Coronavirus Innovation Marketing

Social media for brands during lockdown - how to adapt to the new normal

By Chris Adams, Founder & director of growth

Hey Honey


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April 8, 2020 | 8 min read

As pandemic-induced social distancing pushes people to the confines of their own home, all we can say is, “thank God we have the internet to help pass the time”.

Colourful, composite image showing various social media platform icons and a person looking through their fingers

During lockdown people have embraced social media to the point whereby we’ve registered an unprecedented rise in screen time, a 25% increase in engagement on Instagram and TikTok in the past month and a staggering 72% increase on #ad content by influencers.

Here’s three themes we recommend brands to consider on social during this weird, weird time:

Be a force for good

Research was conducted by Kantar that found the majority of the population (92%) did not think that brands should stop advertising all together during the crisis. However, for a brand that does choose to communicate to audiences about the crisis, then its messaging must be supportive of local governments’ and health organisations, while staying true to their brand values.

There was a clear expectation that companies should play their part but use their weight and presence on social media for good not to exploit the situation. Here’s some examples of how that’s already been done:

  • Crocs gives away free Clogs to health workers
  • Gymshark campaigns to raise funds for freelance PTs
  • JBL adapts logo to encourage people to #StayHome
  • Pornhub offers free premium subscription worldwide

There is still ample opportunity out there to do more good, so we’d encourage you to roll up your sleeves and get creative!

Put your audience first

To be honest, you should always put your audience first but right now it’s more important than ever before to truly understand what they want to see from your branded content. This will be vastly different per brand so we don’t claim to own the golden playbook as it’s not a one size fits all strategy. However, here’s a couple of things you could consider:

Make it authentic and keep it real

Most content made by humans on social media today is homegrown, not polished. This is generally how we suggest approaching social content creation regardless of a global pandemic, but it’s more important now than ever before because people want something they can relate to and connect with.

Right now, people cannot relate to million dollar sets, beautiful models and hyper-realistic settings; they are sitting at home with a shirt on the top half and pyjamas on the bottom.

Check out the Adidas #HomeTeam campaign for a good example of brands keeping it real.

Be interactive

The one thing we’re all craving at the moment is connection - especially those that are isolated alone. Creating a campaign around a game, a TikTok brand challenge or a Live on Instagram, YouTube or Twitch have all been tested by brands so far. Now people are sitting at home this is the time to get creative with different platform features and functions that foster interactivity with audiences. Here’s some we found:

Know where your audience is spending their time

Where your audience usually spends their time online has likely changed during these unprecedented times. The use of video chat apps like Instagram Live, Twitch, Zoom and TikTok have risen dramatically during lockdown. Private messaging apps like Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger have seen up to a 70% increase in use during lockdown.

One we’d really like to highlight is that of the Houseparty App. It had two million downloads worldwide in the past week, and was ranked number one in most downloaded apps in 17 countries including the UK, Spain and Italy - three of the most heavily locked down countries in Europe. If you can combine a way to entertain through apps like Houseparty with our tip: “keep it authentic and homemade”, we think you can roll up your sleeves and get creative in between your own four walls and host some live video chat content with your users or influencers!

Get creative with content

For our industry, the outbreak of Covid-19 marks a time when us, creatives and marketers, can no longer rely on big-scale production for content. This shift already started to happen in recent years, but it has now officially ground to a halt with everyone on the same level playing field as each other.

That’s not to say that production as a whole is over, it’s just slightly different. Even the term ‘in-house’ has a new meaning as we’re all literally working in our own houses, no matter who you work for. The internet and digital world has a plethora of exciting ways to connect and communicate with your audience. Here’s a few you could explore:

Face filters, branded effects and GIFs

Face filters on Instagram, branded effects on TikTok and GIFs for Whatsapp, Snap and IG stories are another level of real time social content that users are highly engaged with at the moment whilst at home. Mainly, it keeps people entertained but on another level, if it’s creative enough, the sticker will be spread far and wide beyond your initial follower-base.

Our latest GIFs for Crocs Europe are engaging people sitting at home. With over 225,000 views in a week, these GIFs are enticing to use whilst on lockdown.

Explore AR and VR experiences

We think real life feels like a thing of the past even after just one week of social distancing. AR and VR experiences bring the outside world inside and as well as giving people a taste of what things are like outside of their four walls, AR/VR experiences add a level of interactivity that we are all craving whilst sitting at home.

Live broadcasts

Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter/Periscope, TikTok and Twitch are all platforms that have seen the use of the Live function double in the past week. We can laugh at the fact that it took a pandemic for these functions to really take off but it is one of the most valued features for homegrown content for brands today.

If you can mix this function with our tips on ‘being interactive’ with live Q&As, workouts, games and more, then we think you will see a great return on your efforts. The one thing we value right now is human connection and this is the best feature for it.


To cater for this shift in behaviour, brands shouldn’t be pushing sales messages off the back of the coronavirus, as that’s a sure fire way to alienate your audience who is at home and social distancing. Your audience now, cares mostly about those doing good and so we encourage brands to be confident in their messaging and be brave with their creative so they don’t get lost in the sea of sameness.

Chris Adams, CEO of Hey Honey

Coronavirus Innovation Marketing

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