Social Media Engagement and COVID-19: The Upside No One is Talking About
Let’s face it. Right now, just about everyone in the world is facing some incredibly tough times. People are out of work, businesses are losing money, and public events are getting cancelled left and right. In the midst of all of the craziness, however, there is one HUGE silver lining that no one is talking about.
Because of the nature of this pandemic, people are spending a considerably larger amount of time on their phones, particularly social media.
According to eMarketer, in the month of March alone, Facebook reported a 70% increase in usage of its apps.
This kind of spike is unprecedented in the world of marketing! The fact is, there has NEVER been a better time for us to take advantage of social media to build brands and get messages out there.
So, in order to capitalize on this newfound (and likely fleeting) exposure, here are some helpful tips for your social media content during COVID-19.
1. Stay on message.
In the midst of a crisis like this, it can be easy for companies to become flustered, forgetting their core values and message (or at least forgetting to present them to their audiences). It might feel, to the owner of a pet food company, that it is silly or impractical to advertise dog food right now. Who cares about dog food when people around the world are dying? Though considerate, this thinking is not helpful for your customers or your brand. One of the best ways to cultivate a strong brand is through consistency. By delivering a consistent message, your audience learns what your company is all about, and they see it over and over again. It sticks in their minds. It is more important now than ever to stay on message.
Deliver the same core message your brand has presented all along. Sure, it might be tailored to the current needs of your customers, but it shouldn’t stray far from your normal style. In doing this, your brand, as it shows up in people’s news feeds, will bring the sense of comfort and familiarity that your audience has come to know and love. This familiarity results in loyalty, and loyalty results in long-term success. Don’t lose your core message!
2. Know your audience.
A business that is personal is a business that is successful. In this time of isolation, it is more crucial than ever to establish a real connection with your audience. What are their needs? What are they expecting from you? How can you best serve them? The answers to these questions may look different than you’d expect, so make sure to prepare to be flexible. If your business operates out of a storefront location that is now closed to the public, ask your customers if they would like to see you begin a delivery service of some kind. Or if you are able, send them notes of encouragement or treats. If you are forced to cease operation until governmental restrictions are lifted, send your customers reminders that you’ll be ready to welcome them with open arms once this is all over. Remember that we’re all in this together; we’re all human beings facing the same threat. Treat your audience as equals, and always make sure they know you’re with them. It goes a long way.
3. Get creative (and don't be afraid to be raw).
Though the current upward trend in social media exposure is great for businesses, it can also be a trap that damages brands beyond repair. One of the biggest threats to a brand is repetition. If your customers always see the same thing (whether it’s the same format and style in every post, the same graphic shared more than once on your page, etc.), they will start to disregard your content. There is nothing more annoying, when scrolling through social media, than to see a post from a company that looks and sounds exactly the same as the last one. Falling into this rut can cost you your audience’s attention and, ultimately, your relevance.
That being said, there are TONS of ways to ensure that this does not happen to your brand! Experiment with new mediums, such as video. Whether it’s professionally produced or filmed on your iPhone, videos grab attention more than anything else. Something else that is important to note is that, with the struggles that many of us are facing right now, don’t be afraid to leave your content unpolished. To your customers, unpolished can be comforting right now. Seeing a simple video, clearly filmed on your iPhone from the dashboard of your vehicle, encouraging people to keep their heads up and come together, goes a long way for your audience. It puts you in a place of relevance in their minds, and it solidifies your brand as one of integrity and personal care for its customers.
4. Don't be afraid to spend a little money.
With economic uncertainty plaguing our country, it seems like right now is a good time to buckle down and save as much money as possible. But marketing is not an area you want to cut right now. Especially when it comes to potentially missing the opportunity to increase your social media engagement.
According to SocialBakers, the average cost per click for social media posts has dropped over 30% in the last month.
Talk about more bang for your buck! For a fraction of what it usually costs, you can generate post engagement that will pay dividends for your company in the future. These new connections with future customers are invaluable, and it is only logical to use this time to create them. While business is slow, consider re-purposing some money and putting it toward boosting your social media posts. On average, it costs about $0.25 to reach 1,000 people on Facebook. Imagine how many you could reach by dedicating an entire portion of your budget to it!
Be fiscally responsible, but don’t fall into the trap of believing that money spent on marketing during a pandemic is wasted. Right now is a better time than ever to put money into your social media.
5. Be selfless.
For a business, selflessness may seem ill-advised under the current circumstances. You could argue that now, more than ever, is a time to tighten up on spending and cut back on any unnecessary activity. This, however, is one of the top ways to lose your customers’ loyalty and support. If customers see you penny-pinching, especially now, they will form an image of you and your brand that will ultimately be very damaging. Instead of cutbacks, it is a time for benevolence.
Going the extra mile for your customers is the best thing you can do in a COVID world. If at all possible, deliver your product or service directly to them. Post photos and videos of your customers and their gratitude for your company. Reach out to them on social media and ask about their current needs and do your best to meet those needs. Consider giving products or services away for free to those who are the most vulnerable. If your business has a manufacturing component, re-purpose a portion of it to produce essential goods like face masks and protective gloves. Be charitable. The best thing for your social media content is people, and it would benefit you to do whatever you can to go out of your way to prioritize human relationships. Your audience will appreciate it more than you can know.
These are just a few of the ways that you can maximize your social media presence during this time of renewed exposure. Above all, businesses must prioritize relationships. It is people that make up the world we live in, people that are affected by the Coronavirus, and people who must ultimately band together to fight it. This means that, in every aspect of your company’s social media efforts, maintaining human connections is the most beneficial thing you can possibly do. Your audience will appreciate it, and it will allow you to build up an image of you and your brand as people who care for people. Keep fighting, keep working, and keep loving those around you.
Our part-time college employee, Matt Phillips, put together this great blog article about the social media upsides for small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are proud of his very first blog article and hope you'll share it with other business owners!