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Twitter Conversations Around COVID-19 Spark Renewed Call for Social Listening

By: Sophie Maerowitz

March 25, 2020

During the last several weeks, COVID-19 has dominated social media, all but wiping out other topics and news items. COVID-19 has amassed upward of 197 million Twitter mentions worldwide during the last two weeks, Sprout Social told The Social Shake-Up.

Social marketers face a conundrum: Brands that don’t provide health care, food and related services to the public are wondering whether or not they should bother monitoring social media conversations around the disease. Savvy marketers know they should. Monitoring social conversations around COVID-19 can help social media communicators formulate action plans during this uncertain period, Sprout Social senior manager of content and communications Alicia Johnston argues. Social listening helps social media pros “develop effective response strategies, make deeper connections with their community and build lasting trust that will see them through this global crisis,” she adds.

Some non-health care brands are monitoring conversations about their virus-related efforts. For example, luxury brand LVMH increased online mentions 166 percent (vs. March 2019) and engagement 551 percent following the news that it’s producing hand sanitizer and masks, Talkwalker data shows. Nike’s #Playinside and #Playfortheworld effort saw brand mentions jump 17 percent March 21, the day the campaign launched, versus the previous day.

PlanetFitness saw mentions rise 760 percent from March 15-24 around the gym chain’s at-home workout, Talkwalker says. Not a surprise that Zoom found conversations about it spiking. From March 1-24, “Zoom” and “meeting” returned nearly 1 million engagements, an increase of 9,580 percent from February.

Notable data from Sprout Social includes:

So, how should social marketers put these statistics to good use? Provide audiences value in response to topics like the above, even if it’s a new area for your brand. (That is, if your brand can speak from a place of relevance and authority in those areas.)

“This is the time to try something new—having your CEO offer guidance on LinkedIn, experimenting with TikTok,” said Carreen Winters, chair of reputation management and chief strategy officer at MWWPR, during a free, Yonder-sponsored PRNEWS webinar about communicating around the virus. (A free replay will be available tomorrow.)

Winters said LinkedIn and other platforms “are hungry” for thought leadership about how the business world is responding. Similarly, consumers are looking for infotainment and up-to-date information. “Be sure to offer [audiences] value…rather than trying to sell them something, which can come off as tone-deaf,” she said.

She also argued that paid social should not necessarily be taken off the table. “As long as we’re not trying to sell something that is not useful.” For example, a gas company that offers to fill the tanks of health care workers could use paid social to spread its offer. “This is the time to get busy with social and give it a chance,” Winters added. Naturally, that starts with listening to what people are tweeting and posting about daily.

Follow Sophie: @SophieMaerowitz

At The Social Shake-Up