8 Ways Businesses Should Use Social Media During a Crisis Like the COVID-19 Pandemic
Social distancing has become our new normal.
Instead of our regular physical contact with friends, family, and the community, people are interacting more frequently on social media.
We don’t have much of a choice right now.
And, despite the COVID-19 pandemic being an extremely strange and unprecedented time in most of our lives, these are times of crisis that we must navigate through.
Business owners, operators, and marketers must understand the importance of communicating with their audience during these times no matter how dire a situation may be, albeit at the proper time and with the proper tone.
Social Media During the Age of COVID-19
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram interactions have become the new way of life rather than face-to-face thanks to this COVID-19 novel coronavirus outbreak.
Non-essential businesses are closed in many areas of the United States, lending itself to a new way of doing business.
Even businesses deemed essential are having to come up with new ways to make sales. Restaurants are takeout and delivery only. Grocery stores have changed operating hours and set maximum-customer caps at any given time. Auto dealers have been forced into an appointment-only mode for sales, and service is operating with increased safety measures at regular or reduced hours.
The list goes on.
Having to temporarily close brick-and-mortar stores is a new reality for many business owners, many of which are finding it difficult to adjust their marketing strategy.
But it’s vital to reevaluate your marketing strategies at this time and embrace the changes.
1. Be Honest & Build Relationships with Compassion
Customers have heightened anxiety, and marketing with a business-as-usual tone can risk coming across as tone deaf.
It’s important to openly address COVID-19, how it is affecting all of us, and show how your business is adapting.
Although you can’t interact with your customers in-person for the time being, you can form relationships with them through social media. People are looking to the Internet to provide them with social interaction, giving brands a unique opportunity to talk to consumers.
Take the time to tell your audience what it needs to hear.
This opportunity gives brands the ability to make an impact with customers and potential customers.
Don’t waste it.
2. Update Your Facebook Business Page to Reflect COVID-19 Changes
Facebook allows you to reach customers you’ve already formed a relationship with.
And, in the age of COVID-19, the platform allows you to develop new relationships.
Since most of us must stay home, we’re spending more time on Facebook. And these uncertain times leave us craving good news.
Share news that is relevant to your business and consider using your business to support people in local communities that are on the front lines.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Can you supply food or other supplies to hospitals?
- Can you donate to relief organizations?
Boosting your local community will go far in creating positive brand awareness with consumers. When this is over, they will remember the organizations that stepped up during the crisis.
Consumers on Facebook are informed about how this pandemic is economically damaging local businesses, and they want to help.
Use your Facebook Business Page to tell them exactly how to do this.
If your restaurant is offering takeout and delivery, promote this on your page and consider using paid posts to promote your business to your target demographics. Consumers can also use this as a way to order food for medical professionals who might not have time for a break during their day.
If the hours of operation have changed or the business is temporarily closed, adjust your Facebook Business Page to reflect this. And be sure to do the same on your website and Google My Business!
You can pin an important post to the top of the page, so use this to post about how your business is adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Post about how you are taking extra steps to keep your employees and customers safe.
If you have the capability to offer curbside order pickup or touch-free delivery, make sure to emphasize this. Customers still want to shop; they just want to feel safe while doing so.
For brick-and-mortar stores, now is the time to start using Facebook to sell products. Although it may not be the way you’re used to doing business, Facebook has a Shop tab where you can sell products.
For more information about how you can optimize your business Facebook page, Facebook is offering free tools to help businesses manage this crisis.
3. Update Google My Business & Utilize Local Posts
Google My Business isn’t your traditional form of social media, but its hybrid approach to communicating with customers is a combination of social media strengths and information search that makes up-to-date information easier to obtain now than ever before.
Use it to your advantage and make sure the messaging is appropriate for the channel.
It’s not quite Facebook and it’s definitely not Twitter or even LinkedIn, but there is a right message and tone for those that find the business through Google Search.
4. Use Your Expertise to Teach Your Instagram Followers
Instagram has become even more engaging during the COVID-19 crisis.
It’s become a way for people to spread news, participate in Instagram challenges, and even do live videos for their followers.
Businesses can use Instagram in several different ways. Its interactive features make Instagram an ideal platform to optimize, because these features will engage current and future customers.
It’s important to continue posting on a regular basis, and in some cases, post more. Adjust your posting strategy to connect with people who are stuck home searching for a positive outlet.
Analyze what your business specializes in and strategize to reflect this.
For example, clothing retailers can adjust their copy and photos to reflect at-home fashion. Post photos of comfortable clothes perfect for working from home, and clothes to wear for home date nights. People are looking for wellness tips and ways to stay active while gyms and fitness centers across the country are closed. Offer tips related to your business such as cleaning tips, fitness tips, ways to stay active and anything else your brand can offer an expert opinion on.
Teaching your followers tips and tricks that relate to your industry gives your brand a sense of authority and creates trust with consumers.
Focus on shifting your tone to reflect that your business genuinely cares about your customers’ wellbeing.
Anything that seems like an organization is trying to profit off a pandemic will be met with negativity, so be mindful and honest with your followers.
Instagram users are frequently sharing Instagram story challenges. These can range from doing push-ups on camera to sharing your favorite types of food, and everything in between. Create a branded Instagram story template and invite your followers to fill it out and share with their friends.
With screen time increasing for many of us, it’s inevitable that social media time will increase too.
Stay positive, continue engaging, and take advantage of having the audience’s full attention.
The trust you form now will lead to consumers remembering the way your business handled this pandemic and will influence their purchasing decisions when this is over.
5. Lead by Example on Twitter & Promote Positivity
Twitter is a constant stream of COVID-19 related tweets from news, to memes, to political commentary.
As of April, a COVID-19-related tweet is published every 45 milliseconds, and #Coronavirus is the second most used hashtag of 2020.
Twitter, with its short snippets of information, has been a tool for brands to put out crisis communications and communicate with employees, customers, and the community.
It’s not necessarily the right place to market products during this time, but it is the right place to think about what your customers need and provide some necessary information.
Consider the role your business plays in the lives of its customers and how COVID-19 has changed this. Look for opportunities to pay it forward and lead by example.
Doing the right thing for your employees and communities has never been so important. As business owners, you have the chance to share all the steps you’re taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and Twitter is the perfect place to do so.
Don’t be afraid to post some positive, light-hearted posts if that’s in line with your brand’s usual tone.
Some brands, like hospitality/tourism brands and financial institutions are more affected by the COVID-19 crisis than others. If your business is directly affected by this pandemic, use Twitter to provide fast, reliable, and empathetic customer service and support.
6. Use LinkedIn to Contribute to the Professional Conversation
LinkedIn, as a social media platform built for the professional world, can still give your brand can a voice during this time.
Sharing on LinkedIn has increased since social distancing has been introduced to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
No matter what industry your business is in, you can offer your expertise and contribute to the conversation. Talk about the trials and tribulations of remote working, video conferencing, and staying connected to your employees and coworkers.
This is unfamiliar territory for a lot of businesses. Sharing your experience can add to the conversation.
Brand experiences do well on LinkedIn and can help others who are struggling with the transition from working in-person to working remotely.
Ask yourself what tips and tricks have helped you be most productive and write a post about that.
As a business owner, you are a subject matter expert about your business and how COVID-19 has affected it. If you have implemented new processes and programs to keep your employees and customers safe, share it on LinkedIn to inspire other brands to follow your lead.
On LinkedIn, it’s important to be honest about how your business is handling the COVID-19 crisis and share relevant, timely articles that are in line with your brand.
7. Prioritize People over Profit
It’s important to make connections on social media while everyone is more isolated than they ever have been.
Businesses can connect with their customers through social media since they have a captive audience who is eager to read and watch content created by their favorite brands.
Use this to your advantage by tailoring your content to fit the needs of your customers. Create thoughtful content that shows the business is not operating business-as-usual, and that you are taking serious steps to ensure the safety of your employees and customers.
This pandemic won’t last forever, but the customers you impress during this time will.
8. Think It Through but Keep it Simple
Remember what’s important here.
If we have something people need, and they’re looking for it, we want to make that as easy as possible for them in a time of crisis.
We’ll do that by communicating.
It’s also worth communicating closures, changes, and any other general news as it pertains to customers and the local environment. The people living through it with you will appreciate it.
We’re all in this together.