As the U.S. grapples with our new reality fighting COVID-19, it puts things in perspective. What we need, what we want, and how we should carry on are all questions Memphians are asking themselves. This is a very scary time for brands. Companies in most verticals have seen a real slowdown in traffic and sales. As we come to terms with a new normal, the way we leverage marketing channels needs to shift.
With more and more people stuck at home and scrolling on social media, it is a prime channel to use to connect to your audience. However, the social media strategy that worked for you pre-coronavirus social distancing will need to shift. If your brand has nothing to say, it may make sense to go dark on all channels. But if you want to continue to engage with your audience, we recommend following the tips below.
Be open about where you are in this crisis. We are not maintaining the status quo, and everyone knows that. It would be inauthentic for your brand to pretend that the world is normal around them. Let your audience know where your company is and what they can expect moving forward. Let them know that you understand things are not normal and that you are in the trenches with them.
For small and local businesses, be as helpful as you can. Let them know about local resources or even provide some yourself. Are you a restaurant? Promote your to-go options. Show people how to make delicious food at home. Are you a shop? Tell your audience how they can still see your items online or through personal delivery. Share how they can support local vendors and find ways to entertain them by walking them through how your shop operates. If you’re an artisan, show people a craft they can do that lines up with your brand.
STAY ON BRAND
With such a shift in content, it can be easy to stray from your brand message and principles. Don’t. If anything, this is a time to let your brand shine. Go deeper with your audience on what your brand stands for and what your mission is. Now is a great time to dive into your core values as consumers are all getting deeper in touch with their own. Even though you may be changing the content mix, you want to keep your messaging on brand so that people can recognize you before and after this crisis.
At this point, most people don’t know what the future will hold or what we should expect. Temper your expectations for social media. It is unfortunately unlikely that you will be able to shift your business completely virtual and maintain the same level of sales. What is realistic, however, is that you will acquire new customers and develop a deeper, more loyal relationship with your current customer base. You should also be realistic about the realities and emotions people are experiencing. Whether you want to dive head-first into that or be an escape is a decision you need to make.
STRIVE FOR CONNECTION
As we all do our part to keep physical social distance, people are going to turn to social media and other platforms to meet their need for interaction. Make your brand a place to do that. Whether through discussion threads, Instagram/Facebook Live videos, or a Facebook group, work to create a space for your audience to find community and support.
These five principles are a guide on how to navigate social media during this ever-evolving crisis. As things continue to change, you may need to re-evaluate your message and approach. The important thing is to be present – show up for your audience, and they will appreciate you more on the other side.
This article originally appeared on the Greater Memphis Chamber Momentum Blog.