The COVID-19 virus is something that clearly can not be ignored. As our small business clients have asked us how they should handle this situation, our team delved into research to come up with some time-proven strategies for how businesses can best weather an international health crisis. The result of our labor is the following plan.
1. Create An INTERNAL Plan
Whether you have one employee or one hundred, you know that the success of your business depends on your team! So start by simply talking with them. Ask about their needs and concerns; then figure out how you can address those challenges. For example, you may need to adjust schedules for those who have children, as schools are unexpectedly closed. Maybe your staff just needs encouragement during this worrisome time.
Also, no matter how stringent your cleaning standards normally are, your team should adopt additional measures to ensure your business remains sanitized and safe. This can include more frequent hand washing policies and wiping surfaces with bleach more often than health code would ever require. By addressing your employees’ needs and setting expectations, they will be better equipped to continue serving your customers during this pandemic.
2. Share Your Plan EXTERNALLY
By now, your inbox has likely been flooded with emails from every corporation you have ever visited. While you may have disregarded some of them, these emails do help customers feel more confident in continuing to shop at these businesses. As a small business, you should also communicate with your customers so they know what to expect from your business during this time. Are you changing your hours or closing additional days? If not, make sure customers know you will still be there to serve them!
Also, share the updated hygiene and cleaning standards that you and your staff decided upon. People want to support small businesses, so you need to let them know how. If people can’t continue to visit your business because of COVID-19, then consider offering another option; perhaps customers could buy $50 gift cards for only $40.
Finally, consider how your business can demonstrate its commitment to the community as a whole during this time. I have seen many restaurants, such as Tropical Grille and Biscuit Head, offering free meals for children, who typically have lunch provided at school. On the other hand, a wedding dress boutique, The Poinsett Bride, committed to donate $50 to local food banks for every wedding dress they sell over the next two weeks, as many people are expecting food shortages. What can your business do to show love for the community?
3. Stay Calm
Many small business owners are afraid right now. That is to be expected. Sales are down as people stay home more, and the stock market doesn’t seem to know which way is up or down. However, things will calm back down. As business owners, we need to keep a steady hand and a positive outlook on what is to come.
If you have ever studied economics, you know that the stock market is largely dependent on emotions, often called “consumer confidence.” On a micro level, small businesses can help balance the local economy by simply offering positivity to their customers and employees. In order to show that you have confidence in your small business and the others in our community, simply continue to share on social media and serve your clients the best you can.
Once this chaos settles, you will be glad that your processes are still in place and your business can jump back in to growing and serving!
As a brand operating in 2020, it can be really easy to get caught up in your social media follower count, but we’d like to propose that even more so than followers, engagement should be your main focus. Having a ton of followers on social media is meaningless if none of them are engaging with you, telling people about you, or buying from you.
Engagement is important because it indicates whether what you’re posting is of value to your audience. And it can even affect your ability to grow your audience. Let’s dive into it…
Why Is Engagement Important?
1. The Infamous Algorithms – Facebook and Instagram both use algorithms to determine what content to show users based on a range of factors, and the most significant one is engagement. If your followers aren’t engaging with your posts, this essentially tells the algorithm that your content doesn’t resonate with your audience. And vice versa. If you get a lot of engagement, the algorithm will reward you with even more reach.
When that happens, the algorithm may end up determining that your posts are not relevant and therefore reduce your reach, meaning it will actually hide your posts from your followers. And alas, this just perpetuates the cycle of low engagement. If people aren’t seeing your posts, how can they engage with them? (How do you get out of the cycle? We’ll get there…)
2. Engagement Builds Content Builds Sales – Engagement is important because it ultimately helps build relationships that are sustainable. And building sustainable relationships with your customers is critical to the success of your sales funnel.
If your audience is engaged, it means they like you! Congrats. And a lot of times when you have an engaged audience, a really, really cool thing starts to happen— they start creating user generated content. This is the dream, y’all! When users create content about your brand of their own volition, for free, and post it to their page…. it promotes your brand to their extended network. It’s essentially free word-of-mouth advertising.
So How Can You Boost Your Engagement?
1. Interactive Stories – Give your followers a reason to engage. Stories are a super easy way to do this. Create a poll. Open up a question box. Let them in on your processes. Ask them their opinion! People want to feel a part of something, especially brands they love.
2. Calls to Action – Give your followers a reason to engage in your captions. Give them a reason to comment. Ask a question. Ask them their favorite emoji, their favorite memory of your brand, or their favorite product! Ask what they want to see more of on your page.
3. Giveaways – This one is a great way to grow your following and your engagement at the same time. Plus your followers get free stuff. In the business we call that a win-win-win. (Get it? Someone will win…the giveaway…that’s the third win. ???? We’ll see ourselves out.) Pro tip: make it easy and fun. The more steps needed, the less likely your audience will join in.
If you have low engagement now, you really don’t need more followers, you need more engaged followers. Building engagement takes time, so don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t happen right away. Get to it. Stick with it. And have fun! Social media is a lot better when it’s fun.