As a small business owner myself, I understand how stressful the coronavirus outbreak has been for entrepreneurs like you. Temporary closures, fearful consumers, mandated quarantines, and a stressed workforce have made this an unprecedented time. It feels like everything is shutting down or moving online, and the future is very uncertain for all of us. But if I can offer a little good news in terms of your communication with customers, it is this: They are more willing than ever to hear from you. And they have never been as captive as they are now.
As I write this, Wisconsin just entered its mandatory ‘safer in place’ order. As of Wednesday, March 25, 50% of the US population has been urged to shelter in place. What are the masses doing to occupy their time? Flocking to social media to stay on top of the latest virus developments, while also connecting with friends and family. This article’s headline from The Verge says all you need to know: “Facebook says coronavirus is pushing usage through the roof.”
That said, if you are in a position to create content and share it on your social media channels, you most likely should be doing it right now.
But what if my business is closed?
If your business has been ordered to close, don’t hold back from interacting with your customers. Just make sure your message is appropriate and that your tone is sensitive to the situation (see below for tips on this). Use this time to educate your customers. Help them to get to know you. Connect with them on a personal level. Because when this is all said and done, you want to be in a stronger position than you are now. While we can’t control what has happened in the last couple of weeks, we can control how we respond. Use this time wisely.
Are you an ESSENTIAL BUSINESS?
If you are considered an essential business, regular, simple communication is key. Our world is changing by the second, so straightforward posts helping customers understand how they can do business with you is very important. If your hours vary, plan a daily post that states your hours each day. Don’t share anything that might cause a panic (e.g., “We only have two rolls of toilet paper left!! Hurry and get them while you can!!”). And if you ship products, proactively let customers know if they should anticipate any delays in processing or shipping. Open and ongoing communication is key!
A NOTE ABOUT YOUR MESSAGING STRATEGY
Not all messaging and not all marketing is a good idea right now. For example, a campaign promoting social interactions is a very bad idea. Also, pushing the sale of non-essential items (e.g., luxury watches, vacations, women’s formal wear), or products that just don’t make sense during a pandemic, is not a solid strategy either. But that doesn’t mean that you should just sit back and be silent. Connect and educate. Share encouraging stories. Provide ways you can help.
All that said, here is a short list of social media ideas you can use to connect with your customers right now.
4 social media messaging strategies to use right now
- Share personal stories about how this is impacting your business and employees. People connect to people. Remind your fans we are all in this together. Don’t create panic; your customers are already panicked enough. But consider giving fans a behind the scenes look at how your business is responding. Video is king so we’d recommend starting there, but pictures and written text can still be powerful when used correctly.
- Restaurants and food service providers: Tell your customers how you are ensuring their food is being prepared safely and with the utmost concern for cleanliness. Make placing an order simple, and provide curbside carry-out or delivery options.
- Share a story about something positive you are doing for the community or something uplifting that you’ve experienced first-hand. Ask how you can help your customers.
- Repurpose old blogs and videos. Dust off some of your old content and repackage it, especially content that offers a distraction. Think ahead to summer and fall. Give people something to focus on now that will benefit them then.
This is a situation none of us have been in before. Remember to remain human. Help as much as you can. And if you find yourself struggling with how to develop an appropriate message right now, reach out and let us help.
Best of luck! We’re all in this together!