Covid 19 changed the course of our lives.
And as we make all the necessary measures to protect ourselves and others we are also thinking of how our business should adаpt to these changing times.
For us as Instagram marketers, the core question is how to understand the impacts on our favorite social network and how to adapt our activities.
Instagram is about people, social interactions, outdoor leaving, experiences and now we have a situation to use it in quite the opposite circumstances.
Instagram already joining forces with the public health community’s work to keep Instagram users safe and informed.
So, to help most of you searching for answers or inspiration on these types of questions I decided to make this blog as a resource article, where you can find official and opinionated resources on how Covid 19 impacts Instagram marketing.
You will learn how the virus affected the players in the Instagram community, how businesses are approaching this situation and what can be done to help minimize business disruption during emergencies.
In this article:
- How Covid-19 affect the Instagram network?
- Who is most affected on Instagram?
- How Covid-19 impacts Instagram users?
- How this will affect marketers?
- How does this affect the e-commerce industry?
- What Instagram marketers can do?
- Official Instagram resources you can use
How Covid-19 impacts the Instagram network and what Instagram is doing about it
First things first.
To assure that people won’t use the platform to spread malicious rumors about Covid 19, Instagram embraced its potential as a news aggregator, by announcing several prevention techniques.
Below are some of the measures that Instagram has done until now.
So, if you live in a country that has a significant impact on the virus, you will notice this message once you open your Instagram app:
To prevent fake news related to the virus spreading on the platform, Instagram made an announcement on Twitter that they will remove all the harmful misinformation about COVID-19.
Instead, once you tap on a hashtag about Covid-19, you will be given resources from health authorities that have the official info.
Additionally, to minimize the risk of people abusing this situation, Instagram is already sending false information to fact-checkers, they are banning ads that want to benefit from this situation and restricting malicious hashtags.
After many insensitive jokes about the virus spread on this platform, Instagram decided to prevent users from searching and using COVID-19 related augmented reality effects.
Spark AR already announced that they will be removing the previously published corona virus-related AR effect and are banning all the new ones.
Who is most impacted on Instagram?
Before analyzing the current and future effects of COVID-19, let’s just list the most impacted. These are industries that will be struggling with liquidity and will definitely need government help to survive in the coming months.
Disruption to supply chains for Chinese products
Instagram brands who are mostly drop-shippers and just reselling items from Chinese manufactures, had a huge supply problem in the early days of the outbreak in China. The situation is still problematic in most of the countries, as the imports now from China are limited and users are afraid to buy such products.
Cancelation of conferences and events
Everybody in the event industry all over the world had an immediate, direct and major fall of their business. But luckily, some recovery can be done as these companies started to adapt to the new normal by switching online, thus utilizing the ‘opportunity’ of having people staying at home.
Additionally, the major tech conferences are being canceled, likely resulting in numerous missed partnership opportunities.
Travel Influencers are on hold
As flights, borders, events, and media trips are canceled and hospitality employees tight their budgets, travel influencers are losing their income.
The massive spreading of the Coronavirus is causing real chaos for travel influencers.
Due to the canceled trips, many Instagram travel influences that gain money from spending the majority of the year in the air or on the road are losing money. As a result, their whole career is on hold.
Lockdown of hospitality: Hotels, restaurants, bars
Most of the governments have suggested the closing of these businesses’ physical locations. Meaning, that restaurants and bars can yet deliver directly to consumers that surely open a small door of a small light in the tunnel.
As for how these businesses are impacted feel free to check some of the resources below.
- Corona virus affecting the tourism industry worldwide by Travel Daily News
- Chart: How coronavirus is devastating the restaurant business by Vox Media
- How the coronavirus has affected airlines, hotels, and cruises in one chart by Vox Media
As we learn more we will continue providing more resource links for other industries.
How Covid-19 impacts Instagram users?
Instagram users are at home.
And as I mentioned above, this is unusual for a typical Instagram user.
So by just staying at home, the impacts on their ways of using the network are very different.
Here are some things we are seeing so far.
Increase of time spent on Instagram
As people spend more time home and practice social isolation, we can expect a boost in digital media consumption. They will turn to social networks like Instagram to stay connected with their friends and family and rely on them for news content.
According to the Emarketer report, we can expect a similar scenario to what we have already seen in China – a massive increase in digital media consumption, over-the-top content and online gaming.
“Media platforms popular among young people (including Instagram) could see a boost as kids and teens spend more time indoors”, states the report.
Increase in engagement and posting
This is an obvious effect.
As much people stay on the network they will spend more time engaging with people’s or brand’s content.
This means, that you can expect an increase of comments, likes, views, and similar metrics.
Additionally, as people engage more they will find more time for things to talk about with their friends and community. So, this may impact their urge to post more or even ‘wake up’ Instagram users, who haven’t posted in months.
Influencer marketers say sponsored Instagram posts have had views, likes, and comments sharply increase the past 2 weeks.
Increase in interaction with brands and direct shopping
Having all the time in the world but not having some of the essentials, can lead to an increase in search, discovery, and purchase of the needed products.
As most of the countries are asking people to go out only when they need – and some of them have completely banned this, people will turn directly to the brands on Instagram and purchase products via direct messaging or eCommerce.
And as much as unpleasant the circumstances, these interactions with brands can lead to building solidarity, better relationships and increased trust among consumers and the local businesses.
How Covid-19 impacts Instagram marketers?
Of course, in crises we always see war-profiters.
We can see profiteering advertisers around the corner that want to capitalize on such concerns.
Instagram’s parent company Facebook reacted quickly and immediately took action by banning ads on its platforms that mention cures or prevention of Covid-19.
Even those organic posts with the purpose of selling commerce listings for hand sanitizer, surface disinfecting wipes and COVID-19 testing kits will be removed too, declared Facebook’s Director of Product Management, Rob Leathern in his Twitter announcement.
All the content with false claims and conspiracy theories will be removed too.
Furthermore, in order to practically learn how most of the Instagram first brands responded, here are some of their Instagram posts and how most of them are handling this crisis.
How most of the brands respond on Instagram regarding coronavirus
As a response to the pandemic, many retailers came up with a releasing statement on their Instagram profiles about the measures they are taking to prevent spreading the virus.
While many businesses don’t have the time or energy to maintain their businesses and focus on their online activities at the same time, social media agencies are lending a helping hand for brands to up-level their marketing efforts in these uncertain times.
As many of them are closing their physical stores, they are encouraging customers to visit their online stories and continue to shop online.
Here are some of their Instagram posts, mostly cosmetics, beauty and apparel brands:
Glossier announced temporarily closing all retail locations in New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, London and even postponed the long-awaited opening of Glossier Arizona scheduled for this week.
As the health of the athletes around the world is a top priority for Nike, the athletic wear brand announced closing its stores in the USA, Canada, Australia, Western Europe, and New Zealand. Instead, they redirected their customers to shop Nike.com and the Nike app.
Tiffany & Co.
„Now more than ever, it is time for us to take care of the ones we love”, wrote the famous jewelry company on their Instagram profile, announcing that they will be temporarily closing all Tiffany stores around the world. They ask customers to switch to online shopping and visit their website.
The Danish toy production company is also temporarily closing its physical stores in all countries (except China). In their Instagram post, they declare that their Lego’s online store will remain open.
H & M
The Swedish multinational clothing-retail company announced that in response to the prevention and control of the virus outbreak, they are closing many of their stores worldwide. They add that they will leave a few H&M stores open, but if an emergency strikes, they will be closed too.
- How Beauty And Fashion Brands Are Responding To COVID-19 by Elle.
- JCPenney, Saks + More Fashion Stores Closing Amid the Coronavirus Crisis by Foot Wear News
Ad spending: Decrease in China. Globally is still unknown or might increase in some industries
eMarketer has listed some of the expected impacts on ad spent, so here are their main assumptions with numbers for China:
- Total ad spending – in China to reach $113.70 billion in 2020, down from the previous estimate of $121.13 billion.
- Growth in total ad spending – eMarketer has downgraded China’s 2020 ad spending growth rate to 8.4% from 10.5%, due to a reduction in spending across all media formats, including digital.
- Growth in digital ad spending – by 13% in 2020, compared with a previous estimate of 15.2%. While digital media consumption in China is increasing as consumers spend more time at home, some advertisers are pulling back spend over concerns that supply chain shocks might keep them from getting products to market.
There are still no official estimates for the other markets ad spending, but the assumption is that new industries will emerge in finding opportunities to survive or grow by increasing ad spending especially in social networks or digital marketing.
Spreading awareness with hashtags
As people around the globe are turning on social media to share their stories and increase awareness about how vulnerable we are to COVID-19.
Many companies are joining this initiative to appeal about staying safe and working from home when possible.
You can notice some of these coronavirus hashtags they are using when creating posts:
Delay in Ads review due to a decreased number of contract workers
On the 18th of March, Facebook announced that they will send home all contract workers who perform the content review, until further notice.
This action will impact the advertisers:
- Delayed review for ads and commerce listings
- An increase in ads being incorrectly disapproved
- Delayed or reduced appeals
- More limited availability of Facebook in-stream ads and lower delivery
How Covid-19 impact eCommerce industry?
Unlike the retailers with a mostly offline presence, e-commerce is likely to grow as consumers already avoid physical stores and public areas of travel.
Increase online store visits
This could shift day-to-day shopping to digital channels like Amazon, Shopify, and other e-tailer platforms.
Overwhelm logistics and order fulfillment
The huge demand and the increase in online orders will definitely result in shortages, especially in markets where products are mostly imported from other countries.
Gain new customers
If the challenges are overcome, most of the eCommerce stores will gain new customers who most likely never or rarely used the Internet for shopping. With a successful order fulfillment in the long term, these stores can see a great trend in their growth.
What Instagram marketers can do?
To support businesses through the unexpected challenges they might face during the coronavirus crises, Facebook created a guide with 5 steps you can take today:
Keep yourself safe and informed
Stay up to date by following credible, official sources like the World Health Organization (WHO) and your local government health department so you can respond quickly to changes that could affect you or your customers. Follow WHO on Facebook or Instagram.
Create a Quick Action guide
This guide is suggested by Facebook for Business and is useful for companies to plan emergency response and develop plans to minimize downtime.
Here is a link to the template.
Stay in touch with your customers
Proactively share important information with your customers using email, your website, Facebook Page, Instagram Business Profile, or however you typically connect.
Remember that you can pin important posts to the top of your Facebook Page for quick viewing. You might include information about the measures you’re taking to make your premises or products safe, or how you will handle customer inquiries if there are expected shipping delays.
Try hosting online events
Prepare a customer service plan
In order to be responsive and transparent with your customers during this challenging moment, prepare for incoming questions and requests. Consider drafting templated responses for your emails or set up instant-reply messages with information you expect your customers will be looking for.
Connect with your customers for free in real-time using Instagram Direct Messages, Messenger or setting up a WhatsApp Business profile.
Provide a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Prepare a list of responses for questions your customers are likely to ask and provide as much detail and reassurance as possible in your answers.
Here is an example of what an FAQ could look like:
Q: Can I cancel my order (travel tickets / educational programs/gym memberships)?
A: Of course we will cancel your order / reschedule or cancel your trip / pause your membership on request. Once your order is canceled, the spend amount from your original purchase will be refunded to your account. We look forward to doing business with you again soon.
Additionally, to help businesses minimize the business disruption during emergencies, Facebook is suggesting: Connect with your customers and employees virtually by creating a Facebook business Page, an Instagram business account and a WhatsApp business profile for your business.
Moreover, they are encouraging marketers to use these free suite of tools and connect with customers using Facebook and Instagram Live.
Finally, switch to sell online if possible
From everything we analyzed above, we can all agree that brands need to adapt to these major changes.
So if your business can switch online and organize delivery, that is the best thing you can do right now, as a marketer and as a business owner.
You don’t need to have an eCommerce store to do this.
Just post your offers on Instagram and give details on how people can order via phone or direct messaging.
Upcoming Instagram updates to expect
To empower the community of small businesses, Instagram announced that in the days and weeks ahead they can expect Q&A sessions with business experts, positive practices on how entrepreneurs should connect with customers and many resources and insights for meeting challenges like these.
To make sure they bring you the content you need to keep your business strong and maintain your business vision, Instagram posted a Question sticker asking what type of insights and resources would be helpful for your brand at this time.
Everyone is welcomed to contribute to the discussion.
Official Instagram and Facebook resources to respond to the coronavirus crisis
Here are the main official Instagram resources you can follow to be informed about the latest updates:
- Managing through and building resilience during the COVID-19 outbreak by Small Business Resource Hub
- Latest Instagram updates of the platform by Instagrams Twitter account
- Keeping People Safe and Informed About the Coronavirus by Facebook Newsroom
- How to help minimize business disruption during emergencies by Facebook for business
- Create a personal fundraiser on Facebook for your business and ask customers to support you during this critical time
- Connecting Communities With Accurate Health Information About Coronavirus (COVID-19) by Facebook community
- Enabling businesses to announce temporary service changes on their Facebook Page and Facebook searches by Facebook for business
- Business Resilience Toolkit by Facebook for Business
- Facebook Small Business Grant – A $100M grant program to support small businesses
- Set up a gift card with one of Facebook partners so people can find and support your business by Facebook for businesses
We will continue updating this article with more useful resources for a business struggling to make a strategy or find opportunities with Instagram marketing in these very difficult times.
Please stay safe, protect yourself, your customers, and especially the most impacted.