These are unprecedented times. The COVID-19 virus has turned our world upside down and things are changing rapidly. It’s hard to know what to do but one thing I know for sure is that everyone is feeling anxious – including your customers, clients and community. It’s definitely not business as usual. Now is a good time to reconsider your social media strategy.
The authorities have mandated social distancing and while it’s required in real life, it’s not required on social media.
In extraordinary times, social media can do magical things.
In fact, whether you’re a large brand, small business or solopreneur, if you lean on social media to build your business, you’re going to need to tap into that magic.
There’s also a chance that you’ve been using social media wrong.
You’ll see now and in the coming weeks some companies using content to help their customers navigate this new world of COVID-19. There are so many questions and not a lot of answers, but if you can help your customers in some way, you’ll be mitigating some of the challenges they’re experiencing. And that means a lot!
There are some companies that are taking it a step further – like Ford offering car payment assistance to those affected by the virus.
Reconsidering your social media strategy will force you to come up with new ways to help your customers and your community.
The move to trust content is crucial.
The pandemic will have impacts on every business and every person, without exception.
As your business is impacted by COVID-19, right now is a good time to get ahead of things with preparations, pivoting and revising your social media strategy.
What about traditional social media strategy content rules?
Review the content you’ve been publishing and come at it with a different goal: trust. The traditional social media strategy content rule remains: provide your audience with content that will:
This doesn’t always require a “sales angle” such as a link back to your website, special offer or sign up form. In fact, be selective about what you promote and instead, build trust. Ann Handley calls this approach, “slow down so you can speed up.” #SDSU
Slow down to build momentum for what truly matters long-term.
You, your clients and your community are being given the chance to slow down, reassess, reconsider and determine a different and perhaps better path forward. Ann says we can take this time to, “Interrupt the grind of the gears, focus efforts and challenge ourselves to act in the best interests of the next 10 years, not the next 10 months or 10 days or 10 minutes.”
The goal is to build a more solid foundation, a more sustainable and sane momentum.
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Ideas to shift your social media strategy to build trust during COVID-19
Re-examine your tone.
Have you been blasting one-way messages without much response? Time to stop that in general, but even more so now. Change to a more empathetic tone in your content.
Be open to trust-building tactics.
Discuss ideas with your team or social media manager about what you can do personally and/or what the business can do to support your community online and offline. We can and will get through this but it’s going to take specific, new tactics and we have to pull together to do it.
Re-think subject matter.
Everyone is or will be struggling with coronavirus-related issues. When you hear about something that will help people, publish a post, write a blog post or record a video letting people know about it.
Provide tips specifically related to your customer’s needs, especially as they relate to your business.
Pro Tip: Don’t publish any posts that make blatant marketing statements about the pandemic. Exploiting this will have a very negative affect on your brand and position in the community. You don’t want to look like you’re insensitive or taking advantage of this serious situation.
Show up consistently.
In this time of social distancing, take the chance to reconsider how you’ve been showing up. Have your profiles been vacant lately? Recommit to consistent participation on the platforms where your clients and community congregate. I like to say, “Show up to give, not get.” (a phrase I learned from Simon Sinek).
Choose a platform where you can go a little deeper…
In times of chaos and uncertainty, it can help you feel better to be more real, more authentic. I love the idea of a regular newsletter like Ann Handley’s. You can deepen your existing relationships and invite your social media followers who might be craving deeper connections too!
Be transparent and communicate regularly with customers.
COVID-19 is causing havoc and disruption in supply chains. People are looking for answers to the questions they have about what you sell and existing customers want to know you’re going to be there when they need you. Especially with mandated business closures and social distancing, people need to know the truth no matter what it is.
Let customers and prospects know:
- If your hours have changed.
- You have distributed hand sanitizer throughout your store.
- How the situation is affecting your business.
- Make sure these updates are communicated clearly on your social media, website and Google My Business page.
While the increase of problems or changes in delivery of goods and services is a very real occurrence, being upfront about those issues helps mitigate long-term damage to your brand/business. It’s okay to be the “bearer of bad news” as long as you’re truthful, forthright and willing to admit when you misspoke. This is true leadership!
Review your Google and Facebook ads.
If you’re business is changing its service model, such as if you’re a restaurant that’s no longer offering dine-in service and only take-out or delivery, make sure you don’t have any ads that encourage store visits.
FYI: Google and Facebook have denied any type of “coronavirus specials” ads…so now you know.
Pro Tip: Keep an eye on your Facebook and Instagram ads comments sections. No matter who you are or what you sell, you are more likely to get negative comments now just because there’s increased anxiety everywhere.
Here’s a great example of letting customers know about the changes to the service model and how they can still enjoy your products (in this case, delicious food!). This is an email I received tonight from Green Tomato Grill here in the OC:
Allow yourself some room to cope.
None of us is perfect so you’re going to need a daily practice to keep things in perspective. Yoga, meditation, walks in nature, hanging out with animals, volunteering are my “go-to’s”. Without some sort of coping mechanism, your business will suffer.
Make the commitment to yourself right now so the anxiety and panic around you doesn’t sink in.
Don’t be afraid to share your challenges with others. Keeping up a facade is exhausting and it’s okay to show your struggles because we all have them! I’ve also seen some of the greatest solutions to problems come from social media threads.
No matter what happens in the coming weeks and months, we know that it won’t last forever.
Revise your social media strategy now so that customers and prospects know you care and that you’ll still be here when restrictions are lifted.
Need help with social media? Get in touch with me here and I’ll get back to you within 24 hours.