategically leans into its guiding principles — namely, the importance of both physical movement and mental wellness — to provide new true-to-brand resources and continue to deliver value to its social media audiences.

Jägermeister Connects Brunch Lovers, Charitable Fundraising and Product Promotion

The team at Jägermeister engineered a virtual charity brunch that appeared to be a win-win from every angle — the Instagram Live event took place on April 19 and raised funds for Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants (ROAR), a coalition of New York restaurant owners financially supporting industry workers impacted by the pandemic. During the event, the brand shined a spotlight on their Cold Brew liqueur, which Jagermeister says pairs well with brunch staples. The virtual brunch was co-hosted by influencer Jeremy Jacobwitz, the mind behind the Instagram account @brunchboys, and “Brand Meister” Willy Shine.

This is a terrific example of how brands can walk the thin line between overt product promotion and “watch me save the world” heroics while staying true to their essence and purpose. Jägermeister has effectively identified where they fit into the social-distancing puzzle — people miss social drinking, after all! — and have developed a creative way to give back to communities in need.

Verizon Streams Live Performances to Support Small Businesses

At the end of March, Verizon claimed the No. 1 top trending topic on Twitter in the U.S., received tons of attention from the Twitter-verse, and saw 100 percent net positive brand sentiment resulting from a Twitter live stream. These incredible feats were the outcome of #PayItForwardLive, a partnership with Twitter’s Live Brand Studio that aims to fundraise and rally support for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. This eight-week campaign kicked off on March 26 with Dave Matthews as the debut act, along with the announcement that Verizon would be donating $2.5 million to small businesses throughout the duration of the campaign. Twitter users were asked to tweet their support for their favorite local companies using the campaign hashtag, and for each tweet Verizon pledged an additional $10.

This activation allowed Verizon to continue to do what Verizon does best — bring people together — while incorporating a way to give back to a demographic severely disrupted by the coronavirus.

Do Your (Uniquely Branded) Part

If you’re currently working to determine how you should adapt your brand’s social media strategy to meet the needs of today’s consumers, consider the core values of your brand. Are there any parts of this value that haven’t been fully realized? Are there opportunities for your business to offer support to communities in need? If so, tailor your strategy to specifically address these needs. This will help you make decisions that feel authentic to your fans, which will ultimately have the greatest impact.

Any questions on the above or want to discuss further? Please reach out to Holly Fuller.