“Ugh, not another COVID-19 post.” Over the past month or so, we've been saturated with blog posts, email updates, website banners on how businesses are handling this crisis. Some of it holds meaning. Some of it comes off as lip service lacking empathy.
As important as these kinds of posts are (when done right), people want to see what businesses are actually doing to navigate these trying times. And what’s more, people want to know what they can do to help out as well.
People worldwide have already taken initiative by applauding healthcare workers at 7 P.M. each night. From New York and Seattle to London and Siena, essential employees switching work shifts at hospitals have received an outpouring of support from the communities they serve. Something as simple as applause and encouragement can turn into a global movement of appreciation.
Some companies on the front lines have also decided to show their support for workers in inspiring ways.
One business empowering the community to do good is UPS. In this post, I’ll talk about how UPS encourages people to share their acts of kindness with the world to support delivery drivers. Specifically, letting people create freely and forgetting about competition are what set this campaign apart.
How UPS Uses Social Media To Make Emotional Connections
Now, more than ever, we need human connection. With social distancing impacting our lives so profoundly, people feel the absence of genuine relationships with others.
Theoretically, social media should fill this physical void. But with superficial communication, spam, and fake news, social media has lost some of its value.
UPS has been able to cut through the noise by creating a social media campaign rooted in empathy. Dubbed #ThanksForDelivering, the campaign encourages people to capture their moments of appreciation for delivery drivers — essential employees risking their lives to get us the packages we need.
The outpouring of support has been absolutely inspiring.
From handwritten thank-you notes to care packages including snacks and PPE, people across the country have shown love to delivery drivers. People that had been complete strangers otherwise are now bonding over moments of kindness.
The reason why this campaign has worked so well? UPS encouraged regular people to create. Instead of using scripted endorsements from celebrities and influencers, UPS kept #ThanksForDelivering as reliable as possible.
UPS could have just written a press release and called it a day. Instead, it used the power of social media to unite the community in appreciating everyday heroes. By sharing empathy through heart-warming photos, UPS brings out the best in humanity and allows us to form meaningful emotional bonds when we need them most.
UPS Ignores Brand Competition for a Greater Cause
The #ThanksForDelivering campaign is a UPS initiative. But you don’t see UPS telling people to thank only UPS drivers and ignore Amazon or FedEx drivers. This whole campaign aims to mobilize public support for essential workers, and in that spirit, UPS lets go of fighting competitors.
Many of the campaign submissions thank delivery drivers in general. Some thank essential workers like doctors, nurses, firemen, teachers, and more. UPS could have put strict requirements on submissions to make sure posts only promoted its brand, but that would be ridiculous. This campaign is not about UPS — it's about the brave people that have been working to keep our lives going.
By extending #ThanksForDelivering to drivers from all companies, UPS shows class. And by letting the community decide how it wants to appreciate essential workers, UPS shows empathy. Instead of controlling the narrative from a corporate newsroom, UPS allows human connections to shape the narrative.
My family's #ThanksForDelivering messages
My wife Yukari and I wanted to be a part of the #ThanksForDelivering movement too. So we got a slice from a tree that I had saved after it had been cut down on our property about 5 years before and Yukari painted a big red heart on it.
Side note. No I am not a hoarder. Just because I keep parts of trees that are cut down and keep lots of other very important stuff (some would say junk) doesn't make me a hoarder right? Maybe I'm a prepper? Anyway, the slice of the tree proved useful!
Anyway, the heart on the tree slice is visible from the road and looks amazing. We also made a small sign on the door that read "thanks for making us safe."
We prepared a small care packages for the UPS, FedEx, and Amazon drivers who serve our home and left them in front of the tree slice. The package for the mail carrier went in the mailbox.
What You Can Learn From #ThanksForDelivering
The amazing social media posts from #ThanksForDelivering have been much-welcomed positivity — they certainly brightened my day.
So what can I do to help? And how can I apply this campaign to my business?
First off, you can thank all the essential workers out there. Whether it's writing a note to your delivery person, sending a care package to medical workers, or getting take-out from a local restaurant (and leaving a nice tip), we can all do something to help out.
Next, see how you can unite your customers, employees, and/or partners into a community. By uniting around social media appreciation posts, UPS connected thousands of people from across the country in a common goal.
For you, this could be using a Facebook or Slack group to give customers a forum for sharing fun work-from-home stories. Or having weekly employee bondings over Zoom. Or this could be organizing a fundraising competition with business partners or even competitors to benefit essential workers.
Whatever you do, make sure you give people the ability to form meaningful relationships. Genuine human connection will help us all get through this situation, and even if it's through online communications, we can still do our best to stay authentic and empathetic.
How You Can Get Through These Uncertain Times
I'm not insulated from the impact of COVID-19 on the business world. I've had to adjust my business strategy as most in-person event has been cancelled or postponed. I'm working through this situation, and I want to help you work through it, too.
I've been working with businesses to navigate through these difficult times. Through Project [Live] Fanocracy, you can book one-on-one Zoom sessions with me to see how you can empathize with customers and build a loyal following of fans. All proceeds after covering out-of-pocket costs will go to the Boston Medical Center Relief Fund.