There is no question that Covid-19 is affecting everyone and everything around us and in many different ways.
The challenge before us, as small business owners no matter your situation is to keep the connection alive between you and your virtual audience. Both your existing clients and your eventual new ones all NEED to know you are still present and accounted for despite closed doors (if that is the situation, which it seems to be for most). And if your doors are still open, or you're operating online, then they need to know that too.
And all the while, the content we are sharing whether it's in our social media streams or our blog posts must come from a place of empathy. Operating under the same ole, same ole policy of what you may have been sharing before is not going to keep your audience connected. If ever there was a time to get real with your Facebook/Instagram followers or blog readers...it is NOW. Compassion, transparency and an open line of communication have never been more needed in the way we are creating the content for our faithful audiences.
I know this can sound overwhelming. I know that the idea of pulling together a daily or weekly routine of keeping your content alive and in a way like I've mentioned, while simultaneously working through your own fears, whatever they may be, seems daunting.
And I hear you. Nearly all of March and early April were simply lost to my feelings of fear, disappointment, and unending worry. It seemed a monumental undertaking just to put on a pair of socks each morning, never mind create content and try to salvage a virtual connection to lost clients due to a massive economic shift.
It's not easy to share that, but it's important. What's also important is to know a way forward, to figure out some things you can do to create your light at the tunnel's end. And like my mother, Paula used to say, "You can let yourself feel all the feelings, you can cry and eat all the chocolate in the world, but at some point, you have to stand up and live again."
When the middle of April arrived, those words rang in my head louder than ever and I began again.
The life of your business can continue through the content you share, it can be a way back to the new normal that awaits so many small business owners. And it can be done while you also try to manage the reality of now.
Here are some helpful tips on what to share and how to share in this very unusual time we are living through:
You do not need to mention Covid-19 in all of your content. That said, it is important to consider the tone of your captions and content. People are experiencing this time in a multitude of ways. It's important to keep empathy in play and keep top of mind that "sell, sell, sell' is a tone that will be lost on many. I'd also caution against the already virally communicated "perfect pause" marketing content. For many, this time has wreaked havoc mentally and emotionally and seems less than a perfect pause in life to be grateful for. A repeated marketing message that "take this time to be your best self" may do more harm than good without being certain your full audience is on board with that approach.
Be transparent. Allow yourself to share some of your current struggles. You do not need to go into detail, but content that gives your audience a "behind the scenes" feeling makes you, and your business more relatable.
Revisit past content and re-use with a different spin: Go through some of your previous blog content/social posts and find ways to reflect on that content and reuse it. For example, if you are a salon that shared imagery of a beautiful client's cut and color from months ago, repost with a new caption. You could mention how you and your staff look forward to supporting your customers. This also helps to reinforce the quality of your product or service for a new follower/reader.
Encourage engagement: Ask for input on how others are managing through this crisis to get a feel for what the climate is like amongst your customers/followers. And of course, to simply show that your presence and connection to them is not simply one-sided, but that you genuinely care.
Alternate ways to support your business: If you are a storefront business that can sell any of your products through the mail, SHARE THAT INFO in your content. And share it often. I can't tell you how many businesses I've stumbled across that only have one or two small posts about selling products or merchandise remotely. This is a great content opportunity to combine the "be transparent" content element while still being able to sell product empathetically. Many people WANT to help support their favorite small businesses, and that means an honest, genuine open door to let your customers know they can support you through online sales.
Provide hope: Many of your clients and customers miss you, your services and your products just as much as you miss them. Don't be afraid to share genuine moments of hope or joy. It doesn't have to always be about the business, it can be about you. If you take a walk amongst the trees with your family, take a picture and dedicate a post or blog to the calm you felt in that moment. Because THAT is hope, and we need that now more than ever.
P.S. As always, I'm here if you should ever need some guidance or if you would like some writing assistance. I've emerged from this difficult time realizing I need to be a true "helper" for small business owners, and that's where my spirit currently needs to live.