Social Media Tips for Local Businesses during COVID-19
As we continue dealing with the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and Wisconsin’s Safer at Home order here in Oshkosh, it’s more important than ever for local businesses to stay connected to customers, employees, and their brand supporters. One of the best ways to stay connected and engage your audience during this time is with social media. People from around the world are spending more time on their phones and on their favorite social channels. They are using various social platforms to share their coronavirus experiences, read important health updates, and find some distractions and moments of fun and connection while social distancing at home. In fact, reports show there were nearly 20 million mentions of coronavirus-related terms on March 11 alone. With so many posts and so much uncertainty, the challenge for small, local businesses and their marketing teams right now are to break through the social media noise with relevant, timely, and helpful content. As a small business in the Fox Cities, we understand exactly how tough that is — it’s not easy in the best of times and it’s especially difficult when resources and budgets are limited. So, what can you do? We’ve put together some of our top social media tips, best practices, and strategies to help our neighbors here in Oshkosh and throughout the Fox Valley who are running local businesses make an impact on social media until we see the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Why social media is so important in today’s uncertain environment
If you’re not already convinced, let’s talk a little bit about why it’s important to be active and engaging on social media, especially right now. We know time and budgets are limited, but here are just a few reasons why you shouldn’t let your social strategy fall to the backburner during times of crisis.
- It’s important to keep your customers, employees, and other brand ambassadors up to date with what’s going on with your business and share how your products and services are making a difference during this time. Social media platforms provide an effective way to do that.
- As noted above, people are connecting and spending time together digitally, especially during this time of self-isolation. It makes sense that that trend will continue and your brand should be present where your customers are. Facebook reported that total messaging has increased more than 50% over the last month and they’ve seen up to 70% more time spent across their apps in areas hit hardest by the crisis, like Italy.
- In general, small businesses want to keep building brand awareness that will carry through when we get to the other side of this quarantine. Consistent engagement via social platforms allows you to continue building relationships with customers, even when your storefront may be closed or you can’t connect face-to-face. That way, your brand remains top of mind when we return to “business as usual” (or at least close to it).
What content is important on social media right now?
Ok, now that we’ve talked about why it’s important to be sharing on social media right now, you may be wondering what exactly your company should be sharing on your social platforms right now. Here’s what we recommend:
- Changes in hours of operation. Be sure your social platforms reflect your current hours of operation. If you are open for business or providing essential services during this time, you want your followers to know!
- Changes in services. Your storefront may be closed due to quarantine and “stay at home” orders, but a lot of businesses are able to offer products and services online. If that’s you, be sure you’re clearly letting customers know what you have to offer during this time. For example, we’ve seen everything from arts organizations like The Grand Oshkosh creating online-only performances to restaurants like ZaRonis delivering toilet paper along with their pizza and offering “groceries in a box.”
- How your organization is responding. Being upfront about how your business is responding to the pandemic, including how you’re sanitizing your facility, following health and government recommendations, and keeping your customers and employees safe is crucial during this time.
- Relevant and official health updates. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organizations, and other medical and government organizations, including Governor Tony Evers, are putting out updates regarding Coronavirus and COVID-19 daily. Consider sharing these updates and localizing, as they apply to your business or industry.
- Community news and updates. What’s happening right here in the Fox Cities is just as important as what’s happening on a larger scale. Sharing information and engaging with our local resources — such as the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce, Visit Oshkosh, and other local organizations — across social is important if you’re a locally-focused business and looking to connect with customers, business partners, and others in the Fox Cities area.
- Local details. Now is a great time to make sure your social profiles are optimized for local. That includes your phone number, address, services, and service area. That way, as potential new customers are searching for local businesses in the Oshkosh area, you’re easy to find.
What FREE tools do brands have at their disposal to make this all easier?
While keeping up with your social media, especially when your staff, budget, and time are already stretched thin, it can be overwhelming. Here are some of our favorite free tools that can save you time on social media and make sharing important updates about COVID-19 easier and more efficient.
- Canva. This is our favorite free visual/graphic design tool. They have tons of free templates your business can use, including ones specifically designed around the current pandemic.
- Stock photo sites. These can come in handy if you need some good photos or videos in a pinch and shooting in person isn’t an option due to working remotely and social distancing. Some of our favorites include Unsplash, Pexels, Pixabay, and StockSnap.
- Google Analytics. This is an important tool for driving your social strategy. The data can help you figure out how much traffic you’re getting from social media and help you determine where to spend the most energy and money. Many of the social platforms also include free built-in analytics and data tools that can also help you see better success on social. If you’re not using them, you should be.
- Scheduling tools. If you’re stretched for time and need to keep your social channels up to date, scheduling tools can come in handy. There are plenty out there, but Hootsuite is one we use a lot here. You can schedule tweets, LinkedIn posts, and other updates even when you’re away from the computer screen. Many platforms, like Facebook, also have built-in scheduling capabilities. As you get a bit of time to write content, you can schedule it out to last. You should still be checking in for questions and comments regularly, but you can write your content in bulk and schedule it out, to get that crossed off your to-do list!
If you’re wondering how to best navigate social media right now, the team at E/Power can help. We’ve called Oshkosh home for more than 20 years. We live and work here, which means we want to see local businesses thrive. As we’re all slowing down, spending more time at home, and reflecting on how we can help, we want to put our digital marketing expertise to work for our neighbors. If you have questions about digital marketing, we’re here to offer our digital marketing advice. We’ll offer the best insights we can — at no charge and with no future obligations! Let’s get through this together.