How to build an Instagram strategy amidst COVID-19?

Instagram strategy COVID-19

Grapes Digital’s Shradha Agarwal pens down things brands should keep in mind as they build a COVID-19 sensitive Instagram marketing strategy.

As marketers say Facebook is for friends’ real-life updates, Twitter is for arguments and opinions, TikTok is for joy and engagement and Instagram is for aspirational lifestyle. So, that brings us to the million-dollar question, what should be the ‘Right and Sensitive’ Instagram strategy for brands during these COVID-19 times.

As per the recent Google Brand 2020 Report, users are still looking for “the best” of whatever they need and business that can help them find it safely, quickly and conveniently. However, the priorities have changed from searching for best headset, 2W Insurance, skincare brands etc in 2019 to the below during COVID in 2020: 

  1. Best movies
  2. Best trading platform
  3. Best ways to lose weight 
  4. Best way to learn English 
  5. Best way to Study 
  6. Best Telugu movies 2020 

The search patterns indicate that during COVID-19 consumers are more focussed towards utilising this time to either to meet their goals like losing weight or learning English; to identifying ways to earn extra bucks through trading platforms; to just spending the time watching entertainment content, doing fam jams or cooking.

As we understand that both online and offline retail shops are closed to offer you any non-essential product, consideration to buy them has also gone down drastically. So that helps us divide our approach into two parts:

  1. Essential Category: Brands like Groceries, Pharmacies, OTC, Education, FMCG and Telecom.
  2. Non-Essential Category: Brands like Auto, Lifestyle, Retail, Toys and Electronics.

Essential Category

If your brand belongs to the essential category, it is really important for you to safeguard your brand interest and loyalty, as today consumers are ready and open to explore new brands who are adaptive to COVID needs. They are picking up the items that are available on the shelf and/or choosing options who are showing signs of being careful during COVID-19.

So if you belong to essential category, you should focus on content that would drive the full purchase funnel i.e. Awareness, Consideration, Preference, Purchase and Loyalty.

The biggest communication aspect that needs to be harped is availability and place to purchase.

Looking at people struggling to buy packaged drinking water and moving to competitive brands, Bisleri created ads across digital on how to order during the lockdown. The brand’s Instagram strategy is woven around aspiring people to stay hydrated at home as the brand gets water delivered. Before COVID-19, their communication was all about product usage and engaging users with the brand.

Also Read: How to make sure your brand creatives stand out on Instagram?

Another quick example is Groviva, a nutritional health drink for kids, that focussed on pushing immunity as the key benefit of the product amidst COVID-19, focussing on physical development.

Non-Essential Category

Now, this is where everyone is confused about what to do and what to say. Let’s face it, we can’t sell right now, people can’t move out and travel; their aspirations were built on show business, which is next to zero right now, because of social distancing. So, how do you engage with your consumers on Instagram and still keep their aspiration high?

We at Grapes, follow a model that defines the need for your existence called RTE Model — Reason to Exist.

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With the help of the RTE model, you chart out the reason for your existence in a consumer’s life. Apart from being just transactional because of your product RTB, which is the reason why the ‘category’ exists; USP and aspirational values of your brand (and not just the product) is why your ‘brand’ exists.

So, how do you make the communication relevant for consumers during COVID-19? The answer lies in moving outwards of the RTE model by re-prioritising consumer needs and focus on the content bucket rather than the category and your brand.

For a brand like Geetanjali Salons, which is driven only through retail, the content is being re-focussed on DIY salon as insights indicate that people are searching along the lines of ‘how-to’.

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Also Read: Instagram Playbook for brands to communicate with ease amidst COVID-19

Brands may fear that if we teach them the ‘How to’, people may never come back to them. However, they never chose the brands because they couldn’t do these things by themselves at home earlier. People were choosing the band because of other reasons like experience, lack of time and tasks being too cumbersome.

It is very important that you keep the consumer pulse at the centre of everything you do. On social media, it is indispensable. If you are an Essential Category brand, go out with all your guns, and advertise to drive full-funnel, i.e. awareness, recall, consideration and everything that’s possible, as brand loyalty in this category is lowest right now.

If you belong to the Non-Essential Category, move outwards the RTE model and focus on content around consumer needs rather than only talking about the brand.

This article has been authored by Shradha Agarwal, Co-Founder & COO, Grapes Digital.


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