Written for sole traders and small organisations in these challenging times
It’s a challenging time for all of us but don’t abandon social media. The majority of people are spending far more time on social media at the moment (most of us are stuck at home!) so take advantage of this.
Think about how you can get your products/services to your customers. Can you temporarily start a delivery or online service? Can you offer customers a postal service – sending your products as gifts to friends and family who are isolated or stuck at home (customers can pay via BACS, Paypal or similar)?
Regardless of this, it is important to keep a social media presence to a) remind your customers you’re still trading and b) be ready for when this difficult period is over.
Don’t try and communicate via multiple social media platforms
Unless you are a large business, you probably do your own social media posting. Without the luxury of a dedicated marketing manager it is very likely that you can only allocate a small amount of time to this activity. Rather than opening accounts across all social media platforms, have a think about which ones are most effective for your business (see below). And keep in mind it is better to choose one platform and do it well than dilute your activity (and time) across a whole range of them.
Choose your social media platform based on your business
We really like Instagram and Facebook as they enable us to share engaging photos (especially if you are a food, crafts or drink business). Don’t discount Twitter but it is more effective for talking to other businesses and trade bodies. Often small businesses use Facebook/Instagram for talking to customers and have a personal account for Twitter to keep up to speed with industry news. Twitter is also good for business to business conversations.
Be realistic about your time
If you only have limited time to post on social media, allocate an hour each day to compose a post and answer any queries. Checking social media 24/7 is not time efficient so unless an urgent query arises, focus on quality not quantity of posting. You may find there is a good time to post during the day. For many businesses this is in the evening but at the moment you may find the afternoon engages more customers.
In these uncertain times, you should use social media to reassure customers that you are still here and trading as normal. Sit down at the beginning of the week and compose a list of ideas/posts that you can use later in the week. Do you have any new products? Has a customer sent you a photo enjoying your product that you can share? Are there any recipes you can post? Do you use any special ingredients or materials? Have you adapted your services so that it can be done remotely? Remember that people are advised to stay at home at the moment – can you offer a delivery/online service? Stress that you are following strict hygiene/contactless rules and will adhere to self-isolation/social distancing restrictions. Always include a call to action – even it is a simple ‘send us a message here for delivery details’.
Be positive and use humour
This is particularly important in the current climate. Be positive. Your customers are worried and anxious – a positive post with engaging visuals will cheer them up. Although it is fine to acknowledge world events, it is also okay to post “If you’re fed up of empty shelves in the shops, why don’t you contact us for a delivery of…..” or “Did you know that we now offer remote assistance via Skype….”. Don’t be afraid to use humour and keep your tone light.
The story behind the company
Although you might not think what you do is special (let’s face it, you do it every day!) your customers will be interested in you and your story. In addition to sharing content about your products and services, think about other interesting snippets you can share. How did you start – are there any old photos you can share of your business in the beginning? Can you share some photos of you at work? What makes your product unique – show your customers some of the processes involved in your day. They will be interested in YOU – tell them some of your backstory and why you are passionate about what you do. Who else is involved in your business – do you have any family members who help or are there other staff? This can all provide material for posts.
Photos and video
You need good photos and short video clips to accompany your posts. You don’t need to hire a professional photographer/videographer – you can take decent photos/videos on your phone. It is worth taking the time to set up your shot. Ensure there is plenty of light, think about what surrounds your product – make sure the details are clear. Use the editing tools available on your phone to adjust lighting and experiment with different filters (be consistent with your style). The basic video editing available on your phone or even via an app e.g. iMovie (very easy to use) will enable you to edit your videos. If you video yourself using your product in a recipe, you can edit it to a) shorter the sequences and b) add some text.
Interact with your customers. If someone has taken the time to tag you in a post, ensure you reply and acknowledge them. You can also use the opportunity to tell them about a special deal you are running or your new delivery service. Encourage your customers to post about your products and tag you in the post. Earlier on we suggested you allocate an hour a day to post and engage with customers. Particularly at the moment when people are distracted, this can be a subtle way to remind people you are still trading (albeit in a different way).
Measure your success
All social media platforms provide detailed analytics (for free) about how well your posts have performed. But if you don’t want to start delving into the analytical side of social media (although it does sound scarier than it is) you can tell how well a post has performed by how many people have engaged with it. Take time to see which posts perform better than others and try and replicate the ingredients for what works well. It’s okay to re-hash an old post and repeat it – maybe change the message slightly or the image.
Now is the time to talk to your networks. Do you know other traders that you could link up with to offer a combined delivery service? Can you contact local shops and see if they can be used as collection points? Are there any businesses who need your services right now (or when things settle down)? Contact relevant local businesses and ask them to share your offers and news. You are all in the same boat so don’t hesitate to contact your fellow businesses and share tips and ideas. Work together and support each other.
We hope you find these top tips helpful. They were written by Urban Foundry’s Lucy Beddall who has over 20 years marketing experience and works with organisations supporting their social media marketing (and other marketing) needs. For further information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org