During a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, connecting with customers and prospects via social media platforms is essential to maintaining visibility, building goodwill, and perhaps even generating a bit of revenue. The challenging part is that the social media strategy you deployed before the crisis may no longer be effective or appropriate. Now that businesses have had a couple of months to adjust, best practices are emerging:
Review your approach. Assuming your company already has an active social media presence, take a measured, objective look at what you do and how you do it. Gather feedback from managers and key employees. If feasible, ask trusted customers if they feel your posts have been in tune with the times. While you recalibrate, do not hesitate to slow down or even pause your social media efforts.
Look to help, not sell. The drastic economic slowdown has increased pressure on everyone. When revenue starts falling off, it is only natural to want to market aggressively and push sales as hard as possible. However, on social media, this tactic generally does not bode well. Many people are dealing with job losses and financial hardship. They may view hard-sell tactics as insensitive or, worse yet, exploitive of the crisis. Create posts that offer positive messages of empathy and encouragement while also letting friends and followers know that you are open for business.
Deliver consistency. Although you may need to tweak the content of your posts to avoid appearing out of touch, a national crisis probably is not the time to drastically change the look and style of your posts. Customers value brand consistency and may even draw comfort from seeing your business soldier on in a familiar fashion.
Engage with customers. Unlike traditional marketing, social media is designed to be interactive. So, seek out viable opportunities to increase engagement with those who follow your accounts. Many people are feeling isolated and would welcome conversation starters, coping tips, authentic replies to questions, and gratitude for compliments. As always, however, interaction with the public on social media can be fraught with danger. Choose discussion topics carefully, exercise restraint in dealing with criticism, and be on guard for ‘trolling’ or conversations that could get into politics, religion, or other sensitive topics.
Social media was once a brave new world for businesses to navigate. For the time being, it may be the only world in which many companies can directly interact with a large number of customers and prospects. Manage your message carefully. We can help you assess the costs and results of your marketing efforts, including those on social media, and devise sensible strategies.