Every business is learning to adapt to the challenges of marketing during the COVID-19 outbreak. Using social media is especially tricky in these unprecedented times. However, small businesses can still play a useful role in keeping their audiences informed and engaged, as long as they tread carefully.
This guide looks at how your business can remain relevant on social media and communicate appropriately without alienating your audience. While you need to adapt your messaging, there are many meaningful ways you can still connect with followers and customers.
Don’t Be Exploitative
Coming across as opportunistic during these times is definitely something to avoid. Time-sensitive offers or urgent-sounding call-to-action phrases like “Don’t miss out” will sound inappropriate. This shouldn’t be seen as a marketing opportunity and your customers don’t want to feel like they’re being exploited.
Be Mindful of Insensitive Words
At this time, it’s important to pay more attention to the language you use on social media. Words connected to the virus such as “spread,” “infectious,” and “viral” will look highly insensitive, even if you’re referring to something else. Any copy that mentions a gathering or event is could also be inappropriate.
Don’t Try to Be Funny
During these uncertain times, you can safely use a more formal tone on social media, even if you’re normally a fun brand. It’s better to be too serious, rather than try to be funny and cause offense. Play it safe. Avoid humor, politics, and anything that sounds like you’re questioning the measures being taken to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Avoiding humor doesn’t mean you can’t be positive. It’s important to stay upbeat to make your followers feel better about the situation, but don’t promise too much. No one currently knows how much of an impact the virus will have in the long term. Just tell your audience that you’re listening to the experts and doing everything you can to support customers.
Share Positive News
One way to keep it positive is to share company news or promote good causes. Are there any charities you are supporting at this time? How can your audience help? By sharing positive stories, you can offer a sense of hope to everyone. Here are some other ways to lift people’s spirits:
- Share positive customer stories.
- Host a competition or giveaway.
- Share helpful guides on dealing with the current situation.
- Recommend inspirational podcasts.
Offer Advice and Support
These are challenging times and most people want to feel safe more than anything. For this reason, words of advice and comfort will be more appreciated than sales messages. Instead of promoting a product or service, look at ways that customers can use your services to alleviate the side-effects of social isolation. For example, you might offer a course in which people can learn new skills, or perhaps you have a forum or social media channel that people can use to feel more connected with others.
Keep Customers Updated
If the COVID-19 situation has changed the way you do business, make sure you inform customers. For example, if you’re a local business and had to temporarily close your shop, direct customers toward your website where they can find out more information and place online orders. You can also share stories of how your business and employees are dealing with COVID-19.
Ask for Feedback
You can always ask your customers what they want to hear from you. Do they want frequent updates? Is there any more information that they would like you to share? Use the feedback as a guide to how you should behave on social media and what you should be posting.
Listen and Respond More
It’s more important than ever before to listen to your audience, so check the social media feeds of your followers. Join in with conversations when it’s appropriate and add value to the discussion. When customers have specific questions directed toward your business, try to respond as quickly as possible.
Review Your Social Media Ads
Do you have ad campaigns already running on social media? It’s crucial to review all of your ads to ensure they’re still suitable at this time. Make sure the copy is in line with current guidelines related to COVID-19 and that you’re not using insensitive words or phrases. It might even be necessary to stop all ads until things start to return to normal.
Perform a Social Media Audit
With many businesses putting promotional content on hold, it’s a good time to perform a social media audit. By cleaning up your social media accounts now, you can focus more on content delivery when things return to normal. For example:
- Consider where to focus your efforts. Cut ties with any platforms that are underperforming or draining your resources.
- Update your “About” sections and contact details.
- Update your profile photos and background images.
- Change your pinned posts if they’re currently not relevant.
Over to You
The COVID-19 outbreak has affected individuals from all walks of life, so the risks of alienating followers or unintentionally offending someone are higher than ever before. For this reason, it’s important to follow these guidelines to make sure you protect the reputation of your business and retain your customer base.
If you have any doubts about the content you post, put in on hold until a later date. Many brands are posting less content, so you won’t be alone.
Going forward, review your social media accounts every few days to make sure your content is resonating with your audience. How you respond during this time will affect how your customers view your business for years to come. In summary: be sensitive, transparent, optimistic, and helpful. And listen. Your customers will thank you for it.