Shaz Memon, an award-winning digital marketing expert and founder of Digimax.
With a month of lockdown behind us in the UK, I think everyone can agree that these are strange times we’re living through. Even six weeks ago, when China, Italy and Spain had swingeing isolation measures in place, the idea that Britain could come to such a standstill seemed impossible. But here we all are, finding new ways to live and new ways to work. For businesses everywhere, this has meant reevaluating all processes, either scaling back, shutting down or, in some cases, massive recruitment to cope with unprecedented demand. But there’s one important area that many companies have left unchanged, and it has the potential to seriously impact upon the future viability of business. Social media.
Why social media matters right now
Social media has been an enormous boon for business, providing a direct channel to communicate with customers – and the public at large. But at a time when the public are using platforms like Instagram more than ever before, what you do – or don’t – post can make a significant impact upon the way in which your company is perceived.
Continue to place your regular customer-hunting content – those before and after pics of your beauty therapy clients, propaganda and puffery about the importance of your new product or the need for a particular service – and you run the risk of not only being perceived as insensitive, but painfully out of touch with the zeitgeist.
You’ve worked hard to build your brand reputation. But it’s a fragile thing, and what you do now could have a lasting impact. So, how should you use Instagram and the other social media channels positively during the pandemic? And what should you avoid?
What not to post on Instagram during the Covid-19 pandemic
You’re a business. 99% of everything you usually post is self-promoting. That’s the point. But while it’s fine to let your clients know that you’re still there, you need to do this sensitively. So, tell them your operating hours, show the real-value services you can provide during this time, offer free resources – things for the kids, tips on meditation, how to keep active, stay entertained, #stayhome beauty routines. But avoid simply bigging yourself up. Right now, how great your company is, is the last thing that anyone cares about. Avoid creating an impression of arrogance while everyone else is exhibiting community focus. #we’reallinthistogether is arguably the rallying cry of Covid-19. The one way to lose all public support for your business is to buck that trend and make your Insta posts all about you.
Virus related puns
Language is a powerful thing and we all need something to laugh about as the world goes to hell in a handbasket. But the pandemic has cost lives. People are mourning. And even those who have not been directly affected by the virus are scared. Using language that could be seen as belittling the seriousness of the situation, or making a joke out of those suffering, risks causing enormous offence.
It’s a psychological fact that what people want at times of darkness is light. Now is not the time for any form of negative coverage. You shouldn’t be dissing your competitors, even obliquely. You shouldn’t be indirectly making people feel bad about themselves – forget your ads for tooth whitening treatments and instead promote ways to ‘improve your smile at home’. Don’t highlight what people are missing, but rather inspire them to plan for the future. Criticism of any form is out. Positivity is what your customers need to hear.
How to avoid social media pandemic pitfalls
It’s probably tempting to just wrap the whole social media thing up for a bit. After all, it’s not as if you don’t have anything else to do with your time. But your customers do still want to hear from you. They want that slice of normality. They just want to hear the right things!
The thing to remember right now is that the pandemic will end. It will. Whether it burns itself out or we find a vaccine, it will end. And slowly, normality will return. And when it does, you’ll want a business to come back to. So, for the time being, forget about selling to your customers and concentrate on connecting with them. Audiences are really paying attention to what companies are saying. So, use this time to build brand awareness and customer relationships. If you can give a personal face to your business, it’s easier for your customers to relate. And if they relate, they’re more likely to be loyal. And that’s what you need for long-term survival.
Coronavirus has completely changed the global business landscape. But two things that remain integral to business success are brand image and customer communication. Through social media – Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter – you have complete control over both of these factors. So, use it wisely. Your business will be better for it.