We’re in uncharted territory as COVID-19 spreads. Small business owners are in a panic wondering if they’ll have customers, grappling with the decision to stay open or to close – and whether or not it’s appropriate to market your business.
My strategy for small business social media during these strange times is morphing almost every day, and life is changing day-to-day as well. As I’m writing this, it’s March 12, and NBA games, schools, March Madness and more are canceled, kicking off an unprecedented early spring season. I work with a wide variety of small business from retail to hospitality, and one thing that’s been helpful is I’ve been keeping an eye on what comparable businesses are doing in hot zones that appear to be weeks ahead of DC’s spread, such as Seattle.
Here are a few thoughts I’ve had for you to consider as you post for your business:
1) Take things day by day
2) Seriously think about your clientele and followers and how they might feel about your posts. Today, an older clientele might be baffled that your business is still promoting wine night, while a younger clientele may be relieved you’re still open.
3) Offer alternatives and/or promote alternatives to your clients, like curbside pickup, carry out, complimentary local delivery, etc.
4) Consider beefing up your online inventory if you’re a brick-and-mortar with a website.
5) Double check that certain events are still going on. For example, the DC St. Patrick’s Day Parade is canceled, so don’t promote drink specials “before and after the parade.”
6) Businesses should not joke about the coronavirus. This should be taken very seriously.
7) A few days ago, I advised against language that reassured customers that you’re deep cleaning and sanitizing your store/restaurant/salon etc. A lot has changed in just a few short days and now I think it’s totally appropriate for many businesses to share this information.
8) Consider whether it is appropriate to be open and think hard about what you’re posting on social media as the spread progresses.
9) …and at the same time, remember that people will be on social media MUCH more as we collectively hunker down. This could be a great opportunity to remain engaged with your followers.