Empathy and contribution: how a social media agency finds creative strategies to reach an audience and support local

  • 5 Minutes
If & When has shifted their focus from elevating their own brand to finding innovative solutions for clients and encouraging followers to support local.

This post is part of our COVID–19 business stories series, where we share how different brands have responded to the pandemic.

If & When is an all encompassing social media agency dedicated to client growth providing; photographers, marketing strategists, writers and editors.

We spoke with Killian Pham – Managing Director, ‘Storyteller in Chief’ – to see how they are helping clients find creative strategies to reach their audience and encouraging their own followers to support local. 

Source: If & When

How has your company been affected by COVID-19? In what ways have you had to change your day-to-day business operations?  

Like many businesses, If & When had to implement a number of reactionary strategies in the wake of the enhanced government restrictions. While it was not mandatory in Sydney that staff work from home, we encouraged all our members who felt uncomfortable working in an office environment to begin working from home.

As you can imagine, meetings began taking place over Zoom and physical production of content became more like a one-person show, like something I would have done in my freelancing years, some 10 years ago.

We found it very obvious that culture had to survive even though verbal communication and everyday banter began to drop. It was a struggle indeed to cultivate a social drive amongst team members, and it definitely has been difficult to gauge how effective these social initiatives have been, i.e funny backdrop or hat day on zoom. 

Finally, it has been quite demotivating to see so many businesses across so many industries be affected by this lockdown and the panic of this virus. Once-thriving restaurants and travel industries that had big and collective ambitions of a stronger, more cultural, and mission-driven agenda were brought down to a ‘survival’ mentality.

It is incredibly difficult for the management to inform some of our managers that businesses they worked with for so many years are now closed. 

But we take it a day at a time. We’re getting quite used to this new normal within our team. As long as we can still get the job done and still share a virtual laugh within a typical workday, we’re good.

How are you strategizing your brand messaging at the moment? 

Empathy and contribution. Instead of focusing on how we can elevate our brand, we’re now focusing on how we can get as many people in the community to support local businesses.

We understand the struggles many local businesses are suddenly facing, and we help them find solutions to these struggles—or at the very least, help them weather these struggles.

Are you changing how you market your business, or selling new products or services to meet changing market needs?

The red ocean—the ‘what do I do, where can you buy’ strategy—has now taken a backseat somewhat. That being said, our whole business has always been based on big business service at small business prices.

Whether we are changing the way we market our services entirely in the wake of COVID-19? Not really. If & When started with one pivotal question: ‘What would you, an individual with ordinary personal everyday expenses like a mortgage or car insurance, be willing to pay for a service?’

Hence, starting with the low price and working backwards at making that price marketable was always our goal. And because of this, for many businesses looking to promote newly desirable products or businesses that never considered social media marketing until now, our services are a great gateway into the world of social media marketing.

What trends are you seeing in your industry? Are there other brands you admire for what they’re posting right now? 

The biggest trends I’m seeing at the moment is a focus on animation and desktop content. While mobile-formatted content was huge in the last calendar year, with more people working from home, the amount of time spent on desktop screens has increased. This means that vertical viewing and the love for 4:5 and 9:16 format is not as sought after as it used to be.

As for the increased attention towards animation, accounts like @thechrisdo have begun garnering huge amounts of attention. The level of shock and attention-grabbing content featuring large text, striking colours, and intense copywriting is reminiscent of early 2010s marketing strategies.

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A post shared by Chris Do (@thechrisdo) on

Scroll stopping content, motivational call-to-actions, and often deeply masculine images have also resurged in the light of COVID-19.

How far ahead are you planning your customer communications right now?

Right now, customer communication is quite frequent. A monthly check in to see whether there are new menus, delivery options, new products, and anything worth mentioning is our prerogative.

We know that things are changing at an unprecedented pace right now, and the small business owners we cater to feel this uncertainty quite strongly. In these uncertain times, we want to let them know that they can continue to count on us to help them get their message across.

Follow If & When on Instagram and @killianpham to see their creative initiatives and help support local.

Photo of Kyra GoodmanKyra Goodman

Kyra is a Junior Marketing Manager and "Spicy Meme Master" at Sked Social who loves to create content. Born and raised in Hawaii, her favorite things are traveling, yoga, beaching, coffee and baseball. Connect with her on twitter at @kyra_n_goodman.

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