Using Instagram During the COVID-19 Crisis: How Does It Look Like?
Instagramming and the COVID-19 crisis
The outbreak of COVID-19 has been a life-changing event. It has completely changed the way businesses and societies operate. While every individual is taking all measures possible to protect themselves from the virus, businesses are pushed to run remotely and virtually. Social distancing and work-from-home are the new normal, and everyone is trying to embrace it.
Let’s talk about social media marketing, particularly Instagram marketing, and how the crisis is likely to affect the realm. Believe it or not, Instagramming won’t be the same for businesses. The platform has always been about having social interactions and creating virtual, visually rich experiences. But as the crisis engulfs the world, the informational quotient of the social network has increased to a new level.
Fake news and misinformation are becoming rampant during this time of crisis. Hence, Instagram is now beefing up its potential as a powerful news aggregator to prevent the circulation of malicious and fake rumors about the outbreak. It has decided to remove all misinformation about the crisis and provide valuable information from health authorities through hashtags. Now, it also prevents its users from looking for augmented reality effects related to the virus.
Industries across the globe are now grappling with these times. They lack liquidity and growth prospects and are seeking the government’s assistance to stay afloat. Supply chains for Chinese items, events and conferences, travel influencers, restaurants, bars, and hotels are facing the brunt of lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus.
How are users using Instagram now?
With many nations around the globe issuing stay-at-home orders, users are killing time by using social media more than ever. Instagram and its parent social giant Facebook has seen a 40-percent hike in their usage during the pandemic. Most of these users fall in the age bracket of 18 to 34 years. They still aim at gaining Instagram followers and Instagram likes, but the way they are using the platform is certainly very different now.
Usage time has increased
Social isolation and staying at home have become the new norm, and this has resulted in a tremendous increase in the consumption of digital media by people. They are spending copious amounts of hours on Instagram to connect with their family and friends, as well as to stay informed about everything that’s happening around the world.
More posting and engagement
An increase in the number of posting and engagement is surely obvious. Instagram followers of brands are staying longer on the network to engage with content and people. As such, there are high chances of getting more Instagram likes, comments, views, and other metrics. Influencer marketers on Instagram are also witnessing a sharp rise in the number of sponsored posts, and the likes, views and comments garnered by these posts.
Direct shopping on the rise
Real Instagram followers are now connecting and interacting directly with brands. They have all the time to hunt for their essentials and needed products on the platform. Since most countries have asked people to step out only when needed, people are using Instagram to buy products through e-commerce and direct messaging.
Instagram, as a photo and video-sharing platform, has gained immense traction among business users during the pandemic. That’s because they want to share messages expressing their support and update their Instagram followers about their operations. Thanks to a new Instagram feature called Co-watching, which allows users to connect with others through video chat. They can also explore story filters, add donation stickers, and up their profiles.
How businesses can use Instagram during the pandemic?
The global war against the pandemic has also led many profiteering advertisers to capitalize on the pressing concerns. Facebook was quick to respond to malicious intents of people by banning advertisements on Instagram that claim to prevent or cure a COVID-19 infection. Even some organic posts that intend to sell disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizers, and testing kits will be out of the platform. Any content that makes false claims and tries to promote conspiracy theories will be removed from both Facebook and Instagram.
As such, what businesses post and what strategies they adopt to get Instagram followers, Instagram likes, and achieve growth will change to a great degree. Instagram marketers and brands have to adopt the following steps while using the platform:
Pausing all promotions
Most brands and marketers often have a content plan ready. They usually prepare their promotions, posts, and other content in advance. But the outbreak of COVID-19 requires them to reevaluate their Instagram posts. They might have to rethink what they had scheduled or maybe cancel their posts altogether. This is certainly not the time to push offers that are focused on marketers’ and brands’ self-interest.
The pandemic has pushed many brands and businesses to pause their new campaigns. Any brand promotions and initiatives that they have planned are put on hold for now. That’s because people don’t really want to see them now, especially when they are stressed about survival after getting a pay cut or losing their job (even a loved one). People are now more concerned about the safety of their family, friends, and themselves.
Real Instagram followers of brands and businesses want to know more about the COVID-19 pandemic. This is also the time when misinformation about the virus is spreading as fast the virus itself. This is the reason why Facebook and Instagram are resorting to strict measures to place bans on certain ads and content. In March, Facebook decided to send home their content review team—something that’s going to have some effect on advertisers. Marketers are likely to face some delay in ad reviews. Also, there will be an increase in the incorrect disapproval of ads and limited delivery of in-stream ads.
As such, this is the time for marketers and brands to acknowledge the pandemic. Nothing really is normal, and they have to emphasize in spreading awareness about the crisis in order to remain authentic in the eyes of their Instagram followers.
Real Instagram followers look for honesty, and the platform is simply perfect for brands to share everything that’s going on with their business. It’s time for them to show their caring side by spreading authentic information through some popular hashtags, such as #covid_19, #corona, #highriskcovid19, #stayathome, and #remotework. Sharing credible information from sources like the WHO and local government can really help businesses in keeping their customers and Instagram followers informed.
Engaging with customers through online events
With stay-at-home orders pushing people indoors, it’s natural for brands and businesses to cancel their planned events and conferences. It won’t be possible for them to host these events until the curve of the outbreak flattens, and governments issue notices to reopen venues. But that shouldn’t stop brands from connecting with their Instagram followers and engaging them. Thanks to live sessions and webinars, they can continue to remain socially present, despite social isolation becoming an in-trend.
Instagram Live, Instagram Stories, and carousel posts are great tools that can help brands and businesses engage their audience on the platform during the crisis. They can use Instagram Stories to receive instant feedback from their Instagram followers. The questions and poll features of Instagram Stories can establish an immediate connection with Instagram followers and help brands listen to them.
This is also the best time to use Instagram Live to creatively show their expertise. Take, for example, a restaurant owner on Instagram. He or she can use Instagram Live to hold online cooking classes. A salon owner can share home manicure tips, and a fitness trainer can hold live workout classes—all using Instagram Live.
Offering online shopping options
It’s true that people are forced to stay indoors. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t relish online shopping experiences. They are allowed to step outside for essentials, but they might have other demands too. Brands and businesses that have relied on in-store shopping experiences have to now switched to online selling. And Instagram certainly provides a great platform to do so.
Brands can create a landing page that sells their products and share the URL with their Instagram followers. They can add the URL to their bio on Instagram so that it’s easier for people to find it. This works great for brands that have closed their stores or opened them for limited hours. For example, if they provide gift cards, they should let their Instagram followers know that they can support the business now and enjoy the experience later.
Also, brands can use Shopping Tags to sell their products directly from their Instagram feed and Instagram Stories. Doing so allows brands to populate their Profile Shop with their products. This would make it easier for their Instagram followers to browse through products that really matter to them. Selling through direct messaging or phone is also a great way to keep sales going and achieve revenue growth.
The COVID-19 outbreak has brought about a great deal of uncertainty and stress for both individuals and businesses. While lay individuals can’t do much other than staying at home and sticking to social distancing norms, businesses certainly need to keep their game going in order to stay afloat. They need to leverage the best practices when it comes to Instagram marketing and stay connected with their Instagram followers.
Stay at home and stay protected!