Marketers must question themselves about how they can spread positivity: Rishabh Sharma, Twitter

Saloni Surti
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Rishabh Sharma

In conversation with Social Samosa, Sharma decodes Twitter marketing in the background of a global pandemic & how brands and agencies can adapt to it. 

The global crisis created by the pandemic has changed the very fabric of consumer behavior, consumption, and attention. As the consumers evolve, so does the industry. Rishabh Sharma, Head - Twitter Next, India shares his two cents on how brands & agencies attempt to re-evaluate & adapt to the current situation and Twitter’s role in the new economy. 

Edited Excerpts: 

In a scenario of such global crisis, how do brands engage with & help the consumers without crossing the line towards insensitivity? What kind of a role can Twitter play in this?

During these uncertain times, brands have an opportunity to lead by example by informing, connecting, entertaining, and helping. It is important to understand that the crisis cannot be treated as a marketing opportunity. 

With this approach, brands need to focus on how their communication will positively impact and enable their audiences to get through this global pandemic. While brands are rethinking their communication strategies, they must also help their audience stay aware of how the crisis can be dealt with. Several brands such as Fevicol, HDFC, and many others, tweaked their logos to emphasise the necessity of social distancing at the time. 

Several brands have taken up the responsibility to contribute to relief initiatives while others are taking their communication a notch higher by aligning them with a cause. Zomato, for instance, with its Feeding India project, has been delivering food to the underprivileged in remote areas. 

Another essential responsibility that lies with brands and businesses in general is to find ways to keep serving their customers amid the crisis. Dominos India used Twitter to communicate the various measures that the company, their stores and delivery staff are undertaking to ensure healthy and safe deliveries.

As customers navigate through the crisis and limited availability of resources, brands must understand the customers’ mindsets and be empathetic in how they're approaching their audiences. Language and tone of voice in communication hold critical importance, now more than ever. While delivering the right messages is important, it is also imperative to craft the message in a way for it to connect with the sentiments of the consumer. To do so it is important for brands to constantly monitor and understand the evolving sentiment of the audiences. 

Twitter is the most suited service for real time conversations. User generated content is the guide to a brand’s communication with its customers, and Twitter gives direct, first-hand access to that. 

To keep the audience engaged, we're seeing a number of promoted trends & elaborate brand campaigns on the platform. How is the performance of these campaigns? Further, how should brands approach Twitter Marketing during such a situation? 

COVID-19 has impacted not just consumers, but brands and businesses have also been hit. The impact is leading brands to rethink their approach and rework their plans. As customers are spending more time online, brands are redirecting their strategies to engage with audiences through the digital medium.

We’ve seen the video format drive success for a number of brands. Audiences engage more immersively with video content, making it a popular pick by brands when they choose how to interact with their audiences

We’re working with a large number of brands to help them achieve their communication goals, especially in times like these. As people are spending more time on the service during the lockdown, campaigns are reaching more timelines and making larger impressions as people are spending more time talking about what’s resonating with them.   

3 tips for brands/agencies to make Twitter use (in terms of marketing, running ads, etc.) easier.

In line with the shifts in brand practices that we are seeing on the service, we have updated our ads policy to allow for helpful, supportive and important messaging that we feel should be amplified. Our policy will likely continue to adapt as circumstances change

On how brands should be using Twitter, I would say the following - 

Use Twitter to inform: 

Consumers are constantly looking for information on varied topics to tackle the current situation. Brands should share any information that might prove valuable in keeping audiences informed. For instance, it is essential for retail and e-commerce brands to keep the public updated on ways they can access and buy essentials. Brands and marketers should also be transparent and share important information about the company or the employees (e.g. around transmission of the virus).

Use Twitter to entertain

Levity, light-hearted humour and a dash of entertainment can go a long way in striking the right chord with audiences in times like this. Such communication could serve as a breath of fresh air and provide a much-needed break from an overwhelming news-cycle. 

Use Twitter to connect

People are coming together online to form virtual communities to celebrate moments such as Earth Day, World Book Day and even something as simple as unexpected rain showers. With live events being cancelled, several sport brands are also organising virtual experiences to connect with audiences. In the face of lockdown, there are several examples of beautiful moments of connection across India, showing the importance of positivity and connection right now. 

Also Read: #SamosaTalks: How are agencies coping with the COVID-19 crisis and lockdown?

Do you have any message for brands & agencies? What can they expect from Twitter in the coming months?

It is imperative for brands to think thoroughly while devising communication plans. Understanding the present situation, anticipating how your customer is reacting to it and what needs are growing out of the situation, must stay at the core of a brand’s communication strategy. It is thus also crucial for brands to be flexible to changing circumstances. Marketers must also ask themselves questions about how they can spread positivity among consumers and bring the community together, while staying sensitive to the situation, of course. 

At Twitter, we are looking forward to supporting more brands and providing marketers with counsel on navigating communication challenges, as well as connecting with their audiences in more meaningful ways. 

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