Covid-19 & Social Media: How to Communicate During the Current Pandemic
How do you market your business on social media during Covid-19?
It’s a tough question that we don’t have all the answers for. How on earth do you market your business on social media during the Covid-19 lock down? Its a tough question! What is right and what is not? Is it ethical to promote products that you can't even ship or sell? Let's get to the bottom of these questions! As people around the world are beginning to adjust to social distancing, business owners big and small are trying their hardest to put together new campaigns, adjust current content and come up with new and interesting ideas to market their products or services. Staying connected is now the most important thing we can do in this time. With businesses and people in dire need of social media to stay in touch with friends, family, gather news updates and keep themselves entertained. Facebook and Instagram have seen a 40% increase in usage due to Covid-19 with views for Facebook and Instagram live doubling in just a single week! But just because people are spending more time on social media, doesn't we treat the current situation as we normally would with our businesses. So how exactly should you be using social media for your business in this Covid-19 dominated world? Keep reading our blog for tips, tricks and ideas on what you can work on!
Understanding Social Media during Covid-19
“what should I be posting on social media right now?”
As the Instagram expert Jenna Kutcher said,
“this is not the season to be quiet, this is the season to communicate.” You cannot afford to stop marketing or selling, that also includes posting on social media. It undoes all your hard work up to this point if you let it all slip away into nothing!
Your followers are spending more time online than they ever have before, so it does present you with a unique opportunity to deepen your relationship with your audience and increase brand recognition. But also in saying that you can't act as if everything is fine or else you run the risk of coming across as insensitive to the worries and hardships people are currently facing.
But remember: this is brand new territory for all marketers and social media managers (including myself). No one is an expert in how to market your business on social media through a global pandemic. So while we can't offer any consistent and tested strategies for marking your business through the covid-19 lock down, we can give you some tips on how to help you through your posts and make better decisions as this crisis evolves.
1. Listen & Acknowledge
Ignoring Covid-19 or pretending like everything is normal can come across as inauthentic at best, and tone deaf at worst. Let your followers know that you’re listening and acknowledge our new normal. Even something as simple as “It feels weird to promote something right now, but…” can go a long way in showing your followers that you’re listening and caring. 2. Keep Posting
Your followers are spending more time online than ever before, and you want stay connected to them! If you’re unable to market or sell your products or services right now, focus on sharing content that aligns with your brand values instead.
The copy in your captions is more important than ever before as it can provide context for the content that you shot weeks ago.
3. Be Empathetic Covid-19 is affecting everyone around the world, but in different ways. Remember to think outside of your own situation, have empathy for your followers, & offer compassion. With this mind, think twice before posting memes! You don’t have to mention Covid-19 explicitly in all of your content, but do take into consideration the tone of your captions and how it could be interpreted by people facing a different reality than you might be in.
Remember that some of your followers have lost their jobs, are caring for a loved one, trying to work at home with a toddler, might be sick themselves, etc.
4. Provide Organic Value
Turn your Instagram into a valuable resource for your audience. Focus on engagement first, instead of driving traffic, by providing extra education through videos, carousel posts, or captions – instead of constantly asking to swipe up or click the link in your bio.
Here at Later, we are making a big shift in our social content to follow this principle. Instead of using Instagram to drive traffic (fun fact: stories are our top traffic driver!), we are now hyper-focused on just providing value and education organically on Instagram.
Another way to provide value is by shifting your overall content strategy to address social distancing and give your followers what they’re needing the most right now. 5. Ask for Help
If you’re struggling, it’s okay to lean on your community, that’s what it’s there for. Get vulnerable in your content, share your story, and clearly communicate how your followers can support your business right now. And remember: we’re all in this together.
What to Post on Social Media during Covid-19:
Now that you have 5 social media principles to guide you through communicating during Covid-19, let’s dive into some specific types of content that you can (and should) be posting on social media right now.
The type of social media content that you’ll be posting right now is directly related to the state of your business and how Covid-19 has affected your industry. You’ll likely either have the goal of retention, sales, or awareness.
Below, we’ve broken it out into three scenarios: closed businesses, open but hustling businesses, and then businesses who are in a strong position.
If your business is open but working hard to survive right now, like many retail stores and restaurants are, you’ll be wanting to share content with the goal of getting sales from social media. This is a super stressful and busy time for you, and you’re likely leaning on free organic channels like Instagram more than ever before. Here are some ideas:
Show up on stories every single day. It doesn’t have to look perfect, but it’s more important to stay top-of-mind with your followers now more than ever.
Connect your online store to Instagram Shopping so you can tag products in posts and stories.
Encourage your loyal followers and customers to share about your business on social media. Share user-generated content in both your stories and your feed to thank your followers for shopping or ordering from you during this time.
Don’t stop trying to sell, but use your captions to provide context, educate your community, ask for support, and communicate gratitude.
Video is a great way to share a lot of valuable information in a quick, digestible way. Plus, it performs great on the Explore page, and it doesn’t need to be complicated.
You need to make sales in order to keep your business going, and you likely don’t have a ton of time to devote to social media right now.
In this case, you’ll want to be focused on working smarter, not harder. Now is the time to create efficient workflows, simplify your process, save time, and save money.
Sitting down and scheduling a week’s worth of content at once will allow you to spend more time actually running your business.
Scenario #2: Closed (For now)
If your business is closed or unable to operate right now, such as wedding photographers, hair stylists, florists, etc, you want to share content with the goal of retention: staying in touch with your existing followers, so that you are top-of-mind when they are able to use your services or book an experience with you again. Some ideas for what you can post or work on right now are:
Share educational videos, whether that’s through your stories, Instagram Live, or IGTV. If you wouldn’t normally create video content, now is a great time to start learning!
Run an Instagram audit. Create on-brand highlight covers, update your bio, and archive any old posts that don’t fit your aesthetic.
Launch your TikTok! It takes a while to truly understand the platform and figure out how to make TikToks, but the best part about TikTok is that you can have 5 followers, create a video, and get 1 million views. You don’t need to have a large following in order to get your content seen, so if you find yourself with extra time, this is a great investment to make in your brand.
Invest in growing your Pinterest account! Pinterest is a search engine, not a social network, which means that the content you pin can reliably bring you a ton of traffic every month. Like SEO, it may take a while to reap the rewards, so it will be beneficial to you in a few months when you need it the most.
Create healthy habits. Now is a great time to establish healthy habits that you can sustain all year, whether that’s scheduling a month of content at once, or setting aside 30 minutes every day to engage with new people on Instagram.
Scenario #3: Business as (un)usual
If your business is in a strong position, or you’re not worried because you have a decent amount of cash in the bank, you’re in a healthy spot to create content with the goal of awareness.
You can use a slower time to invest in growing your brand instead of your bottom line, start new social channels, or run an influencer campaign.
If you haven’t already started a Youtube channel or an IGTV series, you should think about doing that now, even if you’re just working on the planning stages of it. But I would encourage you to buy a ring light and start recording anyway! Another way to increase brand awareness and maximize your marketing spend on social media is to run an influencer campaign.
Because of reduced demand during this time, 48% of influencers are reducing their rates for sponsored content, with an average cost savings of 30% for brands. Combine this with the fact that engagement is increasing and people are spending 40% more time on Instagram, and it’s easy to conclude that it’s actually a really good time for brands to be running influencer campaigns.
A creative strategy I heard recently was to reach out to influencers you have worked with in the past and ask them to re-post content from an older campaign at a reduced rate.
Since influencers usually shoot multiple photos for a campaign, but likely only post a few, this is a win-win for both influencers and brands.
It allows influencers to still receive income at a time when a lot of them aren’t, and it is more affordable for brands who need to be cutting costs while also driving more sales.
In fact, a lot of influencers have seen higher engagement on their sponsored posts than normal, and are just tweaking their content and captions to align with the new normal of staying at home.
Like I said earlier, no one is an expert in marketing your way through a pandemic. Don’t be too hard on yourself and remember that no one really knows what to do right now.
And in a time of heightened anxieties and uncertainty, you should also expect decreased productivity out of yourself and your team. Stay safe everyone and thanks for reading!