August 30, 2022

How to Use Social Media in Times of Economic Uncertainty

Carrie Kerpen

Chances are, if you’re reading the news as of late, you’re feeling pretty uncertain about the future of our economy. You can be reading about layoffs or the stalling of VC dollars, and the next minute you’ll be reading about how it’s not technically a recession because the unemployment rate is near a historic low. And of course, when you read that Adam Neumann is somehow able to raise obscene amounts of money again, well, it just feels like the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Whether you’re talking to an economist, a marketer, or a journalist, one thing is certain: Times are uncertain.

So as a marketer, what is one to do? Is this the time to conserve your cash, hunker down and slash spending? Or, is it the time to invest in marketing smart new products or services built for this ever-changing world? I want to share with you some of the tips that I’m using that help me decide what to do in an economy like this.

As a former business owner and now leader of a business unit within a larger organization, I can tell you that I personally am returning to my scrappy, entrepreneurial roots. I’m not frivolously spending, but I am spending smart. I am spending primarily on efforts around social media.

Here are some ways I’m investing in social media in an uncertain economy:

First and foremost, what I am spending most of my time and money on is listening. I am listening—via social media and IRL. For social media, I set up a variety of feeds and keywords that give me the data I want and need. I run reports on this and make decisions based on common themes. I look at what my employees and prospective employees are saying about work-life balance and what’s needed in today’s world. I’m listening to what marketers are saying about what’s working and what’s not. When it comes to my real-life interactions, I’m listening to what my clients are saying about where their pain points are and how to meet them. I’m listening to peers at conferences tell me what they’re experiencing. And of course, I’m meeting with my employees regularly. I make investment decisions based on the ideas and insights I glean from listening.

The whole listening thing makes sense since I started this business as a word-of-mouth marketing agency. As the data shows, a recommendation from a friend is worth a whole lot. When I’m recommending social media marketing for clients and even for Likeable, at this time, I’m focusing on advocacy. I’m looking for folks who genuinely care about a business, and I’m making it easy for them to share that. I love influencers, but I love true advocates way more, and I truly think there is no more effective form of marketing than authentic endorsements from folks with a truly engaged following. And in this economy, it’s more important than ever that the advocate be authentic and not just someone who collects “dollars for posts.”

Whether it’s a recession or not, we are in a time where inflation is on the rise, diseases lurk around every corner, technology is outpacing the speed of business decisions, and consumer confidence is questionable at best. In an environment like this, I am focused on being nimble. One of the first areas you’re seeing getting cut right now is R&D. Why? Because the focus needs to be on the right now. When things change at a moment’s notice, you have to be able to change with them. This is one of the things I love about social media—it provides a ground to test. If something doesn’t work, you move on. If something major happens in the world, you can instantly adjust to react as needed in a way that investing millions of dollars in a huge, long-planned campaign can’t provide. Social media is nimble and scrappy, and that’s important at this time in the world.

However, what’s also important at this time is cold, hard ROI. Therefore, it is imperative that your efforts be tied to a return. For me, I use social, IRL listening, and content creation to show me what will convert—then I often use that in search marketing or even my talking points in new business meetings. Whatever social media efforts I work on, they must be focused and lead towards a longer-term goal of conversion.

How do you feel about the economy, and how are you using social media marketing during this time? Be sure to keep up with our weekly newsletter for up-to-date information on how this is impacting social media. Subscribe here.

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