COVID-19 Digital communication in times of crisis

March 25, 2020

The coronavirus presents companies and their brands with major challenges. Events such as festivals, sporting events, and trade fairs are being canceled in series and planned marketing measures in connection with them cannot be implemented. In addition, content plans that were planned months in advance are being reduced to absurdity and there is uncertainty as to how to communicate at all during the crisis. This is why we at Davies Meyer would like to provide our clients with recommendations for action that will help them to be pioneers in digital communication even in times of curfews, quarantine, and panic. True to our guiding principle: For leading brands.


Get to know your target group from a new perspective

 Hardly any other crisis in the past has changed consumer behavior as much as the corona pandemic. While offline activities are (must be) greatly reduced, the desire to shift them to the digital world and thus to consume online is increasing. For example, social media usage is increasing: it is estimated that people are on average 53% more on Facebook and 32% more on Instagram. Among other things, this compensates for the time lost due to missing concerts, theater and cinema visits, meetings with friends or shopping trips. Product interests are also shifting: The demand for hygiene products such as toilet paper, soap and disinfectants are growing strongly. Less emphasis is being placed on freshness and originality in the food sector – durable foods such as noodles, rice, flour, and canned foods are landing in the shopping trolley all the more often. The shopping cart is generally much more packed than before the Corona crisis.


Review your communication measures

With the knowledge of where your target group is now increasingly located and what is important to them, you should take a close look at your planned communication measures. Sort your measures into three different imaginary boxes.

The first box should contain all the measures that are not practicable due to the Corona crisis (or that do not make any sense) and cannot be transformed into the digital world. These can be trade fair appearances, out-of-home campaigns or even POS activities. Grab this box, stow it in the attic and bring it back down when the whole spook is over.

In your second box, you can put all the activities that are planned offline, but which can also be transferred to the net with a lot of effort and creativity. Want an example? The Berlin club scene is currently suffering greatly from event cancellations. The club owners’ idea? We team up, look for strong media partners with Arte Concerts and radios and let our DJs play live in our closed clubs. The music experience is brought via the platform as a live stream against donation directly into the living rooms of all music fans. That shows: Certain events, participatory activities or shops can also be made available digitally in the same or slightly modified form.

The third box is your online activities, which can be carried out even in times of a pandemic. But even here there are some things to consider because your fans might react more sensitive to your content. Therefore, a review of your content plan is absolutely necessary.


The best formats for the Corona period

I’m sure you’ve noticed by now: Responding to the special needs of your target group during a crisis is the essence of successful corona communication. These formats are particularly in demand at the moment:

Quarantine Cooking

We know: In target groups, people buy mainly durable food, which ensures their own basic needs. Pasta, potatoes, rice, canned food, frozen food – think of creative recipes for quarantine. If you master the supreme discipline and integrate your own product perfectly, nothing stands in the way of a positive perception of your brand!

Live streaming

People who can no longer attend concerts, theatres or other entertainment venues want to be entertained in their own four walls – as live as possible, as close to the original as possible. So: Book musicians, artists, cooks or simply influencers for your social media channels, produce attention-grabbing, entertaining content and distribute it via Facebook Live or Instagram TV! The festival where your brand is a sponsor has been canceled? Then grab a musician from the line-up and bring him or her with a live concert exclusively into the living rooms of disappointed festival-goers. Whether it’s a living room concert, live cooking or stand-up comedy – the possibilities of entertainment are limitless and create a positive brand image in times of crisis.

• #StayAtHome Challenge

Your followers not only want to be entertained – even better, you include them in your content (keyword user-generated content) and get their circulation going a little bit. Small, fun challenges are perfect for this. Want some inspiration? Juggling toilet paper, eating spaghetti Napoli blindfolded without spilling it, this is the place to get really creative and get involved.

• Instagram Shopping

Just because all the shops in the mall have closed, you don’t need to think that your fans’ shopping urge is over. On the contrary, by spending more time on Instagram and on the Internet in general, they are confronted with an excess amount of products even more than before. Your own brand may fall a little behind if it is not available online. Why not use this situation to discover new shopping channels for your product – Instagram Shopping, for example? Integrate your products into your feed and make them directly available for purchase with just one click.


Imagery, tonality & Co. – This is how you should communicate


Pay attention to your ( visual ) language. In general, you will achieve more positive results if you don’t approach the topic too rigidly, but still make your fans smile and laugh, and always demonstrate a feeling for the seriousness of the situation. We’ll show you a few pillars that you can use for digital communication with your followers:

Don’t appear to want to profit from the crisis

Nothing is worse than your fans thinking that your brand is trying to capitalize on the distress of others. Marketing based on bottlenecks and other restrictions during Corona definitely has a negative impact on the brand image. Therefore see yourself as part of the crisis: show your fans how you deal with the whole situation: What measures are you taking, for example, to protect the common good? That creates sympathy and welds the target group and the brand closer together. True to the motto: We are all in the same boat!

Transparency is the be-all and end-all

Most likely you would be lying if you told your fans that the Corona crisis has no impact on your brand or the company behind it. Let me tell you: staff and supply shortages are quite normal in these times and are not perceived negatively by the community. The only prerequisite is that they are communicated transparently. Make sure that your followers always know where they stand and who they can turn to if they have any questions. Place such information prominently on your website and your social media channels. Furthermore, an extra “Corona Newsletter” can generate additional coverage for your announcements.

Do not encourage meetings or unreasonable actions

Ticket raffles for festivals, POS actions or even just a picture with a crowd of people on the beach – even the smallest connection to currently forbidden or frowned upon crowds of people can cause negative reactions from your fans. Check your future planned posts, but also your posts from the near past, to see if they match your followers’ current imposed lifestyle. Replace content that is targeted at community outings, outdoor activities, and event visits with content that is related to home life, such as recipes, DIY ideas, and book tips.

Watch your tone of voice

Coronavirus is a controversial topic. Some people underestimate it, others take it very seriously. You should also and above all you should always let this resonate in the tonality of your brand communication. A bit of humor on topics such as hamster buying can’t hurt, but you should always keep in mind that some of your fans will be affected by the disease themselves. These fans are not always “joking”. Therefore: Always pay attention to sensitive and encouraging words when communicating with the community.

Use the most up-to-date hashtags

In order to make your posts easier to find and to give them additional relevance and timeliness, you should use the common hashtags associated with the Coronavirus in your posts where appropriate:







#We stay at home

#we stay together


Last but not least, it is worth noting that what is true today may already be yesterday’s news tomorrow. Therefore, always keep an eye on the latest situation and adapt your (digital) communication measures to the newest developments. Davies Meyer can help you to have the right action on the digital road for every moment of the crisis. In this way, you can turn the risk of COVID-19 into an opportunity to connect with our target audience in a meaningful way.


Henri Schütte