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Published March 26th 2020

Brandwatch Covid-19 Bulletin #5: Comms, Complaints, and Crunches

Welcome to today’s bulletin and thanks for reading. If you want to get these straight to your inbox, head here to get subscribed.

Let’s get to it.

Keeping fit in isolation

A quarter of the world is under some kind of lockdown. With gyms closed and movement around public places restricted the world over, people are obviously worried about their physical health.

How can you exercise when you can’t leave the house? You exercise at home (or not at all).

This month 83k people have talked about home gyms and exercising at home online. In the whole of March last year that number was 15k, making this a year-on-year jump of 375%.

Unsurprisingly it’s also bucked the usual trend for this kind of talk. In the five years previous to 2020, home gym chat increased on average by 1% from February to March. Here’s how it looks in 2020.

For exercise equipment companies, their marketing and sales plans have been thrown out of whack. There’s no precedent to base a plan on – even the ‘new year, new me’ boost pales in comparison to this.

But with change comes opportunity. For companies who have been on top of their SEO, they’ll be reaping the benefits now (if they can keep up with demand). Others should be funnelling money into ads, or figuring out ways to get social media attention.

This is also a stark lesson for brands in general. Everyone is walking into new territory semi-blind. If they’re not readjusting their plans to fit what’s going on, they’re going to fall behind very quickly.

Internet lag starts taking its toll

In 2019 there were 4.39 billion internet users – half of the world’s population – with 3.48 billion of us using social media. With many of us working from home, and trying to entertain ourselves indoors, it’s meant a big surge for internet service providers, and it looks like they could be struggling.

Although streaming sites and mobile companies have taken action to lower bandwidth usage, people are taking to social media to vent about their internet connection.

From January 1 – March 25, there were 112.6k English-language mention of terms related to broadband speed , with the majority of those mentions falling after March 9. Conversation peaked on March 13, with 18k mentions about internet connections in relation to coronavirus – the same day Donald Trump declared a state of emergency.

And, unsurprisingly, 69% of English-language mentions were angry their connection couldn’t cope. These complaints will surely soar now India’s lock-down has commenced, if their service providers are unable to take on the demand.

So what can internet companies do to help consumers?

Communicating with customers about outages, or issues, and getting support when it’s needed will help keep customers satisfied.

Sharing tips for getting the most out of your available internet could also be a good way to keep things running. UK broadcast regulator, OfCom released some wacky speed ideas which work, like not running your microwave.

Getting Covid-19 communications right

We’ve all read stuff about ‘company comms in a crisis’. Up until a month ago, I doubt many had read much about ‘company comms in a pandemic’.

Again, we’re in uncharted territory. Usually a crisis happens to one company at a time, so all the attention is on them. Now every company is in a kind of crisis mode, and that’s led to some unnecessary (or just plain awful) comms as some try to battle for attention.

Emails are being sent left, right, and center to databases, but in a lot of cases little thought is being put into it. People are reporting Covid-19 comms from clothing companies they bought from years ago. Not exactly appropriate, or useful.

It’s not a shock that people aren’t happy about this influx of unnecessary comms, with 43% of people discussing the topic angry about it.

Generally, you should only send mass emails about Covid-19 when your business could be genuinely affected by the pandemic, you have something important or useful to announce, and you’re contacting people who will actually care.

That brings us to Slack CEO, Stewart Butterfield. It’s not an email, but it’s a master example of knowing where you and your comms fit in a crisis, what people actually want to know, and putting it across with clarity and the right tone.

Butterfield put out an in-depth Twitter thread about how Covid-19 has affected Slack’s business operations, along with the massive uptick in users on the platform. We won’t say anymore except: go read it.

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Thanks for reading

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Stay safe,

Brandwatch Response Team

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