In pandemic times, marketers are turning to social networks

En temps de pandémie, les commerçants se tournent vers les réseaux sociaux

En temps de pandémie, les commerçants se tournent vers les réseaux sociaux

Mathilde Plante St-Arnaud, executive director of The Smith House

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May 26, 2020

Updated on may 27, 2020 at 9h06

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In pandemic times, marketers are turning to social networks

En temps de pandémie, les commerçants se tournent vers les réseaux sociaux

En temps de pandémie, les commerçants se tournent vers les réseaux sociaux

Myriam Boulianne

The Sun

“90 % of our advertising is placed by social networks,” notes the general director of the Smith House, Mathilde Plante St-Arnaud. When the containment has begun, it is she who has taken up the baton for the management of the accounts Facebook and Instagram of the company, because she “felt that it was happening there”. And it is not the only one.

“It was also our most direct contact with customers. Following their comments, we were able to adjust our offer quickly. It has been found that this direct link with our customers would be to keep it,” continues Ms. Plante St-Arnaud.

The Smith House was already for targeted advertising on Facebook, but the director-general said that they have increased their budget that was allocated. She has also noticed a significant increase in the responsiveness of the users : the number of publications shared, subscribers and “likes” has seen a sharp increase.

In addition to Facebook and Instagram, their Web site and their information on Google have been updated. It has also doubled the frequency of its e-newsletter.

Previously, the company engaged an external agency to take care of the social networks, but Ms. Plante St-Arnaud wants to, when the situation allows it, create a post with communications to the internal. “Having someone on the spot, it makes all the difference at the level of immediacy and responsiveness”, she remarks.

“I’m not very active on the social networks, but then I force myself”

If each year, Stephen Morin, co-owner of the bakery, Boule Miche, wanted to be more present on the social networks, the containment of the will have to. Before the pandemic, he published four to five times per year on the page Facebook of his trade. Since then, he made a publication per week. “There has been a very big increase in my hand”, he says.

“At the beginning, we informed our customer that we followed the instructions in order to avoid the displeasure of their hand. We have also updated our opening hours. Then, we tried to communicate with those who did not want to come out to tell them that we had a delivery system. Then, we made our product catalog available online and in-store.”

Following the wave of popularity unprecedented for the homemade bread at the beginning of the confinement, he remembers one of his publications with their selection of organic flour ground available at the counter, which has been shared several times.

For the future, he hopes to maintain a sustained presence on the social networks : “We should continue to publish at least once per week. It would help us to keep in touch with people who stay at home.”

Targeted advertising

Same sound of bell on the side of the restaurant, Tora-Ya Ramen, a few active on social networks before the pandemic. “Last year, we stayed for three or four months without a post and there was always traffic. In the current context, it would not happen. It is somehow condemned to have this desire to publish and be visible on social networks,” admits Frederic Gonzalo, marketing consultant by profession and ex-spouse of the owner of the restaurant, Miyano Sakai.

It has also invested in targeted advertising on Facebook, it was not previously. “Our publications have been very effective in the last few weeks, but if you invested a few pennies, you reach a larger audience,” he explains. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Mr. Gonzalo said to have spent a minimum amount of $ 5 per day on Facebook, with a few variations.

He has used the social networks to inform its clientele that the restaurant was closed and that there was now a system of delivery and take-out : “there has been a sustained effort on our part to pick up the business and to ensure that the people are calling.”

“An online strategy is necessary in the time of a pandemic. It is this that will determine which companies will be able to survive ”


Renato Hübner Barcelos, a professor in the department of marketing, University of Quebec at Montreal

Adapt to survive

“An online strategy is necessary in the time of a pandemic. It is this that will determine which companies will be able to survive,” says Renato Hübner Barcelos, a professor in the department of marketing, University of Quebec at Montreal. The increased use of social networks by the traders in these uncertain times is something that he describes as “natural, because they do not have the same opportunities to have direct contacts with the customers”.

According to Mr. Hübner Barcelos, if the traders are able to establish a relationship of commitment and to keep their customers interested, even in the time of a pandemic, “they will be advantaged when everything will return to normal. The situation requires businesses to be creative”, he recalls.

The professor adds that the online experience of the customer becomes increasingly viewed by marketers : “consumers expect to receive all the information on the Internet. If, in addition, they find that publications are clear, it puts more trust.”

In march 2020, the number of daily active users on Facebook amounted to $ 1.73 billion, on average, an increase of 11% compared to last year. The volume of data has increased on the social networks, the competition between the publications has intensified. Mr. Hübner Barcelos believes that this phenomenon encourage traders to increased investment, particularly with respect to targeted advertising.

“The companies that suffered the least losses today are those who were already prepared to offer the services of the most normal possible using the online means. In my opinion, it is a trend that we will keep even after the end of the pandemic. It is a lesson for businesses in general,” he concludes.

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