Adapt Paid Social Strategy During COVID-19

by Emma Huschka

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I’m Emma Huschka, the Director of Paid Social at Logistical Position. I’ll teach you how to pivot your paid social strategy with Facebook and Instagram based on the newest trends in response to COVID-19. We need to make shifts when it comes to paid social strategy during COVID-19 for this quick-moving, dynamic situation.

Today’s Agenda:

  • Paid social media trends during COVID-19
  • How to engage with your audience
  • Facebook resources for your business
  • CPM costs were extremely low through the month of March and early April
  • Starting to see prospecting prices level out and increase back up to regular averages
  • According to Social Media Today, daily Facebook active users increased this quarter by 77 million, the biggest increase since 2011
  • Close to reaching three billion total users across one family of apps: Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp
  • Due to the pandemic, many advertisers are pausing their advertising efforts, which is the time to be running your ads

Now is the time to utilize paid social

In the beginning, when COVID-19 first hit, we saw CPM emerge as a trend. Cost per 1,000 impressions on Facebook and Instagram were low through the beginning of March and most of April. Those costs have recently returned to regular levels. I think what we saw in the beginning was a lot of businesses in that moment of panic asking, "What do we need to do immediately to support our business?"

A lot of businesses paused their advertising during COVID-19, causing the prices of ad space to drop, which was exciting for clients who pushed during that time. We got a lot of really good cost per 1,000 impressions during that time, which is important as user bases increase.

User bases are increasing

Right now, a lot of people are at home. According to Social Media Today, daily Facebook active users increased this quarter by 77 million, which is the biggest increase since 2011.

Not only were these platforms huge before the pandemic, but now with more time at home and more time to spend on mobile devices during the pandemic, users are shifting to spend more time on mobile and social media. Facebook's constantly growing, and the user base has grown as well. Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp are on the rise. As of last month, the family of Facebook apps is close to reaching three billion users.

As I mentioned before, a lot of advertisers paused their advertising in the beginning. However, it's even more important now to make sure your customers are hearing from you. It’s a time to focus on raising brand awareness and think about how you can be there for future customers.

People are getting back into advertising, and it's a really good time to raise brand awareness. We saw a lot of opportunities to raise brand awareness and get in front of new customers for a lower price recently, because a lot of advertisers were pulling away from social. Now is a huge time to be prospecting for new clients by engaging with them creatively.

How to engage with your audience:

  • Practice empathy
  • Relate to your customers
  • Show support
  • Prospect for future customers
  • Think outside the box

Practice empathy

Make sure you have the right messaging. Connect with your customers in an appropriate way during what is an uncertain and difficult time for a lot of people. Practice empathy and ensure you're acknowledging what's happening right now.

Acknowledge what you can do for your customer during this time. Acknowledge what they're going through. A lot of people are either out of work or are facing other struggles. Maybe they have kids at home and are trying to be a teacher. Maybe they’re working from home. There are a lot of new challenges, and recognizing that is huge.

Do it in a way that's appropriate for your brand. Obviously, that's going to change depending on what industry you're in, but being empathetic and unafraid to acknowledge hardship is vital, as is making sure you're doing it in an appropriate way for your brand.

Relate to your customers

As I mentioned, it’s important to relate to your customers and understand how you can provide value. How you provided value three months ago is going to look very different from how you provide value today, because so many people are in a different position than they were a few months ago.

Think outside the box on how you can be there for your customer, and who your customer is. Put yourself in their shoes by considering what problems are they running into now that they weren't before. Connect to them through this change. People are looking for things to do that are safe while practicing social distancing. We’ll get into a few examples of ways to do this shortly.

Show support

Show support for your employees and your customers any way possible. Tell us how you're supporting your employees. Messaging about how you're supporting your employees is important.

Good news is really great right now. If you're a service, ensure that people can come into the store, especially with reopening happening right now. Make it clear that you're doing all the right things to follow the governor's orders, practice social distancing, and care about your customers’ safety and health. Have empathy in how you relate.

Prospect for future customers

Right now is a big opportunity to prospect for future customers. In the beginning, we saw the little dip in e-commerce pick back up. It picked back up as people received stimulus checks. It’s a really good time to get in front of customers that could purchase from you or use your services in the months to come as things get back to normal. With brand awareness at an all time high and affordable CRM costs (which are now closer to average), it’s a really good time to use some of these tips and show value you can provide to the customer during this time.

Think outside the box

Even as things start to get back to normal, it's still not what we knew as normal before. Get your messaging out now. When customers are looking for your service or product in a few months, you will be front of mind.

Personally, I do yoga classes, and a lot of yoga studios are streaming online classes. Dinnerware brands are streaming cooking shows. Engage with your customers in a way that may be a little different during this time. They can't actually come in to shop, so tie back to how you can provide value.

You might be an eCommerce brand that typically sells shoes. Think outside the box on how you can make this more engaging to your customers knowing that a lot of them are stuck at home, dealing with new challenges. Anything that you can do to entertain and be there for your customer will mean gaining a customer or getting a purchase during this time.

Facebook Resources

Facebook moves really quickly and releases all sorts of new tools. The first thing is Facebook Business Resource Hub. This is among the many tools Facebook has created for small to medium sized businesses. Business Resource Hub has links, articles, and resources that walk a business owner through creating advertisements and other relevant tools.

Facebook has made industry specific guides for the different tools available. They also gave away a hundred million dollars in grant programs to already selected SMBs. They moved quickly to give out either cash or advertising dollars because businesses needed this help right now. This grant helped businesses either keep employees employed or helped move the business forward. Cheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook, announced they're planning on doing more of this. They have been trying to give back in a lot of different ways.

How to streamline gift card purchases

Facebook has a few relatively new tools. Some of these have been available, but haven't been promoted as much since it's not been as relevant to businesses. They have a gift card feature on both Facebook and Instagram that you can set up to allow your customers to purchase gift cards from you. Information on the Business Resource Hub shows how to set that up. Birthdays, graduations, and other events are happening right now. People are still celebrating occasions, and it's a lot harder to physically give someone a gift.

Gift cards are a great option. People are looking to support businesses that they love, even if they can't physically go to that location. Provide something for your customers to support you. People have been doing all sorts of fun things with games and are holding virtual meetings. Anything built to relate right now is going to connect with someone and be a really good opportunity to gain a new customer and hopefully, a lifetime customer.

Why IG stickers will boost business

On Instagram, there's little stickers that go over an image or a video. Facebook has created stickers that allow you to quickly click to go to online order. I've seen a lot of restaurants in the Portland area that have made really cool videos of the kitchen or the chef talking about what they’re going through. They provide the sticker allowing you to order directly through Instagram.


If you're familiar with Facebook Blueprint, it's Facebook's proprietary education tool. This is a great resource if you're new to Facebook advertising. Even if you're not as new, we use them internally for some of our training. They've released new Blueprint courses recently. There is a fee associated with getting the certificate, but there are a lot of free courses with videos and how-to's of a lot of different ways to learn about Facebook advertising. They've even created new Blueprint courses about how to respond during COVID.

How native ecommerce will look going forward

Facebook Shops are going to be on both Instagram and Facebook. It's a revamped version of what already existed of Facebook shopping. They're tying together a lot of really cool features that Facebook and Instagram have been dabbling around with. Putting it into one spot makes e-commerce easier for Facebook and Instagram. It's going to be a marketplace on your Facebook page or on your Instagram that makes shopping natively in the platform easy.

We're a Facebook premier partner, so I had some conversations with our partner manager. It sounds like as we go through this summer, they're going to continue to develop this tool and tie in some of the different features that they've been testing such as ID checkout and product tagging on Instagram. Those already using Shops will be the first people with access to these tools. From what I've heard, not a lot of people have access to both Facebook and Instagram Shops right now. A lot more branding is involved to expand accesses.

We absolutely have seen eCommerce businesses start to thrive right now. A lot of people are shopping online. Paid social is still continuing to move along. Now is a good opportunity to connect with your customer and be there for them and hopefully, have a lifelong customer.


1. Are you aware of anyone that has received the Facebook or Google ad grants or credits? The timeline is pretty vague on the Google ads website.

Great question. I have heard of some brands. Not any, at least that I've heard directly of our customers, that have received that directly from Facebook. It was a lot of money, but in the grand scheme of things and how many advertisers there are, it was just a drop in the bucket.

I can't speak as much to the Google site. There was an application process.I haven't seen as much about who actually received that. There were announcements from Facebook that they plan on doing more. And again, they were transparent about the application process. I'm sure it's a little difficult right now to get a hold of some of that due to how many businesses there are. Hopefully, there'll be more resources soon, at least on the Facebook side.

2. I know you mentioned your yoga studio and some other businesses that have been adapting. Have you seen any brands on paid social that you think are doing a good job or you think are worth researching?

I also do barre, my Barre3. It's a bar studio that I typically go to in person. I've recently transitioned to doing that online and they've done an incredible job. They've had the founder of the company host free classes. Every Wednesday they stream a free class on Instagram Live.

Instagram Live is going to start allowing advertisements. That's something else to look forward to. I'm a big fan of Walmart, as cheesy as that is, which has done a really good job speaking to their customers right now. Nike has had a lot of good messaging out there. Some of these big brands just know how to handle these situations and move quickly.

I've been impressed with a lot of the alcohol brands. Drizly has done an amazing job. I don't know how many ads I've gotten since COVID, but I didn’t even know they existed before this. I assume they did, but I definitely have heard a lot more of them. They’ve done a great job taking the opportunity of people being stuck at home with more time to enjoy beverages and speaking their messaging in legal states to provide that value to the customer when they need it. Some of the larger beer brands have done similar types of messaging.

This is a really interesting time with summer. A lot of people are typically looking to take vacations with the time off. Calling it out, acknowledging that and filling that gap of planning is important. Some of these beverage brands are there when you're having a barbecue in the backyard with your family rather than out on the lake or in public. I think the ones that are really filling the gaps and acknowledging the situation and being empathetic are what I've personally connected with and where we've seen success with our advertisers.

3. I know you mentioned that Facebook’s daily active users have increased since we've all been at home more, but is there Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, or any other social platforms that you think are performing better for you than before? Do you have any perspective on that?

We really focus on Facebook and Instagram. We do a little with Twitter and we're looking into Pinterest. We are not exploring TikTok at this time. TikTok has definitely taken off right now. Coming from an agency perspective, I'm not seeing quite the value yet for advertising with our customer base. I definitely think that's a platform that's gained some popularity. I feel like I've been on LinkedIn a little bit more just to see what other industry leaders are saying about the environment. But like I said, we've had a lot of advertisers be really successful right now, particularly home brands. This is a really great time for people to explore those options.

We have seen a lot of customers be really successful right now on Facebook and Instagram. The way we run our ads, without getting into the technical portion, we allow Facebook's algorithm to make a lot of decisions. So whether one more than the other, I don't know if I could speak to that because with each brand it can really vary.

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