Spoiler: Don’t stop marketing.
Disclaimer: Posts featured are posts I’ve come across in my social media lurking; these businesses are not my clients, and I am not paid to promote them.
The last few weeks have been difficult. You see, I’m a social media manager for a variety of small businesses across the country. Small business owners are who I speak with day in and day out.
Maybe you’ve heard? It’s been a little rough for them. As cities shuttered and states asked their populations to “hunker down” and stay at home, many of the businesses I work with–the “non-essential” ones–were forced to make fast decisions about their businesses.
I noticed it everywhere. At work, on social media, and everywhere in between, I heard business owners say:
“How can I market at a time like this?”
“It’s not appropriate to talk about daycare right now.”
“Why would I post on social media if I close my business?”
“It’s not appropriate to talk about clothing when there’s a virus going around.”
And anytime I hear this, all I have to say is: NO. STOP SIGN EMOJI. X EMOJI. NO.
I am arguably “non-essential” as a marketer. I’m not one of the heroes in healthcare, I’m not keeping the peace. But I do feel like I am responsible for being a guiding light in all this mess. I’ standing in the middle of a social media tarmac with those pointy hand cones yelling, “YOU MUST! CONTINUE! TO POST!”
Since it’s looking like we’re gonna be here a lot longer than we originally thought, let’s talk about why and what you should post on social media during a pandemic.
YOU are still there. Digitally, That is.
Let’s say your brick-and-mortar retail store is closed. The lights are off, there’s a sign on the door saying “Closed Due to COVID-19.” Your staff is heartbroken. You’re scared.
But your customers? They’re at home. They aren’t walking by your darkened retail space (because they need to stay at home). They’re just going about their business.
And isn’t that the case all the time? They’re just going about THEIR business until they’re reminded of your brand. When they consider buying from your business, they’re doing it because of the connection you’ve established with them–not because they walked by your bright, well-lit, open store.
And you know what they’re doing right now? They’re either watching Tiger King or they’re on social media.
This is an incredible opportunity to remind your audience of who you are–even through trying times.
Transforming the In-Person Experience to a Digital One
COVID-19 is a great opportunity to get creative with the way you connect with your customers. Consider your employees’ day-to-day interactions with customers.
What kinds of questions do they answer?
What barriers do they run into when serving your customers?
How do your products and employees bring joy to your customers?
Let’s turn those interactions into digital ones. These days, there is any number of ways you can provide teleservices: Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, and Google Hangouts, are just a few of your options. Now ask:
-Can I have appointments online?
-Can I relax my return policy to accommodate a more comfortable digital shopping experience?
-Can I hand-deliver items they’d otherwise come to me to buy?
-Can I help them DIY the experience of working with my business at home?
Here’s an example of what women’s clothing boutique Ruby and Jenna did when they had to close their brick and mortar locations:
Bring Your Business to Them
Here’s the honest truth: your customers miss you. If my favorite local Indian place stopped delivery and curbside pickup, I would actually scream. Just the possibility of them closing made me panic-order from them at the first utterance of a stay-at-home mandate.
So, if you’re closed, bring what’s great about you to them!
Here’s a daycare giving parents an idea of something to do at home. The implication being “here’s what we’d do if your kids were with us!”
A dine-in restaurant explaining how to recreate one of their menu items with grocery staples:
A burger favorite created a DIY option with their literal “secret sauce” so customers can enjoy a similar experience.
Whatever you do, show your audience you care about them by bringing your business to them–even if you get a little unorthodox to get it there.
Lean In to the Conversation
Finally, let’s talk about the tone you want to use in your posts.
This differs from business to business, but one thing is for certain: honesty is key.
There is no question that what we’re all experiencing together is difficult. It’s anxiety-inducing. It’s scary.
Yet, it is what it is.
Take this opportunity to cut through the fluffy promotional language and the high-production photos.
Meet your audience where they are. If it’s appropriate for your brand, sprinkle in a little humor! Show them you’re shoulder-to-shoulder with them in this crisis. And most of all, be positive.
Here’s an example of a recent social media post by Ulta. Fun, honest, and real.
Get creative and fun with your ideas! Since we’re all in this together, there’s a lot of forgiveness in the way you do the marketing. What matters is that you continue your presence to meet people where they are.
Do you have a social media post from the Coronavirus pandemic you’re proud of? Let me know in the comments below!