10 Ways to Tide Over the Pandemic Using Social Media

15 June, 2020
Digital strategist Sonam Savlani was kind enough to share some sound advice and key insights for supporting your brand and community on social media during these unprecedented times. She shares her lessons from her experience of working with brands like Elle (past), Le Mill (past), Vogue, and more recently, Masque and Arianna Huffington’s Thrive. 

Some of us
scratch that, many of us have been spending sleepless nights scrolling endlessly till our feeds have nothing to offer. Social media has been a source for inspiration, support, anxiety and so much more through the pandemic. Facebook alone saw a 70% increase in the usage of all of its apps in the month of March. Having helped businesses pivot through the lockdown, if there’s one thing I’ve learned is that there’s no silver bullet to break through the clutter. But, done right, there are a number of approaches brands and creative entrepreneurs can take: 

Share the human story 
People want to follow people and not companies. Create room for honest dialogue, and address the most immediate concerns first. How has the pandemic affected you and your people? What are you doing about it? If the lockdown has affected your business, what is the road to recovery looking like? You might just be surprised by how much your community and friends are willing to come through and support.   

Dig deeper into your ‘Why?’
Arrive at why you launched to begin with, what do you have to offer in these times, and what does your brand stand for. Once this rocky bit is cleared, it will open up ways that you can continue to represent those ideals. It will point you to like-minded collaborators and creatives too. Think about how you can bring some of those conversations online through live chats, podcasts, publishing tools, or collaborations. 

Sonam wears the Devi Dress

Treat your brand like a magazine
This is perhaps the one thing that remains unchanged through the months. No one is logging on to Instagram or Twitter with the hope that you will sell them something special today! But they are looking for something that inspires them, informs them or makes them laugh. Once you’ve done the gritty work of understanding who you are and what you stand for, identify content buckets within your realm quite like the sections of a magazine. This will also help you hash out if an image, recipe, quote or video truly belongs on your feed, and why. 

Give back in a meaningful way 
If you’re going to stay afloat, make sure someone close to you has a life jacket too. If you can pivot and use your craft to give back to society, nothing like it. Every individual has a sphere of influence, and you’re never too small to amplify an NGO or volunteer’s voice. Use your platform to forge meaningful connections.  

Meet your audience where they are
As the pandemic progresses, the tidal wave of conversation around it keeps shifting and evolving. For instance, even the simple concept of productivity looked very different at the start of the pandemic than it does now. From an ambitious narrative, which urged us to do more and do better, we’ve progressed to a more forgiving definition, which factors in the unforeseen circumstances we face today. Likewise, every consumer’s needs are evolving as a result. Identify themes that resonate with your community. What are their concerns now? What drives them? What are their expectations from you? Use polls, messages, and newsletters to understand your community better, and pivot where you can.

Sonam wears the Nora Dress

Healthy metrics lie beyond ‘followers’ and ‘likes’ 
Practically everyone chases these two numbers, but they are no measure of success. You can drive more value with 5 like-minded, engaged followers than you would with 1,000 passive followers. Some of the hidden data tends to be more valuable in this respect. How did it light up your DMs? How many shares did a post get? How many saved it? How many clicks did it drive? Commit to your content strategy. Don’t give up on a new direction, unless you’ve given it a good three to four months.  

Sonam wears the Serena Wrap Dress

Embrace something new 
Every couple of months, look for new ways to flesh out your content buckets – use different tools. Every app has its own storytelling potential. For every mindless video on TikTok, there’s an #edutok out there; Snapchat’s AR is unrivaled; Facebook Events remain a good way to draw attention to your brand; Tweets travel much further than any Instagram post. (In fact, every viral tweet is immortalised on some Instagram aggregator’s page.) Basically, don’t put all your eggs in one Instagram basket.

Live vicariously through your photo albums 
There’s no harm in repurposing images from your archive, so long as you make them relevant for the present day. Dig into your old photo albums, travel photos, lookbooks, product shots... and re-up them with a clear new direction and goal. Don’t just choose the one odd post in that case. Make it a consistent, cohesive story by stringing a few posts together.  

Sonam wears the Serena Bomber Jacket

Make time to listen! 
Most platforms (ok, Instagram and Facebook) want you to post more, post more frequently, and rack up views and likes. But in order to create that meaningful dialogue we spoke about earlier, you need to listen. Get on Twitter and Reddit if you want to stay ahead of the curve, tune into all aspects of a trending topic, and capture the zeitgeist. You can always bring it back to Instagram if that’s where your core audience lives.    

In Frame: Sonam Savlani
Photographs: Siddhant Vaidya
Styling: Manisha Melwani