You don't need me to tell you that New Zealand is in recession; as our GDP falls for the second quarter. As stated by Kiwibank, household consumption is contracting, and business and household confidence remains low. This isn't music to marketer's ears; as ours is often the first budget to be scrapped when profits slow.  

Social's Strengths:

As budgets get smaller, it can be hard to focus on the positives. So we've done that for you! Let's look at the strengths of social media marketing and what it can bring to your business when the economy has a mini meltdown.  

Use Thoughtful Messaging and High-Quality Creative:

The good news is you will find your audience on social. People spend more time on social media platforms during tough economic times, seeking distractions, entertainment, and social interaction (Shoo Social Media).

Now you know where you can find your audience in tough times, ensure you are speaking their language. Consumers may be more sensitive during a recession. Tracksuit recommends you tweak your tone of voice to be empathetic to the financial struggles your customers face.

Ensure your posts have a lasting impression with high-quality creative. Capture your audience's attention: make them laugh, be vulnerable, or honest. If possible - all three. This will lead to more brand recognition and positive feelings towards your company.

Save Money on Social, But Don't Slow Spend:

Social media marketing is way more affordable than traditional marketing channels such as radio, print, and billboards. Advertising is flexible and responsive to your business's needs. This is crucial when you need to make every dollar count.

While social ads can be cheaper, you shouldn't slash your budget.

In an economic downturn, when many businesses cut back on marketing expenses, maintaining or even increasing social media marketing efforts can provide a competitive edge. Brands that increase advertising during a recession experience significant sales growth (Tracksuit).

Check out these stats from a study by MarketSense during the 1989-1991 recession. Brands that upped their advertising during this time saw serious sales growth!

  • 57% growth: Jif Peanut Butter
  • 70% growth: Kraft Salad Dressing  
  • 61% growth: Pizza Hut
  • McDonald’s cut their budget, and sales dropped by 28%.

Brand Investment and "Future Demand":

Reducing brand marketing during an economic slump may provide short-term gains, but you risk long-term negative consequences.

Harvard Business Review analysed the performance of companies during recent recessions and found that 80% of companies that cut marketing costs hadn't regained their pre-recession sales and profits within three years (Tracksuit). Investing in brand marketing during economic downturns ensures commercial success and future demand (coined by Marketing Association fav James Hurman).

Respond to Your Customers and Make Them Feel Heard:

Aside from just sales attempts and behind-the-scenes peeks into company culture, social media serves as a critical customer care channel.

Failing to respond to customer inquiries or negative experiences quickly can result in reputational damage and loss of potential customers. Remember, your business is under the pump - but so are your customers!

"Maintaining an active and responsive presence on social media helps businesses provide effective service and address customer needs promptly" (Sprout). In other words, content shouldn't be your only social media focus in a recession – use social to chat with your customers directly so they feel seen and heard.  

Build a Community and Nurture It:  

When you see a lost dog at your local park, what's the first place you visit on your phone? The pound, the police? For most people, their local community Facebook page is the perfect place to locate this lost pup's home.  

Closed communities have gained popularity in recent years as people seek more intimate online destinations. Leverage this trend by using social media as a multi-way communication tool, encouraging conversations in comments, and engaging with accounts of all sizes.

Building a community around your brand adds value to the audience's experience and helps maintain brand visibility in crowded social media feeds (Sprout).

While this may be time-consuming, groups are not monetised, so it's a great way to get organic social engagement without chewing up your ad budget.

You Won't Be Able To Do It All:

When budgets tighten, so does your ability to play on social.

Focus on your strengths: what in social has worked well for you? Which channels do your community live on, and which ones leave you with crickets? Don't spread yourself thin trying to do it all with pennies in your pocket. Prioritise what will work for you and skip out on that stuff that's a time waster.

Social: Your Most Valuable Marketing Asset

Social media will be your most valuable marketing asset during economic downturns.

Through careful allocation of resources, thoughtful messaging, and community-building, you can drive successful social media marketing campaigns - even during a recession.

Need a helping hand with social media? Chat with us at Matter, a specialist social media and content marketing agency.

Written by Maggie Bochat, Social & Digital Marketer at Matter.