We read today that actor Jared Leto was on a silent meditation retreat in the desert for 12 days, and on reemerging into the real world, he was shocked to hear about the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic. So, you’d have to have been getting zen in the desert with Jared to not know that Covid-19 is pretty much all our news feeds have been talking about for the past week.
And if you’re anything like us, opening up those news feeds can feel overwhelming. We’re bombarded with news and misinformation about the pandemic, and it’s tempting to swipe straight back out.
On the flipside, there are a lot of people flocking to social media for updates (rightly or wrongly), for connection, and for entertainment. For anyone practicing social distancing or self-isolating, social media may be their most important connection to the outside world right now.
So, we know that social media is incredibly important. But these are weird, confusing, unprecedented times for all of us. There are a lot of business owners out there right now wondering how they should be approaching social media. You’re questioning what you feel comfortable with sharing, and you’re wondering what’s appropriate.
So, we wanted to share our thoughts in case it helps you feel more comfortable with your approach.
Every business is different, but for so many of us, it’s currently business-as-usual, and our customers still need our products and services. So, take note of this: It’s OK to promote and sell your products or services. It’s not insensitive to sell - you’re not taking away from people, you’re providing something they need.
However, sell from a place of service, not fear. Where businesses are getting called out online is when they are trying to use this virus as a marketing opportunity to leverage peoples’ fears and vulnerabilities.
That’s an important no-no.
Instead, we’d encourage you to look at this as a powerful learning curve in terms of how you market your business on social in general. We’ll drop in a handy reference here to episode 2 of the Social For Good podcast where we chat about this very topic - the need to reevaluate how we contribute to the social space. If you haven’t checked it out yet, have a listen.
Now is the time to create content that prioritises connection and gives value. You can still promote your products and services, but pull back on the hard-sell posts and instead create content where you can:
Educate & serve
Focus on high-value content such as checklists, micro blogs, tutorials, how-to posts - anything that not only demonstrates the support you offer your audience, but allows them to feel empowered with new knowledge
There is still plenty of good going on, let’s hear it. Staff intros, customer success stories, community engagement - all of this is a positive contribution to your social audience while strengthening connection and community online
Last we checked, laughter and entertainment isn’t on lockdown, so yes, it’s OK to share lighthearted content. In fact, the Sprout Social survey told us that 48% of consumers follow a brand on social media to be entertained (that’s only second to learning about new products and services at 50%), give the people what they want!
There is enough bad news and misinformation clogging up social channels, so how can you change it up?
First of all: show up
Your audience needs you! Continue to create connection through Instagram or Facebook stories, IGTV or video content. Engage with comments and with other accounts. Keep the conversations going.
Keep your audience updated
Be transparent about what’s happening with your business - whether your store is shut, or whether you’re running a lean team, or whether you’ll have some disruptions due to remote working. Also let your audience know about any necessary precautions you’re taking as a business in regards to customer and staff safety. Tell them how they can still buy from you or contact you. Customers feel better when they’re clear on what’s going on.
Help reframe this experience for your audience
Social distancing, or isolation, may be a confusing or scary time for some. Use your knowledge or skills to help reframe this experience so that instead of feeling isolated, it’s an opportunity for them to connect to something new, for example, new knowledge, new self-care practices or new online communities. Create challenges or tutorials that your audience can try from home. If you have helpful resources, promote and share where you can. We’ve seen chefs doing live cooking lessons, musicians sharing music and businesses getting creative with interactive content. Now THIS is how social should be done!
The reality is that it might not be the right time to launch a new offering - that’s over to you to decide. It doesn’t mean you have to slow things down completely. In fact, for many businesses it’s already been an opportunity to pivot towards a new idea, such as offering their services online, or switching to a different services model. It might mean being creative and agile, but see it as an opportunity, not a setback.
Ask how you can help
Do you have a platform where you can connect others with providers or services they may be needing right now? Ask how you can help your community - what do they need from you, or how could you best support them. Also, please don’t be afraid to ask for help yourself. Tell your community what you need in your own business, and chances are they will rally to support you.
Watch your words
Be really mindful of the language you use. Avoid words that link to fear or sensationalisation.
It’s not helpful to spread information that isn’t from completely credible sources, so it’s just best to steer clear of that and leave the dissemination of important information to the authorities.
We’re dealing with a situation that is constantly changing. It’s unprecedented, and we’re all learning as we go. But wow, it’s going to make for one heck of a case study in a marketing lecture many years from now!
For now though, we encourage you to keep the ethos of ‘social for good’ at the heart of everything you do. Create content consciously, asking yourself: does it serve your audience in a positive way? Does it reflect the values of your business in a way that makes you proud? Does it demonstrate how you support your audience and the value you can offer them?
Keep your brand values and the needs of your audience in mind, always, and you won’t go wrong.
If you have any questions, or you’re still feeling uncertain about the best approach, our DMs are always open!