Reducing Social Distance Online: How to Market a Business During the Crisis

Irene Wind
A writer by day, a bookaholic by night, and a social media geek by nature, Irene shares only best practices in social media management.
≈ 6 min read
Upd. on: 23 Sep 2021

We are social creatures so socializing helps us survive. But we are in times when socializing has become a threat—we need to keep a social distance for now. Luckily, there are ways to reduce this distance without taking risks. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has already provoked a new spike in digitalization. In China, daily time spent online rose from 6.1 hours in early January to 7.3 hours when workers were placed in self-quarantine. What can’t be done offline has gone online. It’s time to make marketing decisions to prevent this transformation from turning into a disadvantage for your or your clients’ businesses.

Join our Emergency Marketing Center to learn more about marketing for your industry during the crisis.

First of all, it’s about redefining products and services. Of course, the format depends on the type of industry you’re working in. Retailers are investing their time or hiring e-commerce experts to improve their online stores, making them easy-to-navigate and client-oriented. Food and restaurants are switching to contactless serving and organizing delivery. Chinese grocery retailer reported that its online sales grew 215% during a 10-day period between late January and early February. 

Fitness and sports, as well as educational and coaching businesses are creating open online courses. Events are going online, too. As a result, the digital world is becoming quite a crowded place. Marketing agencies who serve small and medium businesses should be prepared to help out, as their clients urgently need relevant marketing campaigns to keep up with the situation. 

Digital is the only channel businesses have to keep in touch with their customers and clients, and here’s where digital marketing comes in. It’s not the thing to skimp on during the crisis. eMarketer expects total media ad spending worldwide will reach $691.70 billion, up by 7% from 2019, per its updated forecast. 

Keeping up with the challenges and communicating your message via marketing channels can help your business survive. And social media is one of the main marketing channels. Amanda Lee Bayer from Social Your Biz agency shared her experience:

“Social Your Biz has scaled down a bit and now with restaurants forced to close in the US, I’m fearing it will be changing even more. Social media communication is critical to our clients right now, both for peace of mind, but also to ensure that we take care of one another.”

According to Business Insider, 2020 will be a peak year in terms of time spent on social media. People are locked inside their homes, but they still need to communicate. They want to exchange ideas and support each other. You need to be quick and creative to provide what they’re seeking.

First of all, let your clients know what you are doing for them during the pandemic, whether it’s working remotely, creating an app for delivery, or offering free access to your courses. Secondly, you need to be responsive and show you’re ready to solve the challenges your clients are facing during this crisis. And last but not least—you show that you have a strong position. Digital marketing channels have got you covered when it comes to these four things.

How to use marketing channels to communicate with customers 

  • Make social media announcements

When changes and restrictions occur so fast that there’s no time to keep up with them, become an island of certainty for your clients. Show them you know what you’re doing and you’re open for them, at least in terms of communication. Make social media announcements concerning your working hours, remote work, and new terms of service. None of the challenges presented by the current situation should become an obstacle for you to be there for your clients. Turn social media into a customer support platform.

You can also run ads to make them visible to as many people in the area as possible. They won’t go unnoticed, especially if you did a good job with creatives. It will be a significant plus to your brand image. 

If you own some of your revenue as an affiliate, you might also like to check this article.

  • Update your listings

Don’t forget to add changes in your work schedule to Google My Business, Yelp, Apple Maps, Bing Local, etc. so that your customers can find current information while googling your store or cafe.

  • Send emails and messages

Social media announcements are a must, but personal communications can’t be neglected. Send newsletters to your customers to show them you care and are ready to support their needs.

  • Update your site

In case users search for your company organically and visit your website, show them you’re on top of the situation. They need to know where to find additional information—add popups, sidebars leading to the corresponding page. This will attract their attention and help them figure things out considering their planned interactions with your product.

How to get people involved with your content

While staying at home, people are trying to keep track of what’s going on, so they are continuously searching content on social media. In China, the usage of Douyin (Chinese TikTok) reportedly grew by 102%. Make your content worth such attention. It can be video content covering things people are missing because of the quarantine. Or educational content that contains life-saving tips considering COVID-19. It will be much appreciated.

Keep in mind that content has to be relevant. Don’t automate too much, as the situation changes every hour and what you considered a good idea last evening may be totally irrelevant today. Review your scheduling calendar and make sure there are no event announcements or openings planned.

Also, your content may inspire people to support your business. By giving people valuable content you make them more likely to give you something in exchange, like buying a gift certificate that can be used after the crisis. You can simply ask them—in times of crisis people show generosity, and this will help you build a community around your brand.

How to use employee advocacy

Hard times are a good opportunity to develop a feeling of belonging. Don’t leave your team without support, either. As a business owner, you’re responsible for their safety and well-being. And it’s their right to share in what the company advocates for during the pandemic. As a marketing director, you should realize employees’ social media profiles are what speak for your company’s reputation most, especially now, when the stakes are so high.

Many online companies have already implemented such a strategy and their employees are sharing motivational pictures of their home offices. It’s up to you to encourage your employees to do the same.

Decide on the official company position and create messaging your employees will be proud to spread. It needs a consistent tone of voice, facts, and evidence. These could be photos showing how you sanitize your kitchen if you’re a restaurant that organizes delivery, or screenshots of online conferences with your team, where everyone showed their home office. Just keep your branding consistent.

To make it easier for employees to share the message, provide them with everything they might need: official company statements, a hub with relevant content.

We at PromoRepublic are working remotely. It’s our conscious decision and corporate responsibility, which must not be an obstacle to providing you with excellent products and services. We are always online in case you have any questions or need support. We understand what you’re going through, so we have an option for you to extend your trial and stay with us longer at no additional cost. Also, you can share your thoughts about the pandemic and support your community by using our post templates with relevant visuals. 

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