Social media platforms offer new rules to brands for online advertising

Topics Coronavirus | advertising | Lockdown

Twitter said that it has asked brands to be empathetic to the customer
As the Covid-19 pandemic ravages the world of advertising, pushing more and more marketers online in their attempt to stay engaged with customers, social media platforms have a new set of rules for brands to abide by: be human. With people uneasy and uncertain about their future and governments jittery about the social impact of the pandemic, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram are all asking marketers to be mindful of the message.

“With outdoor activities coming to a halt and more businesses, as well as audiences, moving to the digital space, Twitter’s role in a brand’s communication plan has become even more pivotal. With consumers spending more time online and on the service, brands have an opportunity to engage with their audience base like never before. We are committed to producing impactful work as well as helping brands navigate this situation smoothly,” said Rishabh Sharma, head-Twitter NEXT India.
Twitter said that it has asked brands to be empathetic to the customer. Also companies were asked to ensure that the “messages and information put forth are not only accurate but also responsible and required”. 

Similarly Facebook, which has over 328 million monthly users in India, coupled with the reach it has through WhatsApp (400 million Indian users) and Instagram, has also asked advertisers to be more cognizant of the situation. Their efforts, the company said was focused on three fronts. Connecting people to accurate information from health experts, curbing misinformation, and supporting local communities and businesses.


“This is the time for brands and marketers to act with heightened consumer empathy. The pandemic and the lockdowns are difficult on everyone, and the last thing a brand should do is exploit it. We’ve developed a framework of ‘Assurance, Assistance, and Action’ that provides guidelines for brands and marketers,” said Neha Markanda, head-Business Marketing, Facebook India. 

It is not a question just getting the eyeballs on a post or likes on a video, brands need to keep the big picture in mind all the time, digital marketers say.  Take for instance the fact as Markanda says that Instagram Live views in India had increased by more than 60 per cent week-on-week under the lock down. This is an opportunity for brands to step in. But if the tone is too harsh or the pitch too loud, it could do long term damage to the brand and the platform. 
A similar dilemma greets brands on LinkedIn, the professional networking platform that has seen a surge in the use and time spent on its pages. Here one needs to walk the line between relating with customers and signalling brand values.

“Globally, we’re seeing a 55 per cent year-over-year increase in conversations among connections on LinkedIn from March 2019 to March 2020. We are also seeing brands becoming more active. We’ve seen a 60 per cent year-over-year increase in content creation also,” said a LinkedIn spokesperson. 

For example, mid-tier technology services firm L&T Technology Services is running a weekly video series, Vistara India has videos about how their team is set to overcome the current challenges. Several business leaders have also taken to LinkedIn to reach out to their huge employee base, hold virtual town halls, and stream CEO keynotes. Examples are, Tata Consultancy Services CEO Rajesh Gopinathan, Wipro Foundation chairman Azim Premji, Mohit Malhotra, CEO, Dabur India, among others. 

Companies have learnt to be careful with the messaging on social media platforms. “As lockdown was announced, we at Tata Motors Electric Mobility Business Unit, took on the task of communicating to different people in different ways. The persons communicating directly with the consumers are our call centre executives, our product specialists, and specially trained dealer staff,” said a Tata Motors spokesperson. On social media, the team changed track from being in active sales mode and ran a campaign on caring for the Nexon EV during the lockdown. Autmotive lubricant brand Castrol India also ran social media campaigns of #HangUpYourKeys and #SaluteTruckers to keep in touch with customers.  

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