With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have had to rapidly reconfigure how they do business. Every business (large and small) has been faced with massive challenges, from navigating employee safety and changing work conditions, to the safe delivery of goods and services to customers. Businesses have also been forced to address the process of approaching a fearful customer base who may be compelled to stay home unless absolutely necessary. In the midst of these challenges, all businesses have one common element that is essential to keeping the doors open (either literally or virtually). Whether a company is selling goods or services, is focused on B2B or B2C, is a large corporation or a small Mom-and-Pop shop, sales are vital to keeping every company afloat regardless of a major public health crisis. As this pandemic persists, it is becoming evident that a new “normal” will need to be established. Businesses must now shift from short-term fixes to long-term solutions in order to survive.
So how can your business continue to see sufficient sales during the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic? Since most customers are now staying home (either by choice or by government order) and are reluctant to step foot inside an establishment, the challenge for any business is to stay in front of customers and to remain relevant and necessary. As a result of the circumstances, most customers are now engaged heavily online, either with work or for entertainment, and this means that your business needs to be heavily invested in digital and social media marketing in order to get in front of your customers. The need to focus on digital and social media marketing has never been more important to survival and it will continue to be one of the most important elements in driving sales for businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The coronavirus pandemic is projected to continue for the next one to two years, if not longer. This is not something businesses can ride out for the short-term without fundamentally changing their marketing approach and investing in digital and social media marketing. Here at SN Digital Agency, we have been working for over a decade to help businesses and brands of all sizes create sustainable, flexible digital strategies to meet the needs of our clients regardless of economic challenges. The investment in authentic, goal-focused, results-oriented digital marketing has never been more realized and worthwhile to SN Digital Agency clients than it is today. With our vast experience, we are confident that we can help any business stay afloat–and even thrive–during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tips for Social Media and Digital Marketing During COVID-19
How do you get started? Use our tips below to learn how to leverage your digital and social media marketing strategy during COVID-19. Following these guidelines today will set your business on a track to survive and even grow during these difficult times. It will allow you to step forward with a plan of action to help strengthen your digital presence and utilize digital and social media marketing to keep thriving. If you have questions or need additional support feel free to contact us today. We are here to help you!
Social Media Marketing During COVID-19: Create a Plan of Action
Adapting to the new consumer, one that is fearful and reluctant to go into any establishment to conduct business means fundamentally changing the way business is done. As businesses adapt to the new consumer, it is important to thoughtfully plan out the new way you will be conducting your business. Smart businesses will be focusing heavily on digital marketing and social media, because this is where the audience is right now, and this will be most effective. Your plan of action should include an adjusted customer-service plan and a social media and digital messaging plan, and the final step will be sharing your plan with your customers online.
Create A Customer Service Plan During COVID-19
Customer service is at the core of a successful business, and the way your business interacts with its customers has most likely changed quickly and drastically, so adapt to this change by adjusting your customer service plan. Your customer service plan should include all forms of customer service, from in-person to digital. This period of increased digital interactions offers unique opportunities for ways to further engage and serve your customers online. However, you still need to plan for in-person interactions, such as helping them when issues and questions arise, offering delivery options, or seeing patients one-on-one.
Some ways you can build your customer service during COVID-19 include:
- Use an online announcement or post to let your customers know what their experience will be like when they do come into your store or building. This will help put them at ease and avoid any issues that may arise from lack of communication.
- Think of ways you can help your customers with issues or questions while at a distance. For instance, if they need a return or repair on an item, consider a curbside drop-off or mail-in option so they don’t have to risk their health by physically coming into the store.
- Proactively stay in touch with your customers via email newsletters and your blog, and keep them updated of any changes to your business as time goes on. Consider posting more frequently than usual on your Facebook page or blog to keep your customers informed, and make sure to monitor your business email account and phone line closely.
- Prove to your customers that they are a valued part of your community by engaging with them consistently and well, both online and in-person. Continue to serve them with the respect and care that they are accustomed to when they see you face-to-face, and they won’t soon forget it. When you do serve your customers in person, make sure they feel safe by wearing a mask or gloves, keeping your store frequently sanitized, and serving customers one-on-one and/or from a distance.
Create a Social Media Messaging Plan During COVID-19
Just as you create a plan of action for your customer service, you should create a plan of action for your social media messaging. What is the message that you want to convey to your customers and audience during this time? Be honest with your customers about what your business is going through. If you are a small business, be open about your struggles and how your community can help. If you are a large business that isn’t quite as affected by the economic decline, be open about the ways you are using your resources now to help those around you. No matter the size of your business, be transparent about what your company values are and how it is proving those values in this trying time. Be candid about why you may be cutting back on hours and services, or adjusting prices. Determine your core message, and then use social media to relay it, ensuring that all the content you produce and publish is in line with that message.
Within your core message, here are some things you can implement into your messaging plan:
- A series of social media posts that can be used over and over again. These messages should be straight-forward and convey your business’s stance and response to COVID-19, as well as what it is doing to keep its employees and customers safe.
- Some social media messages that can be used for updates and adjustments. The news is changing every day as the COVID-19 situation unfolds, so it is imperative to adjust your messaging to what is current. For example, a month ago posting an image of 15 staff members would have been acceptable. Now, businesses are shifting their content to show no more than one or two people in an image to illustrate an adherence to the social distancing protocol. As many states are under a “Shelter in Place” or “Stay Home” order, thoughtful messaging has shifted from inviting people to “come on in!” to encouraging them to shop online, or order for take-out. This could change again in coming weeks, so always stay up to date on what the CDC is recommending.
- A document of incoming social media posts that you can add to as stories/pictures come in from your customers and staff about how they are using your products, keeping your store clean, etc.
- An FAQ page with pre-written answers to be used on social media, anticipating the questions and requests that your business might receive during this time (ie., “What are your open hours for takeout?” etc.).
- A plan for how you will respond and engage with social media comments, DMs, and reviews. Will you direct unhappy or scared customers to call your customer service line? Will you use a light tone when interacting with COVID-19-related comments, or will you be more formal in these interactions? Make a decision, and then be sure every member of your social media management team abides by it.
- Images used should reflect what your customer will encounter today if they walk into your business. If you tell customers that your staff are wearing masks and gloves, then images should show staff in masks and gloves. Make sure if you tell your customers you will follow a certain protocol for safety that your staff follows this protocol at all times.
Use your social media messaging to convey your plan of action to your customers. Keep in mind that people are experiencing a wide range of emotions and lifestyle transitions. Some of your audience is working from home, others are still going into their job, and still others may be unemployed. People are navigating fear, isolation, loneliness, and boredom, and not all of them will be on the same page at the same time. You know your business’s target audience; address their unique needs in your social media messaging. Be authentic in your social media interactions, recognizing that you are interacting with real people just as you do when they come into your store. This presents yet another unique opportunity for you to let your customers know that you see and understand what they are going through, and that you are taking their needs seriously. Keep your business’s message during this time consistent so that you can build trust with your online community.
Social Media Marketing During COVID-19: Focus on Community
As you implement your plan of action during COVID-19, remember to keep the focus on your community – both your loyal, returning customers, as well as potential new customers. Utilize social media marketing during this time to expand your online community. Your business’s consumer base is spending a lot of time online, and they are a captive audience. Your content should be focused on engaging your consumer base and drawing in new people to your page. Rather than putting the focus on advertising your product or service, which people may not be willing to spend money on yet, promote your brand itself and the benefits your online community can offer people. Show the people that are online looking for connection during this isolating time that your brand is a place where they can find it. Some practical ways you can use social media to build your community are by offering tips and advice, providing your services online, and hosting fun online events or activities.
Building Community On Social Media During COVID-19: Offer Tips and Advice
Engage with your online community and help it to grow by offering relevant tips on your social media pages. People are actively searching for resources to adjust to a new way of life – and as a result, those resources are coming almost exclusively through the internet. Share your best ideas for the ways your customers can continue to live the life they love, even when physically distancing from other people and places. If you establish your online platform as a place that is helpful and encouraging, people will want to keep coming back and also share your content with their friends.
Some ideas for social media posts offering tips and advice:
- Share tips that are relevant to your brand. For instance, if you’re a pet food company, share a post with tips for activities you can do with your dog during social isolation, or tips to practice social distancing at the dog park or vet.
- Share advice that is relevant to COVID-19. Maybe you have found a great online tutorial for sewing your own homemade mask, or an article with tips on how to effectively wear a mask in public without touching it.
- Offer suggestions that are relevant to people’s situations. Share your personal advice for how to work from the couch without back pain, or ways people can get outside and get their endorphins flowing.
Along with the tips you share, include a call to action asking people to leave comments with their tips, or photos of themselves putting your advice into practice. This helps give people a fun way to continue to interact with your business from afar, and helpful posts like this are highly shareable – which means your content will be getting on the screens of even more potential customers. While sharing tips won’t lead directly to sales, it will display corporate social responsibility to your consumers, paving the way for customer loyalty, and helping to increase your online community.
Building Community On Social Media During COVID-19: Offer Fun Online Activities
Further increase your engagement and grow your online community by hosting virtual events, giveaways, and more. There’s a lot of fear and negativity in the world and online right now, and chances are your audience is tired of scrolling past articles that scare them. People are looking for connection and relief during this isolating time, so use your social media channels to offer a fun community experience – it will be like a breath of fresh air to your customers.
Some examples of fun online activities:
- Virtual events or classes. For example, gyms have closed under government safety mandates, but that didn’t stop Planet Fitness from offering free online workout classes to all of its members. Other companies are hosting virtual dance parties to connect with their consumers. Talk show hosts, support groups, and churches are providing livestream alternatives to their usual programming. These virtual gatherings and activities offer your online community the human connection we all desperately need in a time like this.
- Go live on your Facebook page to talk with your customers and answer their questions in real-time. This gives them the opportunity to tune in together at the same time, bringing a sense of connection and allowing them to have their voices heard and acknowledged right then and there.
- Contests, sweepstakes, or giveaways. At the beginning of the week, publish a post calling for entries to win, and on Friday announce a winner and share a prize. Sweepstakes are fun, competitive, and highly shareable.
- Offer opportunities to be featured. Even if you can’t do a contest or giveaway with prizes, call for your online community to share their photos and stories with your business online, and then feature them on your social media channels (make sure you get the full permission you need from people to share their photos).
Be sure to use social media (organic posts and ads) to promote your events, contests, activities, and features and invite people to join in for the next one even if they missed the first activity. They will keep coming back for more once they have experienced the fun connection that your social media channels are offering, and maybe they’ll invite a friend to tune in as well – all of which aids in growing your community.
Building Community On Social Media During COVID-19: Offer Services Online
While you grow your online community in fun and interactive ways, you can also increase your reach by offering your services online. Increased digital marketing may very well stay the new normal, even after the coronavirus pandemic has passed, so seize this opportunity to consider new ways your business can offer its services, and then use social media to let your customers know that they can still access your product or service. Whatever your business might offer, get creative with the ways you can extend it to your customers digitally.
Some practical ways to grow your community by offering your service online:
- Temporarily waive fees for online resources or shopping. Publishers like the Washington Post, who typically charge for readers, have made all COVID-19-related articles free. When restaurants were ordered to shut down dining-in services to the public, Uber Eats notified its customers that it was waiving the delivery fee for all local restaurants. If your business is a store, offer free home delivery for any order over a certain amount of money, or for a limited time.
- Present an online version of your service. If you are a beauty store, offer online makeup tutorials. If you teach dance lessons, hold your class over Zoom or Skype so your students don’t have to go weeks and months between classes.
- Set up online ordering and a delivery service during this time, even if your business hasn’t offered delivery in the past. You may find it to be so successful that you continue it even after things have gone back to normal.
There are plenty of ways to get creative and stay safe while sharing your services with your valued customers. If you can set these alternatives up during this time, you can continue to use them and grow your business even after the crisis has passed. This COVID-19 pandemic is challenging, but it also presents an opportunity for businesses to be nimble and adaptive. Using your social media and digital presence to adjust the way you do business opens doors for the growth of your community and brand.
Social Media Marketing During COVID-19: Don’t Go It Alone
Shifting your business’s focus to social media and digital strategies can feel daunting, especially if you’ve never done it before. Hiring an experienced social media marketing agency like SN Digital Agency can help. We have expertise in building and maintaining a strong digital presence, and implementing communication objectives that will address your customer’s needs and deliver the results your business is looking for. We have spent years with our clients working to build strong online communities and social media marketing plans to help them navigate a storm just like this one. Agencies like SN Digital can also devote the necessary time to running your online marketing and social media channels, while you focus on putting out fires in other areas of your business. During a busy time like this, social media marketing experts can help you get the most value out of your marketing costs so that you can focus on your own urgent business tasks.
While this is an uncertain time for businesses, we fully believe that those who use digital and social media marketing to connect with their consumers and grow their communities online will weather this storm. Your business can benefit during this time from using social media to implement a plan of action that includes both a customer service plan and a social media messaging plan. Build an online community that will last by meeting your customers needs and offering a fun and safe online space for them. Using digital marketing to keep your business running as close to normal as possible will help your business be one that reaps the long-term benefits and achieves lasting success when the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
In the meantime, remember that SN Digital Agency is an experienced, results driven full service social media agency! We understand that many businesses need extra help during this time, and we would love to hear from you about partnering with your business to leverage your social media presence for success now and in the future! Contact us today!