The Importance of Using Social Media During the Pandemic
We live in a whole new world of marketing. Between the pandemic, social unrest, and political turmoil everyone is scrambling to redefine how to market their products and themselves. Social media has become a communication lifeline for businesses during the pandemic. This “new normal” has caused us to make major changes in marketing to customers and businesses alike.
The following statistics were cited by Kelsey McDeon, Senior Staff Writer @ Clutch.com, “we surveyed 500 small business owners and managers in the U.S. to understand how they use social media and develop a useful framework for small businesses navigating a global pandemic”:
· 34% measure engagement metrics such as likes, comments, and shares to determine the success of their social media strategies.
· 1 in 3 post to social media at least once every day, which could increase as stay-at-home orders cause people to spend time inside and online.
· 76% use images on social media.
· 85% run social media accounts in-house, and 78% of those small businesses have employees who manage social media in addition to other responsibilities.
· 91% use Facebook and 49% use Instagram. Those platforms have implemented features such as stickers to help small businesses increase online visibility.
Mike Kappel, Contributer @ Forbes.com, in his article, Marketing Your Business In The Midst Of Covid-19: 5 Tips To Stay Afloat, suggests the following:
1. Reassure Your Customers. Your customers are your business’s number one fans. Without them, you would not be the successful business you are today. In a time with so much uncertainty, you need to reassure your customers that you are there for them and that your business is stable. To inform your customers about how you are responding to the coronavirus you can: send out email updates, post regularly on social media, and/or include information in customer accounts. Reassuring your customers that everything is going to be OK is a must during this pandemic. Your customers will appreciate the updates and your sensitivity toward the situation. When reassuring your customers, keep a calm tone, a positive message, and relevant language. Remember to include how they can contact you if they have any questions.
2. Get Creative. This coronavirus age is not the time to fall back on your old marketing strategies. It is a time to take risks and be creative with your marketing tactics. When it comes to marketing your business during coronavirus, the more creative you are, the better. Having a unique way to market your products or services makes you stand out from your competition. For starters, you can promote unique offerings, like DIY kits and care packages to get customers flying through your doors. You can also offer virtual options to customers, like online classes, meetings, and showcases.
3. Kick Things Up On Social. Even before the coronavirus started, social media was king. As of 2019, a whopping 79% of Americans had social-media profiles. That number continues to grow as more people go virtual during the pandemic. To market your company in the middle of the coronavirus, take your strategies to social media. It is primetime to promote your business offerings online. To market your business on social, be active, and present. Ideas include: start or join conversations, utilize sponsored posts and/or paid advertisements, post more frequently, have an online contest, keep your customers in the loop with store updates, and promote special or limited-time offerings. Social media is a great way for you to create buzz about your business, and it is relatively inexpensive.
4. Build Relationships Virtually. Building relationships is one of those things that can be easier said than done, especially when you are trying to build them online versus in-person. To best market your business in the midst of coronavirus, you have to embrace building and strengthening relationships with your customers online and put yourself in their shoes. What would you want to see and hear from a business? How would you feel if faced with one of your own business-marketing communications? Keep open, honest, and considerate communication going. If you currently don’t have a regular cadence of communication with your customers, now is the time to start (think email marketing campaigns). When communicating and connecting with customers during the coronavirus, be empathic, genuine, and thoughtful. The more you connect with your customers and get a feel for who they are, the better you can market to them in the future.
5. Improve Your Online Presence. With the coronavirus in full swing and more and more people hopping on the online bandwagon, there is no better time to work on your business’s online presence. Having a strong online presence can help you build your brand and gain credibility to attract new customers. It makes your business information more readily accessible to customers. According to one source, internet hits have surged between 50% and 70% due to the coronavirus. With so many people spending their free time online, why not take advantage of the situation? To give your business’s online presence a nice boost, you can: optimize your business website for mobile use, create valuable content, do some Search Engine Optimization (SEO) research, incorporate keywords on your website pages, engage in online communities and forums, and improve user experience. Even if you already have a top-notch online presence, there is always room for improvement.
Annie Pilon, Senior Staff Writer @ Small Business Trends, suggests the following:
· Digital Marketing During a Pandemic. During a pandemic, the sort of problems you are currently solving may change. By understanding your market and staying up to date on news in your industry, you should be well versed on the basic challenges that might impact your strategy or talking points. Once you know the problems your customers are facing, you can work backward to create your marketing communication strategy.
· Segment Customers. Many companies have multiple customer “personas” they interact with regularly. Break them into groups and dig into each one. Don’t just think about demographic information, include specific issues that your customers may be facing. For example, some may currently be more price conscious than others due to job loss.
· Communicate Clearly About Any Changes. Because of the current pandemic, many businesses are having to change how they deliver products or services to customers. Whether you are offering new products, providing alternative delivery options, or changing your hours or availability, you need to make that message clear across all of your digital channels. Making it easier for customers to do business with you and adjusting their expectations so that they are less likely to be upset if you cannot deliver the experience they have had in the past.
· Create a Seamless Customer Experience. No matter how you bring people to your website or other digital channels, the experience needs to be user-friendly so they are more likely to convert. This task can be muddled by the current pandemic, as many companies are changing to a direct-to-consumer market. Therefore, you need to create a website and online customer experience that is easy for the average consumer to use. The look may be different from the typical experience for B2B interactions.
· Capture Data From Visitors. No matter how amazing your website is, there will be some visitors who simply cannot or will not purchase from you right away. For those customers, give them a way to stay in touch or share their information, such as signing up for your email list that provides information and free offers. Hopefully you can convert them into a loyal customer once they have the means to purchase.
· Collect Data to Determine What is Working. It is difficult for small businesses to know exactly what approach is going to work in such an uncertain environment. You can come up with a hypothesis to test by collecting data and using analytics about website visits, sales, or whatever metrics are most important to your business, you can then apply the ideas that work and drop the ones that do not. This allows you to try new things on a small prototype level. Once you receive validation on an idea, you can dive in quickly with more resources.
In closing, if budget limitations are a concern, the best strategy is to focus on one or two social-media platforms rather than a reduced presence on more. The pandemic has left many business-owners spread thin. If employees are already multi-tasking, like handling email marketing in addition to their regular duties, it might be advantageous to outsource social media and invest in user-generated content. Now is the time to prioritize and elevate your company’s social-media marketing efforts. Being more strategic than ever is critical to small-business success in these less than certain times.