Without getting political, covid has absolutely blindsided many Australian small businesses. While feelings of overwhelm and extreme stress are understandable during these uncertain times, there are tools that come at little to no cost that can be utilised in order to aid in business survival. While you may be in business hibernation at the moment, it’s definitely not the time to let your marketing efforts (particularly that of your social media marketing) slide.

Throughout this article, I’m going to take you through four different strategies that you can implement right now during covid-19, as well as share three different examples of ways in which other businesses have used social media to their benefit during the pandemic.

All of which proving, that if there ever was a time for ramping up your efforts on social media, it’s now!

So, without further ado, let’s dive in!

Social Media Marketing Tip #1 – KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

For anyone who may be familiar with my work, you’ll know that literally everything I work on always comes back to this question –

how well do you know your audience?

Unsurprisingly, it’s the first tip that I’m offering up in this blog – yippee! 

But really, seriously. In any social media marketing, or any strategy related to your business, understanding your audience/knowing them innately is absolutely crucial to your success in curating the right message. Now, more than ever, knowing your audience – their struggles and pain points, questions and queries, wins and things they enjoy – and how you can add value to them as a brand is imperative.

Here’s where social media comes in handy. While you’ve possibly got spare time on your hands during lockdown, use your social media page/s as a listening tool (this should also be practiced regularly as part of your social media management); take the time to listen to your online community and gauge how they are feeling. Read their comments and ask them questions about what they want to see from you during this time. Sounds simple, and it is. In fact, it’s actionable right now! Starting right after this call, or first thing tomorrow morning, set aside 10 minutes per day to communicate and connect with your audience. Ask them the questions that will help you in knowing how you can best address their needs and concerns.

While the purpose of this task right now is for the benefit of your social media presence, this notion of knowing your audience should really form the basis of every strategy you put in place for your business – one that’s got foundations in empathy and matches your community needs.

Before: How can I serve my audience with the right product/service at a time when they’re ready to buy?
Now: How can I support my community and build rapport so that when my audience are ready to buy again, I’m their first choice

SIMILAR CONTENT: How to Humanise Your Brand to Build Trust

Social Media Marketing Tip #2 – Review and Reschedule

While you may already have a social media content plan in place (which is great!), It’s important that you remain agile and review your planned posts and activity, particularly given the current situation.

If you schedule your social posts in advance, it’s worth revisiting your calendar or scheduling tool to make sure what you’ve got planned is up-to-date, contextual and sensitive to current goings-on. Be mindful of everything – from copy to tone of voice and subject matter to visual imagery. For example, hard sales-y posts or lighthearted happy-go-lucky messaging might not resonate too well with your audience in the current climate.

Given how quickly circumstances are changing at the moment, it’s a good idea to review any planned social media content weekly, or even daily, to ensure that your content is timely and appropriate.

Before: What should my social media calendar look like for the next three months?
Now: What should my SM calendar look like for the next week? Or, has something happened today that could affect my current plan?

Social Media Marketing Tip #3 – Relationships > Money

There’s no denying it, these are challenging times for everyone. If you’re concerned about the financial health of your business, you’re not alone! However, rather than focusing on revenue building and growth (especially when the economy is also hibernating and people are less likely to spend), switch your focus to relationship building.

Rather than focusing on a ‘close the deal’ mindset, think about the ways in which you can connect with and support your online community. This could be as simple as offering info about your current operations while in lockdown and your plans for the near future, or a chance to engage with your followers on a more personal level, through virtual experiences, storytelling, thought leadership and humor… AKA your human elements. While we’ve been trained into thinking business sells, at the end of the day, we are humans, selling to humans – use that to your advantage!

Additionally, actively engaging with your audience (even outside of covid times) will help you to forge longer-term relationships and build brand awareness – both of which will put you in a strong future position.

Before: Does my SM strategy help in selling my product/service and/or help to grow my customer base?
Now: Does my SM strategy educate or entertain my audience to help make them brand advocates?

Social Media Marketing Tip #4 – Re-evaluate Success

For many businesses, the standard metrics used for measuring success are leads, conversions and ROI. However, given the current economic climate, these metrics might not be relevant indicators of whether your social efforts are working or not.

As priority has shifted to focusing on how your messaging demonstrates empathy, provides support and builds relationships, consider tracking success with metrics such as engagement rate, shares, saves and comments.

Before: How many sales or leads have I acquired through SM?
Now: Is my audience actively engaging with my content? And is it being viewed favourably?

SIMILAR CONTENT: Organic Vs Paid Social Media – What’s the Difference and Why Is It Important for Small Businesses?

What Other Businesses Have Done – 3 Ways Businesses Have Used Social Media to Pivot Their Business Throughout Covid-19

Hopefully those Social media marketing tips proved helpful to you and your business! The great thing about the above tips is that they are all actionable and within reach to you right now. If anything, we’re being presented the opportunity to really humanise our brands at the moment, which, in my opinion, has a greater selling pull than any expensive advertising campaign ever will.

Anywho, moving along. While the above strategies are great when implemented, I feel like I can hear you saying ‘yeah, cool Kachina, but show us how this has actually worked for others’. Over the last bit of this workshop, I’m going to run you through three social media marketing approaches that could help your business respond to or pivot in the current covid-19 climate. 

Launching a new service to respond to the changing environment eg, online shopping, delivery etc

As the population started entering into national lockdowns with strict stay at home orders in place, it became increasingly important that businesses adjust their offerings to help their customers engage with their brand from home. This meant making purchases online, with a simple and convenient process and home delivery, whilst also remaining available and affordable, but most importantly, contact-free.

A great way to promote new offerings is, you guessed it – social media! Depending on budget, using both paid and/or organic posts can be super effective. Using paid social media advertising is great as you can really knuckle down on your targeting, however, a good organic post strategy can also prove to be super successful as well.

As a reiteration of what we discussed earlier with regards to prioritising helping your customers, recent research has shown that it is important that brands craft their advertising to focus on how your business can help people cope in the current situation. So, avoid hard-selling, and focus more on how your products and services can help people through what’s going on at the moment.

RELATED CONTENT: Social Media Marketing for Small Businesses: Top 3 Tips for a Successful Social Media Strategy

Using social media to increase engagement and build a strong online brand community while your business is in hibernation

As we also mentioned earlier, now is certainly not the time to let your efforts on social media fall by the wayside! If anything, now’s the time to be increasing your social media activities in order to help and entertain your audience while they are stuck at home. Creating helpful content to show your audience how they can get by at home until they can use your products/service again is one of the best ways that you can strengthen your customer relations.

For example, if you own a cafe or restaurant, sharing recipes is an example of helpful content; or home workouts if you own a gym, or home treatments if you own a beauty salon. Obviously, whatever content you choose to share, it needs to be relevant and appropriate to your business.

Some other ideas for creating engaging content could also be competitions, whereby your audience have to share a video of them doing a particular task (an exercise, recipe creation etc). Creating little pieces of content like this are beneficial to both you and your audience, as you get growing brand awareness, and your customers are provided with a fun and useful experience while at home.

Utilising the time we have now to ramp up your efforts on social media is an effective way to pass the time and is great for strengthening your existing customer relationships, as well as forging new ones.

Plan your relaunch ready for when the current COVID-19 restrictions ease

While it’s almost impossible to know what is around the corner these days, I would still recommend that you have a relaunch strategy prepared and up your sleeve for when restrictions are finally eased. If anything, these past 18 months have demonstrated that change can happen really quickly; we need to be agile. For all we know, restrictions could be lifted just as quickly as businesses were forced to close. 

Creating a marketing communication strategy with a strong focus on social media is a good tactic to have ready to go as soon as Gladys gives us the green light.

If you’d like to learn other ways that you can market your business, download our FREE eBook ‘Level Up Your Marketing on a Small Budget‘.