Navigating Your Social Through COVID
I am so sick of hearing/typing/talking about COVID and the Coronavirus, guys. Like... I would rather wear Crocs in public or cheer for the Patriots than talk about it but this is our reality right now and we've just gotta buckle down and face it. This pandemic has stopped the world in its tracks and you have no choice but to navigate your business through it. Whether you're able to be open right now or not, this is changing how you put your brand out there.
Your brand's social media presence is more important than ever right now.
Your brand's social media presence is more important than ever right now.
Why? Because it is single-handedly the fastest way to get your message out to the most amount of people in a budget-friendly way. Advertising your brand on social media does not have to cost a cent. Not one. Which, when you're facing a global pandemic that is crippling the world economically, spending less money is a good thing. Social media consumption is skyrocketing right now. Use this to your advantage.
Go back to the basic practices and adjust your content to fit the current reality. Show your consumers how they can be a part of your brand while following state and federal guidelines. Check out what others in your industry are doing and maybe give them a call to chat strategies.
So how can you make the most of your social presence?
Make Sure Your Brand Information is Accurate
I swear I've never had to pump out updates faster than I have in the last few weeks. There's a constant flow of new information coming in that impacts businesses and it has to be up and accurate everywhere as fast as possible. You have to prepare your brand for every type of consumer. Some will check your posts and notice that you're open Thursday from 2-5pm for pickup. Others will see that Google says you're open 12-8pm and keyboard warrior you into oblivion because you're not open 12-8pm. Hours of operation are key right now, if you have them. Make sure they're right. Most platforms have also added COVID-specific settings. On Facebook, for example, you can select 'No Changes', 'Temporarily Closed', or 'Open With Service Changes'. The later gives you an option to identify online services, delivery, pickup, and other changes.
This information needs to be correct. If you have 10 things on your list to do, make this the priority and get it out of the way first. If your contact information, hours, address, etc. are not accurate, you're missing out on leads that you can't afford to miss out on during crisis.
Turn FAQ into Frequently Answered Quarantine-related posts
Make a list of the questions your consumers have regarding your brand right now. For example, at Recon Brewing, our customers are asking:
What are your hours of operation?
What beers can I get to-go?
How can I help support my favorite bartender?
How are you guys doing?
Every week, I make sure to post the curbside to-go and delivery menu, along with the hours of operation. You may be tempted to assume your customer knows this information because you've updated your website, Yelp, Google, etc. but you can't. Yes, it's important for that to be correct but your customer does not want to go looking for that information right now. Make it as easy as possible for them. FYI if you are a fan of Recon, this graphic is from April 23. If it's not April 23, check our page to make sure you're looking at an updated list.
After numerous inquiries regarding helping our employees during the crisis, Recon created a Paypal and Venmo account to help our employees that were most impacted by the shutdown. I made it easily accessible on our website and rotate it into our social media posts as well.
The last FAQ is my favorite and it is the easiest to play with. Your customers care about you or else they wouldn't follow your account. Sharing a "hey, we're doing okay" or "hey, here's this meme that made us giggle and forget about all this madness for a second" post is great. It lets them know you're doing okay. For Recon, our community is really close. These goofy posts help get people engaged and encourage them to blow off some steam.
Your fans are telling you what they're looking for from your page right now. Listen to them.
Remember to be Social
Interact with followers and other accounts on social media. You should be practicing this anyway but if you haven't been, there's no time like the present to get up to speed. People are bored. Bored in the house and they're in the house bored, just like the song. They are craving human interaction... even if it's digital.
Check your accounts for tags and engage in conversations initiated by your customers. Respond to comments on your content. Use relevant hashtags to find posts related to your brand, directly or indirectly, and leave a nice comment. For example, Recon is big on #SupportLocal and #DrinkLocal. I tag every Instagram post with it and we follow the hashtags in our feed. Find your version of that and drop a few likes and comments for some people. You never know how much it will help with your brand's reach and image. If they already know your brand, great! They'll probably be pretty stoked that you saw their post in the first place. If they don't, awesome! Now there's a chance they'll click your profile to learn more about who this random page is that engaged with their post.
Remember that Less is More
You have to keep in mind that your audience is consuming a ton of content every day. While you want to get your information out there and be social, you need to be aware of how much is too much. This will absolutely vary based on your industry, demand, and the time of year. If you work for the NFL, for example, you're going to be posting a ton right now because of the draft. This approach works for right now because it compliments the product your audience is consuming. If I post 10-15 things on the brewery's page today? It is not going to be as effective and it's going to be a waste of your time and resources.
Be mindful of the type of content you're selling to your consumer. Going live is a great way to connect with viewers and get them engaged. It allows you to have the opportunity to answer questions and build a relationship with your audience. However, if you go live every day and it doesn't suit your brand's industry, your audience is going to become desensitized to it and slowly stop consuming your content. Maybe not entirely, but you will see a drop off. Check your insights and if you notice that your engagement and reach is dropping, take some time to reevaluate your approach. Keep your page fresh and exciting!
Use Messenger to Your Advantage
If your consumers have questions, it is easier than ever for them to ask. All they have to do is hit 'Message' and boom, they're connected to you. Do not let unread messages and unanswered questions be the reason you lose a customer right now. Get them the answers they're looking for as quickly as possible. Facebook tracks how quickly and how often brands respond to messages and displays this information for customers to see. If you have a similar business to someone else and a user logs on with a question and sees that you take 5-6 hours to respond but your competitor responds in 30 minutes, they're probably going to go to your competitor because they'll get the information they need fast. Make it a habit to routinely check your Spam folder too. Sometimes leads will get dumped into there by mistake.
I say it louder for the people in the back. Avoid politics on your business page, especially during this time. You love the decisions being made right now? Cool. You hate them? Cool. Keep it on your personal page and keep your brand out of it.
Your business, most likely, has no control over this virus and therefore no control over how political leaders will choose to guide us through. Focus on what you can control and avoid putting your personal feelings into it. Obviously you wish that it was business as usual and you didn't have to adjust how you operate but that is not the reality we are living in. What you can control is finding a way to allow your customer to consume your product so you can make it out of this on the other side.
By avoiding snide comments about political figures and keeping focused on you and your consumer, your image will shine bright in a world so susceptible to negativity. People will remember that you acted with grace and they will tell their friends to check out your business. If you bash every Joe-Schmoe and Joe Exotic in politics and every decision they make, you're probably going to end up shooting yourself in the foot when customers turn their backs on you. Your job is to lead your brand through this crisis. Give yourself the best possible chance and leave the politics for other places.
All of these points can be applied to how you run your brand's social media identity during any season, but sometimes in crisis, we forget how to go back to basics. Trust your audience, answer their questions, engage in their digital life, and keep the politics for your personal page. The more positive and strong your brand appears to be during this, the more support you will have on the other side. I promise you that. Your customers will be proud to consume your product if you show good character now. Lead the way.
Til next time,