First and foremost: we’re all in this together. We know we’re not the only ones who feel worried during this uncertain time. Working from home while people are practicing social distancing, in isolation, or even in quarantine can bring its own challenges, and adding marketing to that can be STRESSFUL! Soooo…what happens now? We’re in an unprecedented time in the world. There is so much that we don’t know and being a small business owner, while generally very rewarding, is really scary. Watching the trickle-down effect that COVID-19 has had on the economy and businesses everywhere is leaving a lot of us in a panic. DON’T WORRY! We’re here to help you think through how to run your social media channels while keeping in mind that the world is going through a crisis. Keeping your audience and your clients informed should be at the top of your list. Creating a supportive brand image will help you come out of this stronger and better than ever. While you should always be striving to have a healthy rapport with your followers, it is times like these when it matters most. Followers that trust you and check-in with you are worth their weight in gold! We have 7 steps to help you navigate the internet right now!
The first step is to accept that social media is an efficient way to communicate, and embrace it. As of now, it looks like we are all going to be homebound for a few weeks, which means social media is one of our main avenues for getting our message out quickly and efficiently. People are feeling isolated (ourselves included) and need connection more than ever! Ask yourself what you can provide during times like these and go do it! Comment on local businesses’ posts! Respond to those DMs! Ask questions in your Instagram Stories. ENGAGE! When you’re scrolling, a photo is a single second out of your day. People are looking for hope and inspiration more than ever. It is time to show up.
Don’t Stay Silent
People don’t have the time or energy to reach out to you – so SHARE how they can help. It is ok to say, “I run a small business and things are uncertain – here are 3 ways to help.” Your voice matters and no one can advocate for your business better than you! This is not the time to disappear from the internet. People are logged on and plugged in more than ever (helllllo, boredom) which means you can really extend your reach. We suggest trying to write your captions like you are speaking to a friend. We are in a unique time where we are all experiencing the same thing, so, in some ways, your audience is more universal than ever. Take advantage of Facebook and Instagram ads and promote any services that you can provide remotely. Use those corona hashtags. We know that it sounds trivial right now, but people are looking at them! Before you post ask yourself:
- Who is this serving?
- What is the purpose?
- Why does it matter to anyone else?
It is ok to say how you are feeling and discuss your business right now, but we do have a few major don’ts!
- Don’t publicly blame anyone for the spread (ie. media)
- Don’t speculate about unknown facts (ie. sharing uninformed/illegitimate articles about the situation.)
- Don’t ignore the impact of the crisis on employees or the community
Watch your language! The words we attach to our experience shape our experience. So how can we be talking about what we are walking through without negative language?
- ie: hearing the word “anxiety” makes your audience feel more anxious, so try using words like “uneasy” or “uncertain”
- Find the positive when you can
- Try to create relief not stress
- BE HONEST in your communications—it really is the best policy
- Create content you want to read. If you finish a caption and don’t care about it then there is a good chance your audience won’t either.
Rethink Your Content
This is one of those times where keeping on top of your brand photography really pays off! We challenge you to go back through your past photoshoots to source images and make them new again. We understand more than anyone that fresh content is so important when it comes to your brand. But with everything that’s happened, photoshoots across the board have been postponed and no one has new content coming out. And if they do, then they surely aren’t practicing their social distancing 😉 Stock images are also a great option! We love Pexels for free images. Or stretch out content by making your own graphics in an app like Canva or use Illustrator if you’re more advanced. Make sure you are adding in your brand elements (your logo, icons, or color palette) if you are using a pre-made template to create consistency. One way we are repurposing content for our client The Inspiration Lab is using photos from their “Analog August” branding shoot last year. We happened to have a full gallery of in-home images that we have been able to repurpose to fit with quarantine and social distancing content on their Instagram feed. It’s ok to acknowledge that they might not be new photos OR if you don’t have access to any photos – it may be time to create your own. Go check out our iPhone photography guide.
Give Yourself Room to be Creative
There is so much work to be done in the waiting. It feels uncomfortable and scary but here are things you can do in the wait. Pull out those coffee table books, phone a friend, or grab your journal. Try out any medium that changes your perspective, then experiment! Now is a time to try out new approaches to marketing your business on social media. Are you a stylist? A great idea is to try out TikTok! Put together outfits on yourself and share! Let your audience see your closet! People spend a lot of time in pre-contemplation before they decide to pull the trigger and make a purchase. A great way to get in front of people at a low cost is to make yourself the customer. Start with a messy closet pic and then go through the full process of what a closet makeover looks like on your Instagram stories! Boost engagement by asking questions and definitely include try-ons because everyone loves a Clueless moment. This is a great time to talk about what you are keeping and why / upcoming trends. No matter what industry you are in, try thinking about what you are looking for right now and then apply it to your business. What could you be promoting or offering? Then get it all in order! Now is the time to equip yourself with a foundation so that when your business hits the “busy”ness, you’re ready.
Listen to Your Audience
Now is not the time to blindly talk “at” your audience without listening and responding to them. This will undermine their trust in you and your company as a whole. One way to really engage your audience and ease their concerns is to address things head-on! Do you find yourself answering the same question(s) over and over again? Great! This is the time to respond to what they are continuously asking. You can create a graphic that works as a FAQ. For example, are you are a restaurant with 20 DMs about how to support you or place an order? If the answer is yes then you are not being clear enough with your audience. You should take the time to make a clear guide of how you are serving customers right now.
Switch Your Pitch
Not sure what to post this week? Feel icky about selling your services when a pandemic is happening? Worried that your business will go under if you don’t post? So is everyone else. We are in international waters, y’all! And it is all new and uncharted territory. We know that it feels overwhelming. Feeling frozen when it comes time to post? We recommend that you be as honest as you can with your audience without sacrificing your integrity. A general rule to follow is: your audience is more like your boyfriend’s mom and less like your BFF. Try a different approach! Having a strategy doesn’t mean you are conniving! You don’t have to be selling if it feels icky, instead, you can ask yourself how can you create value right now. If you are working from home then you could show the behind-the-scenes of your work. Let your audience really get to know you! Artists- this is great for you! Create an “At Home” series and share the creative process from start to finish on your story. Or if you have special online services that people can take advantage of – tell people! It’s important to be sensitive to what is going on right now, but you gotta eat! Below are a few ways to incorporate a sales pitch without being insensitive.
A few caption suggestions:
“It’s a scary time to be a business owner, no one knows what the future looks like but all we can do is focus on today. Thank you for your continued support of my business through the years, we will get through this stronger than ever. While I am not currently offering ____ – I am _____”
“I know it isn’t the ideal time to _____, but we are reminded that in moments of hardship you must find the light (or something in your voice). I’ve been working on a new website for months and it is finally here! And we want to grab onto anything that brings us joy during these uncertain times.”
“We don’t know about you, but we are definitely spending more time in front of the news than in front of the camera these days! Staying connected with your followers is more important than ever but we know that in these uncertain times it can be a struggle to find the motivation to do anything, let alone find the right photo to post. Give yourself a break! This is a great time to dig into the archives and reuse photos from past photoshoots OR to get handy with your iPhone. Head over to our website for a post on maximizing your iPhone photos!”
^here is one we used! Our goal was to connect with our audience while also directing them to our blog.
Logoff When You Feel Overwhelmed
Don’t prioritize productivity right now! This is not the end. This is not the end for small businesses. This is testing us to see what kind of results we can make. You should take a break when it all feels like too much and come back when you are ready!
Drewe and Kate