It will come as no surprise to hear that during these unprecedented times, we’re all spending more time online. Analysis from Vodafone has shown that internet usage has surged by up to 50 percent in some European countries (it’s closer to 30 percent in the UK) — with usage peaking between 6 pm and 8 pm. What’s more, social media usage is on the rise, reports suggest a 22 percent increase in Instagram campaign impressions from Q4 2019 to Q1 2020. Whilst 66 percent of social media consumers say they expect their consumption to increase during Coronavirus confinement.

Brands and retailers are grappling with what their social media strategy should encompass as we enter uncharted territory. Should brands be increasing spend or scaling back? Studies suggest that overall across all categories, there’s been a 25 percent year-over-year increase in ad spending on digital platforms for the first half of March.

Connecting with customers over social media has never been more important. The majority of Facebook and Instagram users are consumers who are actively seeking ideas, inspiration and product information; now more than ever. Eight in ten accounts follow at least one business on Instagram, 69 percent of 18-25 year olds have bought products after seeing Instagram ads and almost half of all consumers say they have purchased products from brands after discovering them on Facebook.

Here are five brands who are leveraging social media to stay connected to their customers with messages of optimism during these challenging times.

Gymshark “Entertainment First”

This British success story, founded by 19 year old Ben Francis is now a multi-million pound business targeting Gen Z with activewear.

With 4.2 million followers on Instagram, they’ve taken to social media with their usual mix of inspirational yet entertaining content. Sharing helpful tips for exercising from home, they are ensuring their brand remains front of mind for their target audience.

In addition, Gymshark was one of the early adopters of TikTok — it’s estimated their users open the app more than eight times a day. They feature daily posts of their fans and key fitness influencers acting out challenges or new dances in full Gymshark attire, encouraging them to create their own content. “We soon realised that, instead of trying to push out hardcore fitness content, we needed to pay close attention to what the users like, creating entertaining videos but with a fitness twist. By doing this, we’re staying true to our DNA while adapting to the platform.

Mac #VivaGlam

Beauty brand Mac have put charitable donations at the heart of their social media. The Viva Glam campaign is donating 100 percent of the sale of its unique Viva Glam Lipstick to support vulnerable communities suffering from the impacts of COVID-19, and the company has pledged $10,000,000 to support organisations on the front line. Including those delivering emergency food supplies and those helping to test and treat diagnosed cases.

To get involved in the campaign consumers can purchase any shade of the current lipstick or send a virtual kiss to those on the front line via twitter or Instagram with hashtag #vivaglam.

“Viva Glam has never been about one cause, but about supporting vulnerable communities,” said the chairman of the Mac Viva Glam Fund, John Demsey. “It was created many years ago simply as a hardship fund for people who needed safety nets. To help people affected by COVID-19 is a continuation of the principles Viva Glam was founded on.”

John Lewis “Here to Help”

It’s not just digital native brands who are adapting their social media strategy, British department store John Lewis have become a go-to for helpful, practical advice to assist customers dealing with the new challenges of life under lockdown. From recipes for easy bake at home bread, to tips on managing working from home with kids — they’ve demonstrated why they are one of the nation’s most trusted and valued brands.

They are also ensuring all of their product featuring posts are shoppable. Just a reminder with Shopping on Instagram, you can make it easy for users to explore and buy your best products by tagging them in organic posts. These shopping posts can be used to give people quick access to pricing and product details — both within the Instagram feed and via the Shop tab on your business profile. After choosing the photos you’d like to feature, you can tag posts with up to five products per image.


The White Company “Celebrate Your Space”

British lifestyle and homeware retailer The White Company have been using their social media to promote taking joy in your home. The company have launched a “cosy corners” competition to encourage shoppers to share photos of their special spaces using the hashtag #mywhiteco to win a £200 gift voucher.

In addition to this, they are sharing expert advice from sleep consultants and best practices to help ensure a good night’s sleep and boost overall wellbeing.

Colgate “The Power of a Smile”

An uplifting campaign from toothpaste specialists “Colgate” whose message of optimism includes the caption “The power of a smile is greater than the distance separating us.”

During these uncertain times where the future of the retail industry can seem unclear, it’s important to continue to share the messages of positivity from so many brands who are using creative ways to support their customers and provide light entertainment to those who need it.