As strange as it sounds the coronavirus pandemic is an opportunity for social media to reduce blockages on other service channels, limit customer frustration and provide real-time intelligence for managers looking for valuable consumer insights. It has showcased the power of connection when other forms of communication have been taken away with almost fifty percent of consumers globally spending longer on social media since the COVID-19 outbreak (wearesocial.com).
1. Review scheduled posts and paid media. Double check what your social media manager has already planned for posts and ads to ensure you don’t share insensitive or inappropriate messages at this time. Review any ‘business as usual’ content and consider its relevance as consumers are largely focused on COVID-19 at present
2. Remember to be positive. Place attention on something positive that will also catch people’s attention. Your customers want to know about the good news you have to share. Put the customer at the centre of communications and consider their experience in regard to brand social media posts. It’s vital to review all content for appropriateness in light of the current situation
3. Stay connected. Communications must align with the brand’s mission and vision to ensure authenticity, people seek connection during times of uncertainty. Brands that engage with their customers effectively and empathetically will resonate the most during and after a crisis
4. Set up social media listening for your brand. If you don’t have social media listening/monitoring in place, you should. There are several tools available to try for free and can be found with a simple google search. Review your current queries and either amend them to include COVID-19 related themes or set up a new search stream
5. Fact check news. Users expect companies to fact check news and provide them with accurate and timely information that not only engages with them, but educates them and helps to shape their buying decision
6. Share your good work. it’s OK to share imperative information on making a difference during a health pandemic. Consumers are more willing to resonate and respond, or even share your information because there is a significant need for ways that everyday people can help during times like these
7. Keep customers updated. If your business is changing the way it normally trades, make sure you let your clients know. Keep them abreast of changes in trading hours, location, delivery instructions and order processes
8. Review key consumer concerns and share them with your team. All businesses are looking for the latest updates and social media keeps your finger on the pulse of what consumers want. Develop a report or email summary that highlights key trends and share them with your staff
9. Be sensitive. Now is the time when you should be avoiding the use of words such as ‘stocking up’, ‘coughing’ or ‘ill’. Devise a campaign that reflects the current environment, so if you have photos that show large groups of people at a party it might be better to save it for a later date
10. Strive for unity. Ensure your ‘voice’ is delivering a unified message that appeals to your target audience. It needs to be consistent across all social media platforms and written in a tone that best suits your brand
11. Share key learnings daily with your leadership team. Work out what information is needed by your business leaders so you can provide timely updates. Be sure to ask what information is actually helpful and revise it regularly
12. Take advantage of FREE features. Many online groups such as Facebook groups can be an excellent way to market your business to the local and digital community. If you aren’t sure where to find them you can always ask your existing customers which groups they belong to and ask them for an invitation. Another free idea is the use of ‘chatbot’ on messenger which allows virtual engagement instantly
13. Review and improve your customer service. . If you don’t have existing staff who are skilled at social media customer service now may be the time to outsource. There are a number of businesses that offer remote, round the clock specialists in this area
14. Ask the expert. A great way to set your self apart from your competitors is to feature an outside expert/influencer to do a live webinar or Q & A session where consumers can participate and experience educational content. By doing this your business is able to engage with its customers, and also the followers of the influencer
15. Review your response process. It has never been a better time to review your issue response process. With a heightened focus on COVID-19 related issues it may be appropriate to triage BAU queries to a separate team as you focus on responding to the things that matter most
16. Brush up your video skills. YouTube has launched its ‘Video Builder Tool’, which allows small businesses to create video content for free. The tool which had been in development for months, was released early to help businesses with their communication and content strategies during the pandemic
17. Get creative. For many organisations COVID-19 has significantly impeded traditional business, and as such the need to think outside the box has never been greater. Examples of innovative ideas include museums and zoos who have introduced virtual tours, gyms that are hosting online classes and local libraries who are implementing virtual books clubs. You are only restricted by your imagination
18. Review your measurement systems. Measurement is more important than ever during a crisis as it is the only way to know if what you’re doing is working and what you need to do next. Continue to review traffic flow to your website and record all key consumer queries
19. Check out Facebook Shops. Facebook has announced the launch of Shops which is a new feature enabling businesses to display and sell their products on the platform. The move comes as many retailers have been forced to shut down bricks-and-mortar stores with many now looking to sell online.
20. Monitor official authority communication regularly. Keep abreast of what government regulators are saying about restrictions or social distancing measures that impact you and your customers. Set a daily reminder (at least) to check the relevant websites – or social media pages and then update your own social media when necessary
The main benefit of social media is to maintain awareness for small businesses as well as amplify new opportunities to earn through the pandemic. Where possible customers want to support their favourite business during the crisis so make it easy for them by having a strong social media presence.