How to get ads right on social during a global crisis like COVID-19


How do you get the most out of your social media marketing when the entire world has effectively been locked down?

Steve Conway, who’s Social Team Manager at independent media agency Space & Time, takes us through some key elements we could all be thinking about, while we’re all stuck in this global-sized version of the Big Brother House…


Steve Conway:

There is no denying that we have entered an unprecedented period of uncertainty affecting all industries.

However, if history teaches us anything, it’s that when uncertain times end, businesses that then prosper tend to be those that have future-proofed themselves most effectively throughout the turbulence.

There are questions we need to ask, though. Is large investment on lower funnel activity still the most effective use of marketing budget? What does success actually look like in the current climate? And do we need to shift KPIs away from footfall and direct conversions, to awareness, onsite engagement & lead gen?

Long term thinking

Hopefully by now, most people are aware of the 2013 study by Les Binet and Peter Field, entitled The Long and Short of it.

They have been instrumental in showing that “brand building is the main driver of long-term growth and involves the creation of memory structures that prime consumers to want to choose the brand.”

Secondly, it’s also now widely agreed that growth comes through penetration and the ability to reach as many of the potential customers in your category as possible (Source: “How Brands Grow”, Byron Sharp 2010).

Ultimately, we have to broaden our horizons and accept that although we may see lower initial conversion rates with less qualified audiences, the volume of people that we effectively impact will be far greater and ultimately more successful in the long term.

What does that mean for Social?

We are already seeing that social media and video consumption is rising while more and more people are at home – which is something brands can use to their advantage.

These long-term strategies are nothing new in social. In fact, a 2016 Facebook study showed that a reach-optimised campaign was 1.8x more cost-efficient and drove greater total impact than the action-optimised campaign.

However, it is clear, this methodology will become the new norm for the time being.

Actions to be taken with clients

Continue to advertise upper and middle funnel activity. Whilst less people might currently be in-market, having a strong pipeline of leads is imperative to take advantage of the latent demand that will inevitably follow this downturn.

In terms of channels within the Social space, Facebook is still King, but lesser-used platforms such as Pinterest and Snapchat are seeing a resurgence.


Also, we are switching CTAs from more immediate “request appointment” or “shop now” to slightly longer term “register interest” or “learn more” (as examples).

What we suggest you do

You can utilise your social pages as an extra weapon in the customer service armoury and focus on the extra precautionary measures in place that are helping keep business alive.

For example, where phone calls and face-to-face meetings might not be viable, messenger services are filling the gap in client relationship nurturing.

Ramping up community management where possible, will help make consumers feel at ease. In the same vein, virtual Q&A sessions can also ensure customers are well informed and engaged.

Facebook Live, IGTV and Stories are all functions that can bring to life virtual products and services for those who are unable to visit or purchase in person. Creating short informative and fun video clips on a regular basis can keep customers engaged and may lead them to interact with your socials more. Social media managers can visit or other similar video tool websites that can help with creating customized, interesting visual content suited to the business’s regular clientele.

In conclusion

We’re seeing a reduction in CPM across our client accounts as longer term strategies are implemented, meaning that advertisers are actually reaching more of their target audience for the same spend (according to our client data compiled between 11-19 March 2020).

We can’t say for certain how other marketing mediums might be impacted, but it’s clear that digital and more specifically, social, will continue to be ever present in people’s lives.

As such, it is imperative that we also remain at the ready to nurture those potential customers for when these turbulent times end.

Here’s to that!