A Platform-Specific Social Media Guide for Small Businesses Hit By COVID-19
By: Julia Angelen Joy
June 18, 2020
As small businesses attempt to find their footing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, social media has proved invaluable for engaging with customers in real time.
Edelman’s March 2020 Trust Barometer found that 84 percent of brands use social media channels to facilitate a sense of community and offer social support to customers. Furthermore, one in three consumers say they will not purchase products or services from a brand that doesn’t respond well to the crisis. It is as imperative as ever to approach social media with creativity, thoughtfulness and purpose.
Here is a list of top social platforms and their individual utility for businesses in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
At the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, Facebook offered $100M in cash grants and ad credits to small businesses. More recently, the platform made a big push for online shopping, allowing businesses to set up free storefronts. Businesses can now use Shops to feature individual items, advertise them to users and communicate with customers via direct message.
A brief case study: In addition to leveraging Facebook Shops, Jeff Moriarty of custom jewelry store Moriarty’s Gem Art in Crown Point, IN, aimed to use Facebook get the word out about his reopening plan. So, Moriarty uploaded his customer email list as a Custom Audience. If existing customers are not already Facebook followers (but are Facebook users), Moriarty’s shop can now advertise to them via their Facebook-associated email address. This will allow the shop to reach a majority of its customer base for reopening updates. In addition, Facebook Live videos have helped Moriarty boost customer engagement organically.
Like parent company Facebook, Instagram has pushing its e-commerce offerings and recently launched Support Small Business stickers as a way to bolster businesses that are suffering as a result of the pandemic. Posting daily Instagram Stories can also help your business stay top of mind while it’s shuttered. Digital strategist Meara McNitt notes the benefit of Action Buttons, which allow customers to shop and order gift cards in-app, reducing friction for new and loyal customers alike.
LinkedIn has launched a Virtual Events tool for creating and broadcasting video events. The feature can take the place of in-person events and even help connect employees, sharing in real time how they’re staying productive and sane in lockdown. When used in tandem, employee-generated virtual events and Linkedin Live video can boost your business profile’s engagement and help your staff stay connected and project-oriented while physically distant.
If you have not used the blogging site Medium, Kirill Rebrov, CEO of marketing tech firm Demografy says now is an optimal time to explore the platform. With its vast pool of readers, publications and followers in different markets, publishing articles can boost your small business’ reach even if it is currently out of commission.
As a user-driven and community-focused social media platform, Reddit is the place to be if you’re able to provide useful online assistance to potential customers, says Malte Scholz, CEO of software company Airfocus. Be warned: If you post salesy or spammy content, you will be booted off of subreddits faster than you can say “Click here!” Still, genuinely helpful content can build a direct connection to customers before you reopen.
With over 500 million active users worldwide and more than 1 billion downloads, TikTok has drawn a loyal following of millennial and Gen Z users. By next year, it’s predicted that Gen Z will make up a large portion of the workforce, resulting in a surge in their spending power. An emphasis on humorous and emotional marketing has helped businesses woo TikTok users; that said, marketers should not be afraid to get sentimental in troubling times, says Karen Ngai, digital PR officer at SEO firm Click Consult. The platform is ideal for entertaining your customer base while stuck at home.
Twitter offers a unique place to connect with journalists as well as customers, and allows for highly targeted link and topic search (with hashtags). The platform is useful for listening, too, which is key to understanding what customers are looking for as businesses shift their models to suit the new status quo.
While your brick-and-mortar is in limbo, Bernie Wong, founder of social media agency Social Stand, suggests converting blog content into quality videos. People use YouTube’s search feature more than in other social platforms, so if it’s a fit for your business, be sure to offer useful and helpful DIY content to potential customers that will remember your assistance come reopening.
A few final, platform-agnostic tips for revamping and refocusing your social media strategy in an uncertain time:
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes if your company has not prioritized social media prior to this crisis. Experiment and see what works.
- Create a content calendar, focused on topics that speak to your business strengths.
- Post timely news, relevant to your business, that your peers and audience are talking about.
- Be sure to post frequently, particularly on the platforms where you are already seeing momentum.
Follow Julia: @JuliaAngelenPR