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Social media and coronavirus – a guide for SME businesses

April 16, 2020

Never before has this generation experienced a crisis like the coronavirus pandemic. Concerns over our own health, as well as that of our families, loved ones and the general population dominate our minds. But as an SME business owner, there is the additional worry of how your business is going to survive the pandemic. Will it weather the storm?

Overnight, businesses and lives have been turned upside down. It’s the new norm for teams to work remotely, but we're also homeschooling our children or keeping the under 4’s constantly entertained while trying to work. We may have had to furlough staff and are left trying to run a business with less, or no other expertise to help. And in some businesses, income streams have suddenly disappeared. To keep going, we must innovate, dip into our reserves, or take government support

Yet the one certainty in all of this is that more people are online. There’s a craving for human connection and many of us are looking for hope. It’s a critical time to review your social media channels and strategy, but what should you do and where do you start? Here we’ve pulled together our top tips for handling social media in times of the coronavirus.

Social media during the coronavirus: 5 things for SMEs to consider

1. Don’t stop. But do take time to think and review.

There’s no reason to stop what you’re doing on social media. There may be a temptation to say nothing or be quiet. But now, more than ever, customers want to know where you stand. So pause and reflect on your position as a business, figure out what’s important and adapt your strategy.

2. Revisit your customer segments

Take some time to think how your target customers are affected by the coronavirus. Listen in to what they’re saying on your social channels and communities. What’s life like for them at the moment? What are they thinking? What are their pain points? Things may have changed for them, so consider how your product or service addresses their current needs.

3. Review your tone of voice and content

Now is not the time to peddle a sales pitch. Don’t be too pushy with your content, but do continue to engage in humble conversation. Ensure your tone is human and your posts demonstrate empathy and compassion. Be reassuring, be warm. Be honest.

Be upfront about the subject of the coronavirus, don’t ignore it. Keep talking about your products or services, but be mindful and sensitive to what’s happening around you. Review any previously written posts and write new ones with the current situation (and how it's changing) in mind. Keep up with the news daily – there could be things you can respond to, need to change, or ditch altogether.

4. Show yourself

Use social media channels to show how your business is responding to Covid-19 and how you’re coping or adapting. It will reassure customers and breed positivity and hope. But get creative with it. Show the business at work – generate behind-closed-doors-type content, celebrating the people making it happen. Use video. Use stories.

5. Embrace your creativity, adding value and help

As many conventional ways of operating are forced to stop, it’s important to think creatively about how your business could adapt or pivot. Lots of businesses are having to do this to keep going. What can you do to add value to your customers or local community? A product or service development? Discounts for key workers? Delivery services directly into homes? Whatever it may be, it must be need-led and focused on providing genuine help. Avoid looking opportunistic though – customers will move away from businesses perceived as profiteering off the back of a crisis.

Covid-19 is undoubtedly a real challenge for SMEs. And while it will continue for some time, it won’t be here forever; we will evolve and it will change. Right now, people are looking for hope. By continuing to be wise in how you use social media during the coronavirus crisis, your business can navigate through it. What’s important is that you listen in, adapt and continue to engage with your customers and community.

Clare Trimnell is a marcoms and social media marketing consultant; she is part of the Hoxby community.

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