• Sarah Pitman

Navigating Digital Marketing During Covid 19

Updated: Jan 14



App usage and time spent on mobile devices on average has increased by 20% in light of the COVID -19 pandemic. This should come as no surprise, as many of you reading this are sure to be culprits yourself. According to EMarketer, Facebook has seen an increase by 70% in all of its apps from the month of March.


As a consequence of the COVID Pandemic and our national lockdown, particularly in South Africa, advertisers have had to change the way they reach their audiences and shift most of their perspective towards an online approach. With a recession, we know the first thing that usually gets sacked is the marketing budget – another reason why social media and digital advertising is appealing, it's cost-effective.


Marketers are turning to email and social media to talk to their consumers, build their brands, and engage with their audiences because, well, that’s where people are – behind their screens.


Amidst all of this change, people are turning to different social channels for content. TikTok, usually used by teens but increasingly being used by adults has seen massive growth in the last few months. The platform used to create bite-sized, entertaining video content has been keeping many, very busy. Snapchat saw a 45% increase in the month of March and is expected to continue to grow. We have also seen a rise in new group video calling apps that allow us to connect with families and friends. With House Party allowing you to play group games and stay entertained with others.


Now really is the right time for brands to double down on social media, to build and grow relationships with their existing customers, and to start building relationships with new customers. This certainly doesn’t mean that you can publish whatever you like, it means that everything you do, needs to be intentional.


I don’t think there has been a time more prevalent than now to really KNOW your audience. Marketing is based on empathy, on understanding your customers and understanding how they need help and how you can help them. The person or consumer profile you had in mind before the pandemic and the person you are talking to now – they do not have the same concerns, the same worries, hopes, dreams and fears that they did before the pandemic. Their lives have shifted and changed and the person you need to understand is the person living now, amidst the pandemic. You need to understand their emotions and needs.


Marketers need to be asking themselves, what are my consumers feeling and doing now?

  • Are they battling to home school children?

  • Do they have to spend their days juggling kids, cleaning homes and working from home?

  • Are they scared about their financial future, their investments?

Brands need to step back and consider consumers in their current state and identify how your brand can meet their needs.


The relationships you build now by meeting those needs will endure long after this pandemic.

From a social media point of view, the KPI’s we had set for ourselves and our brands need to change. Success now and success before the pandemic look different.


Before the pandemic ROI was king. It was all about, putting in R XXXX and getting back more than that in revenue. While ROI is important, now, with consumers' wallets not open to the same things as they were before, our focus should be on engagement, on clicks, shares, likes and comments – this is a better gauge of consumer interest.


The ultimate goal right now is in relationship building – it’s about building brand love and being attentive to how your brand can help consumers. Their wallets will open again and they will be able to shop and spend money again, and when they do, let your brand be the first they buy into.

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