How do you market your business on social media in the face of the Covid-19?

It’s a tough nut to crack that we don’t have all the answers for.

The COVID-19 outbreak has affected all facades of our lives, and even social media marketing hasn’t been able to escape the brunt of it. Even if your business is not health-related, you need to incorporate the pandemic into your content and messaging, so as to stay relevant and show that you care. Even as people around the world are adjusting to the new norm of social distancing, businesses around the globe are scrambling to come up with new creative ideas, adjust content calendars and pivot marketing campaigns to market their products or services. If you are wondering how to use social media for business in the age of Covid-19, here are a few tips to help you stay on top.

1.    Listen And Acknowledge

Let’s face it: Covid-19 has flipped our lives upside down, one way or another. Pretending like everything is normal or ignoring the crisis like it doesn’t exist, can come across as tone deaf to your audience. Instead of running on with your promotions and offers like the world isn’t in the throes of one of the worst pandemics in history, let your followers know that you are listening and acknowledge your new normal. Something as simple and authentic as “it doesn’t feel good to promote something at this hour, but…” can make your fans believe that you care and can go a long way towards imprinting you in their memories.

For instance, Celebrity & business owner Kristin Cavallari actually explained the reason behind promoting her jewelry brand to her audience, by saying that she has 100 employees under her care and by promoting her sales on Instagram, she is making sure that they still have a job and are taken care of in this hour of need. This heartfelt message that acknowledges the current climate and keeps it real, is what humanizes her brand.

Celebrity & business owner Kristin Cavallari

2.    Be Empathetic

Covid-19 is affecting different people in different way, some far worse than others. Try to think outside of your own situation and walk in the shoes of your followers. Some may be struggling with joblessness, some may have lost their loved ones to the pandemic, some could be critically ill themselves, or perhaps suffering from isolation induced depression. Exercise empathy in the face of this crisis and think twice about posting memes or anything remotely controversial. You don’t have to keep mentioning Covid-19 explicitly whenever you post, but keep checking the tone of your captions and the intonations of your sentences before you post, and how it could be interpreted by people who are facing a different reality from your own.

Even though the online store is still promoting their products, we love how they have managed to use the right tone in their Instagram captions. In one of their posts, they start off by saying that ““not everyone is in a position to shop right now,” and acknowledging that right now is not the best time to be promoting a sale. This shows that they are thinking about all of their followers and are empathetic to their situation. This puts them apart from brands who are only thinking of the ones who can afford to shop.

Instead of bombarding their last day of sale posts with urgency-inducing cheesy phrases like ‘last chance!’ or ‘don’t miss out!’ they have simply mentioned important facts, such as when the sale ends and the discounted items available. This subtlety shows that they acknowledge the situation and are not in mood to promote hard sale.

View this post on Instagram

A BIG virtual hug to everyone that has messaged us with content that’s bringing you joy this week. We're compiling all your messages and will be sharing what you sent on stories consistently through the next week, so keep ‘em coming! We also want to say a huge thank you to those of you who continue to support us by placing orders during this time. We know it feels a little weird to be promoting products right now, but if you are looking for some distraction shopping, there's a lot of good stuff in our sale section that we made specifically to help bring you joy in your daily life, and you’ll get an extra 20% off everything with code EXTRA20. We know not everyone is in a position to shop right now, so even if you are just window shopping, there might be something there to brighten your day.

A post shared by (@shopbando) on

3.    Communicate Clearly With Customers

Over communication is better than under communication in the face of a crisis. If your office is closed but your team is still working full time from home, customer service is operating as usual, deliveries are made as promised and it isn’t impacting your customers, you don’t need to go into the nitty gritty details. But if shifting to telecommuting or remote working is impacting service delivery or slowing customer service response times, you need to communicate it clearly to your customers.

With Covid-19 leaving an impact on every façade of life, remember that your customers are already getting more communication than usual from the brands they engage with. So, instead of going around in circles, make sure you are offering concrete and concise information that conveys the key message. When chaos and confusion reign in, the smallest details matter to avoid confusion. Strive to make all your communication clear and relevant. If you change a policy or come up with a new clause, make sure you share it with your customers early on to give them time to react. For instance, Delta airlines’s CEO keeps customers informed of their ongoing decisions and changes on LinkedIn.

4.    Build Brand Awareness With Your Online Audience

With customers stuck at home with neigh but their mobile devices, they are highly likely to browse online to while away the hours. In fact, just yesterday, Verizon reported a 20% week over week increase in web traffic. This means that your CPM is likely to plummet down in the wake of shifts in competition and more impressions. This is a great time to capture more reach from your budget on Insta and Facebook.

For lack of anything better to do, people are becoming hungry for content, and you will be wise to plan out your ads in advance. Center your content on the services or value your product provides and how they can benefit from it in the future when they are ready to purchase. Be sure to keep your audiences updated about the latest developments pertaining to your business and how they can help you in these dreary times with business activities such as shopping online or via your app, writing positive reviews about you online, purchasing gift cards, availing your promotional sales online, or ordering delivery if available. This can make all the difference for small and local businesses.

5.    A shift in tone and perspective

Brands are often encouraged to keep a conversational tone to resonate better with their employees, but given the circumstances these days, you should steer clear of using wit or humor to accomplish that. Even being overly casual can rub some customers the wrong way. Its better to be serious than sorry for your expressions. We recommend that brands use a helpful, inspirational and positive tone instead.

In addition to keeping your tone in check, we also recommend, that you check your content twice for any cheeky or sensitive words before posting. Not only should you refrain from using overt puns, but several words and phrases that were completely harmless before, are suddenly deemed insensitive. For instead “killer”, “Event”, “gather”, “viral”, “infectious”, “contagious”, “spread”, or anything health related is a big NO. No more “check out this killer deal”, or “give your budget a pulse check” phrases!

Take a neutral or supportive stance

If your business is still relevant and up and running, good for you, but be careful with positioning. For instance, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Federal Government is implementing a steep interest rate cut. If you are a mortgage broker, an inappropriately exciting message such as “leverage the low interest rate right now!” hardly seems in good taste. Instead, you can show that you respect the gravity of the situation and wish to offer security to your customers by saying something along the lines of “Let us help you navigate the unstable economy”.

Instead of sounding like you want to capitalize on the current times, try making yourself accessible or visible to those who need you. Instead of using words like “profit”, “make the most of”, “gain”, “offer”, “advantage”, or “capitalize”, use “respond”, “cope”, “navigate”, “play a role”, “connect” or “contribute.”

Ease up on urgency

“Book now”, “call now” or “Download now” buttons are fine; but scarcity-driven or overtly exciting copywriting, such as “Grab your spot before it’s too late!” is not going to make you any popular with businesses or consumers right now. Nothing is as urgent as COVID-19 and pretending otherwise will only make you come off as an imbecile.

6.    Is Your Company Able To Help?

You must have heard how bad it looks to shoehorn your brand into a conversation in which it doesn’t belong. And chances are that like most businesses, yours has no place in a COVID-19 conversation. But it doesn’t mean that the pandemic hasn’t touched you or your community in some way, and there might be some small things your business can do to help in these moments. For instance, look at Buffer. Being a purely remote organization, Buffer is offering aid to those transitioning into the work from home reality, by showing its willingness to answer any question that their audience can have.

For instance, look at Buffer

We are seeing more and more eCommerce business cutting back ad budgets. This is why Privy hosted a free webinar to help busiensses make the most from their existing traffic:

privy messages

Similarly, in response to the Covid-19, Loom made changes to its platform to help teachers and students, such as making Loom free, removing limits, and cutting prices. Basecamp’s co-founders hosted a Q&A about remote work to help those recently transitioning into the remote working realm.

You need to ask yourself if your business can play even a small role in this situation. Don’t force it, but if it can, give back to the community and show the human side of your brand. Try to analyze what role your business plays in people’s lives. For instance, if you are a travel company, you could try to proactively answer questions from your audience regarding travel bans and cancellations and give clear directions on what’s happening. Or if you belong to the entertainment industry, you could perhaps come out with a fun distraction, just like Disney’s announcement to release Frozen 2 earlier than intended.

7.    Paid ads are really, really cheap

Last but not the least, with paid ads at an all-time low, it is high time to make the most of your advertising budget. Since big ad networks make money through an auction system, they need small scale businesses to drive up the CPC so that the bigger fish in the sea will have to spend more on ads. With the number of small businesses advertising less and less these days, the competition for the inventory is scarce, in turn, decreasing the cost per click. In a nutshell, few advertisers combined with higher traffic, translates into cheaper ads.

Certain industries are also witnessing a drop in conversion rates, but nowhere near at the same rate as the CPCs. This is why we are noticing paid ads yielding a much higher ROI than before the pandemic. It’s high time to get your feet wet in paid ads, if you haven’t done so before. Even better, consider ramping up as there is more excess inventory than there has been in years.

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