Welcome to week 5 of the Pandemic. Everyone’s situation is slightly different and the challenges that face each individual or business are completely different from one another. Business owners are faced with the reality and hard facts that this will go on for several months. What can we do to survive now and thrive later?
I had a client ask me if it was insensitive to boost a post and promote an initiative they have created to support the community. Should you promote your sale or not? Is it insensitive?
There’s no denying that these are tough times. When times are tough, it’s really common for brands to struggle with what to say, particularly on social media. Do you stick with your old messaging and pretend it’s still business as usual? (Hint: no). Do you commit your feed to only COVID-19 related posts from now on? (Hint: probably not). It’s not about you. It’s about your ideal customer, what do they want or need?
What content are they looking for? One way to answer this question is to listen to what your audience is asking you, or asking others, during video chats or virtual classes. What are their concerns and how can they find the quick answers to this. You need to find out what your customer is thinking and feeling now.
Below are 5 tips for communicating on social media during a crisis.
Communication Tip 1
Listen and Acknowledge
It feels weird to promote a sale right now, some businesses downright have to do it. They explain that they have kept their staff employed and haven’t cut wages and as such are promoting a sale that will help them keep the business alive. Shop local whenever possible to support your local businesses, they will be the same businesses to sponsor your daughters’ soccer team when the economy rebounds.
Start asking questions. Try to understand the position that each individual is in. Marketers don’t need to rebuild strategies from scratch. Even seemingly simple pivots (ie. extending a free trial) can have an enormous impact. Also, don’t be afraid to welcome new customers on a free or discounted basis during a crisis. When the dust settles, they’ll remember the brand’s goodwill and may be more likely to convert in the future.
Communication Tip 2
Facebook saw a 70% increase in usage of all of its apps in the month of March. This is not the time to be quiet, this is the time to communicate and communicate often. No one is an expert on how to market your business through a global pandemic, but we can give you a few tips. As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to wreak havoc across the globe, people’s time that would have otherwise been spent shopping or going to events is now being spent in their homes.
Step up social media activities during a crisis. It’s the most effective way to connect directly and quickly with customers today. Make sure to use social media to demonstrate how the brand is committed to and aligned with its brand promise. After all, brand consistency can boost revenue by 23%.
- Post on Instagram Stories every day, people are spending 40% more time on Instagram. It’s a great time to run an influencer campaign. Read our blog about influencer marketing during COVID-19.
- Connect your online store to shoppable posts. [link to the blog that mentions shoppable posts]
- Share user-generated content.
- Don’t stop trying to sell, but use your captions to provide context, educate and communicate gratitude.
- Use video – video consumption is up! [link to video strategy blog post]
- It cultivates confidence in your business. Consistent branding commands authority while building trust and familiarity between you and your customers. People return to the businesses they recognize and love because they’re reassured by that company’s authority and position in their industry.
- It amplifies and strengthens your message. Consistent branding conveys the quality of your offerings, your company culture, and it communicates a message that impacts the outward perception of your company.
- It promotes customer loyalty. New and returning customers are influenced by the conversation and reputation that’s maintained by a brand. Consumers come to know who you are and will return and even recommend your products when you establish a presence that is dependable and stable.
- But remember… Maintenance is key. If not managed properly, even the best brands can fall apart. Ensuring that your marketing materials and every touchpoint of your brand feature the same logo, slogans, fonts, voice and colour scheme will ensure that your brand remains recognizable and trustworthy.
Communication Tip 3
You shouldn’t mention COVID-19 explicitly in all your content but do take into consideration the tone of your captions and how they could be interpreted by those who face a different reality than you are in. Remember that it’s important to be authentic in all your communications and now is no exception. Lean on your community if needed, share your story and be vulnerable, you’ll be amazed at how it might increase your engagement rates.
Crushing it during a crisis will involve getting real with customers, and sometimes leaving the usual marketing tactics behind. During times of vulnerability, customers want to hear from the real people behind the brands. This can create a richer, more memorable brand experience that will last even after the crisis has passed. Read and reread your posts to ensure the tone matches your communities perspective on the current situation. As this is changing day by day, we don’t suggest creating more than a week’s worth of content at a time.Facebook Small Business Grants Program – Companies operating in regions where Facebook operates that have been in business for at least a year and have between two and 50 employees can apply to receive grants from Facebook’s $100 million funds.
Communication Tip 4
Share Knowledge Without Expectations
This ties into your business position in the future. If you can position yourself as an industry leader right now and increase your reach and brand awareness – do it. Give away those tips and tricks for free.
Stay on the platform. Even more, try to provide those tips and tricks right in the social media platform. If using your social media posts like bread crumbs that you leave around to bring people back to your website is your old method, now try giving away those tips and tricks right in the post itself. It’s like distilling the main points of the blog into one helpful post.If your business is closed now is the time to revisit those processes that might need refining, conduct a brand audit and ensure your brand is being clearly communicated as you intended. See above and follow the brand consistency guidelines.
Communication Tip 5
Plans are out the window. Dreams and goals are on hold. And it’s impossible to make new plans right now, we need to adapt and pivot and plan for the future. A flexible business creates a space for out-of-the-box thinking that will help it thrive during a crisis. When this is combined with a true understanding of your customers’ mindset it can bring exceptional results.
While ROI may have been the only metric that business owners were watching before. ROI looks different now. ROI is important, but engagement metrics like clicks, likes, shares, comments, etc. are better gauges right now while people may not be as willing to buy. The ultimate goal right now is to build and maintain mutually beneficial relationships with new and current customers. People may not be in the right position or mood to buy right now (depending on your product), but they will be again eventually. Put yourself in the position to be their first stop as soon as they are able to open their wallets and buying behaviour gets back to normal.