Using social media to engage with customers in a crisis

5 min read
Brandi Johnson

In communities across the country, people are hunkering down and holing up in the wake of COVID-19. Which means some of the ways you’ve been communicating with your customers are off the table. The good news is, there’s still social media.

In this post, we’ll list six things you can do to keep the lines of communication open using social media.

Related: Small business guide to surviving the global economic crisis

6 ways to use social media to engage with customers in a crisis

Customers might not be physically in your store, studio or tea shop but that doesn’t mean you can’t still talk. Follow these tips to lean into social media:

  1. Update your social media profiles.
  2. Share real-time updates.
  3. Create a social media calendar.
  4. Share helpful blog posts and videos.
  5. Build community through asking and answering questions.
  6. Use automation and scheduling tools. 

Related: How to make it easy for customers to contact you

1. Update your social media profiles

Many small businesses are adapting to the government’s recommendation to avoid face-to-face interaction by:

  • Reducing the number of hours their physical locations are open
  • Switching to a drive-through and digital payment model
  • Moving classes, meetings or sessions online

So the first thing you should do is update your profiles with any changes to your hours or the services you're providing.

For example, many restaurants are now offering curbside pickup services, so you don't even need to leave your car to get your favorite ramen or wings.

For significant updates, like reduced hours or temporary closures, be sure to pin that post at the top of your profile for easy reference.

Related: 10 tactics to adapt your business for social distancing

2. Share real-time updates

Using Social Media Ollys Friendly Grocer Facebook

Beyond just email messaging, you can connect with your customers on social media to give them real-time updates on how you and your business are handling COVID-19.

These updates can include:

  • Facebook Messenger messages pushed out to a group
  • Instagram Live to share snippets of good news, store walk-throughs and more

Streaming in real time can help offset the sense of isolation everyone is feeling.

Related: The ultimate guide to Facebook Live for business

3. Create a social media calendar

It’s easy to get caught up in the latest news ticker, from the number of cases in your area to today’s advice from the Department of Health. Creating a content plan for the next few days or weeks can do two things:

  • Make you feel better, because it’s something tangible you can do
  • Ensure that you’re staying relevant by posting regularly

Once your social media calendar is set, stick to it. Your followers will appreciate the steady influx of fresh content.

Related: How to create a social media content calendar

4. Share helpful blog posts and videos

Keep in mind that the things you share don’t necessarily have to be your own. Find articles, videos and infographics that can help your followers who may be staying home more.

For example:

  • A home décor store could share ways to refresh your space with what you’ve already got
  • A salon could provide some self-care-at-home tips
  • Gyms and fitness studios can share free and low-cost online workout programs to help keep their members active

Keep an eye out for things your people will like and share the best.

5. Build community through asking and answering questions

Many of us are accustomed to seeing people all day every day — from the office to the grocery store and our kids' soccer games.

Without that human connection, it's even more vital for us to find ways to relate.

As a business owner, you can help by asking your followers questions like "What's your hidden gem binge show?" or "What's your favorite version of self-care?" and answering questions when they have them.

Participate and be part of the conversation — you might make some new friends and lifelong customers.

6. Use automation and scheduling tools to your advantage

Open Facebook or Instagram to make a quick post, and it's easy to fall into the infinite scroll — and that's on a good day. Using a social scheduling tool can help you minimize your time on social media, while maximizing your impact.

Here are some popular social scheduling tools for major social media platforms:

  • Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest
  • Later: Instagram and Pinterest
  • Loomly: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn
  • MeetEdgar: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram
  • Sprout Social: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn
  • Tailwind: Instagram & Pinterest with cross-posting to Facebook Pages

GoDaddy customers can use Over, the social media design app, for one month free (available for iOS and Android smartphones). 

There’s always an upside

For anyone who finds their mobility limited due to COVID-19 — especially those sheltering in place — social media will be a lifeline to the outside world. This is your chance to fight your own feeling of helplessness by:

  • Keeping customers updated with changes in your hours or services
  • Asking and answering questions
  • Sharing helpful or uplifting posts and videos

In the process, you might just find a new lifelong customer.