No matter where you are located, the coronavirus situation is having a huge impact on your business. The current situation is interesting as well as challenging if you are active on social media. On the one hand, you literally have a captive audience as people are spending most of their time at home and, therefore, online. On the other hand, your customers are experiencing challenges of their own, both psychological and economic. How do you balance all of these factors when it comes to your social media strategy?
Just about every business has been affected by the current situation. Brick and mortar businesses have forced to close their doors, change their hours or, at the very least, make drastic changes to the way they do business. In many stores, for example, only a certain number of people can enter at a time. Share information about such changes as quickly as possible so your customers know what to expect.
Update the latest information on your website and on Google My Business. Google has created a special COVID19 section to update customers. You don’t want to provide outdated or misleading information about your hours or current policies. It’s also important to provide clear instructions for how customers can contact you during this period. If you have a brick and mortar business that’s closed for now, place a sign on your door that includes your business phone number as well as URLs for your website and social media pages.
Look for Ways to Help
Consider the needs of your audience during this period and think of ways you might be able to help, even in small ways.
- Post useful links, especially regarding local news that might not be widely available on other sites and pages. Many people depend on social media for news and important information as well as for entertainment and socializing.
- When possible, offer discounts or special consideration for the most vulnerable such as the elderly, people who have lost their jobs, or those who are sick. For example, food-related businesses may be able to donate to local charities who serve the needy.
- Offer information that your customers need. Many businesses are not able to operate as usual, which is painful for both you and your customers. While your first concern may naturally be the loss of sales, don’t forget to think about it from your customers’ perspective. If people can’t come to your salon right now, offer home beauty tips. If your gym is closed, suggest exercises members can do at home. Aside from providing a service, this approach keeps you relevant in your customers’ minds when they aren’t seeing you.
Create More Content Than Usual
Your customers, like everyone else, are stuck at home for most of the day. This means they will almost certainly be spending more time online. Now is the perfect time to create more social media content such as Stories, videos, and podcasts. Use the same criteria already discussed, such as sharing helpful information, offering alternatives to in-store or in-office products and services. However, it’s also worth considering ways to engage with customers who are probably facing a variety of feelings such as anxiety, boredom and confusion.
Many people are seeking entertainment and simply a way to interact, so they feel less isolated. Interactive events such as Google Hangouts, webinars, and online performances can provide welcome distractions. Online courses are another possibility. In some cases, you may need to research new platforms to deliver the best content. For example, if you want to organize an online performance, Stageit allows you to schedule events and collect payments. It also allows for flexible payments where attendees can pay as little as 10 cents while being able to leave virtual tips, similar to Uber and Lyft. On the other hand, you can offer free content using familiar sites such as YouTube or Facebook Live.
Keep Your Employees in the Loop
When communicating on social media, you need to remember your employees as well as your customers. If employees are compelled to stay home, they will appreciate being able to access the latest information. Naturally, for important communications, it is best to speak directly to employees by phone or email. However, a Facebook Page or updates on your feed can help to keep everyone informed as well.
If your business doesn’t have an active channel such as a Facebook group, this is a good time to start one. Such a forum can be comforting and gives everyone a place to stay in touch. If you already have this type of channel, encourage your employees to use it more.
Be Sensitive About Exploiting a Crisis
Even during the best of times, an overly aggressive marketing approach can rub customers the wrong way. This is even more true during a crisis. Even if it’s not your intention, you have to make sure you don’t come across as trying to profit from misfortune. There is no need to tie everything with the current situation as everyone is all too aware of what’s happening.
It’s fine to create special promotions but you don’t have to call it a “COVID19 Special.” If you’re promoting something that might be especially useful for people staying home, there’s no need to emphasize this point too much. For example, home exercise equipment is quite popular right now. You can discuss the benefits of such items without reminding your customers that they can’t go to the gym right now, which they know all too well. The wording you use can make a big difference in how your message comes across.
Think Long Term with Your Social Media Strategy
Social media has become an important aspect of how we talk to each other. The current crisis will pass but the way you interact with your customers now may have a lasting impact. While you want to focus on what people need right now, you also need to consider the long term. Even if your sales are slow for a while, fostering relationships is a good way to attract loyal customers when things return to normal. There is no reason to change your core values. However, make sure you consider the particular needs of your customers and see what you can do to make things a little easier for them.