We rely on technology for virtually everything — especially right now. And while the reaction injection molding process has created many useful devices made of polyurethane, the cases that protect our smartphones act as a barrier to our lifeline. Since many of us still can’t leave our homes except for essential trips, most people are relying on their social media channels to stay in touch with loved ones, get important news updates, and find out what’s going on outside their own four walls.
Although many businesses are currently closed, some are still able to operate online. And even if your business isn’t deemed essential, that doesn’t mean you should stop all of your marketing efforts. It may seem like a waste during a scary time, but continuing to execute a marketing strategy during a pandemic is actually a smart move. Fewer businesses will be doing the same, which means you have a chance to compete. In addition, since more people are glued to their phones, this presents a perfect opportunity to connect with consumers online — specifically, through social media.
That said, you’ll need to tweak your strategy a bit for effective social media marketing during COVID-19. Here are just a few dos and don’ts you’ll want to follow.
Do… Share Helpful Tips
Yes, you’ll want to share information with your followers about business closures, reopening guidelines, ordering information, shipping delays, and more. But you’ll need to think beyond the practical if you want followers to stay engaged with you during this time. Focus on sharing some useful information for followers while they stay home during this time. If you run a boutique gym, share some at-home workout tips with no equipment needed. Have your own online apparel line? Share some fun ways to style loungewear. Feature your products or something in your niche in a new way that consumers can use to make their lives a little bit better. Don’t be afraid they’ll suddenly have no need for what you offer; by sharing this information, your customers will probably be even more loyal to your brand.
Do… Be Honest and Open
This is undoubtedly a tough time for everyone. While it might feel tempting to pretend like everything is business as usual, we all know that isn’t true. And if you fail to acknowledge the reality of the situation, that could be a major turnoff to consumers. You shouldn’t wallow in your hardships or try to elicit pity, but it may help to be honest and open with what your business is currently experiencing. Make sure to lead with empathy and to acknowledge the tragedies others are going through, as well. But being forthcoming about the state of your business and how customers can support you can open up a dialogue (which means lots of engagement with your audience).
Do… Show How You’re Supporting Others
You’ve probably shared some ways that customers can support your own business. But how about how your business is supporting others? Local restaurants, apparel manufacturers, and other businesses have been able to showcase their goodwill and even garner media coverage out of their mission of helping others during this time. Whether that’s dropping off meals to healthcare workers or making masks to donate to nursing homes, find a way to give back that makes sense for your brand and skills — and then highlight these efforts in a truly philanthropic way. If customers see how you’re willing to lend a helping hand even when your own business is struggling, they may be more inclined to support you in any way they can.
Don’t… Post Images of Pre-COVID Gatherings
If you’re scheduling posts on Facebook or Instagram, make sure to use content that doesn’t suggest your brand is flouting the rules. Social distancing and mask-wearing are two big issues right now — and you want to make sure your brand is seen as doing the right thing. That can be a problem if you have very little new content to share, but it’s better than providing a lengthy explanation in the caption that the photo was taken pre-COVID. You’ll need to focus on creating more at-home content, which means you may need to turn your own house into a studio or collaborate with some models or influencers to create content on the fly. While it might not be ideal, this can actually make your product or service more relevant during this time than if you were to use outdated media.
Don’t… Capitalize on Fear
The fear is palpable right now — but that doesn’t mean you should use it to your advantage. Some brands were quick to hoard and price gauge supplies like hand sanitizer, medical face masks, and disinfecting wipes. But that’s definitely not a good look. Don’t even bother trying to sell these items or use them as an incentive to get people to buy products. While it might work in some cases, the backlash will be swift. If you can make those products yourself to sell, keep prices reasonable. And don’t spread any misinformation pertaining to the coronavirus. If you have an established platform, you need to use it only for good.
Don’t… Lie or Make Promises You Can’t Keep
Consumers want to know how businesses are taking care of their employees, keeping their facilities safe, and reacting to the pandemic in general. You probably know what these individuals want to hear, but you shouldn’t be tempted to fudge the truth. Some brands have already been called out for firing or furloughing employees when they’ve publicly said they’d be keeping their staff on. Others have made statements about providing masks to workers when employees have said protective gear has yet to be distributed. While there’s always some level of healthy spin on social media and in public relations, you need to be careful not to lie about how your business is operating during the pandemic.
Likewise, you should have a clear idea of what your brand is able to deliver — and what you’re not able to do — right now. While you might be desperate for any source of income, you shouldn’t promise to be up and running again by a certain time or that you can ship out orders right away when postal delays make it impossible. While it’s okay to put a positive twist on things and have a sunny outlook for the future, you still need to stay grounded. Otherwise, you’re going to end up disappointing people and risking your reputation.
So much is uncertain right now — and the idea of posting on social media might seem frivolous. But it’s actually vital for your business’s survival. With these dos and don’ts of social media marketing in mind, you’ll be in a better position to navigate the pandemic.