As the global pandemic continues, adjusting to the new normal of COVID-19 consumer behavior has been a challenge for most business owners. As an entrepreneur, you can’t afford to stop selling your products and services, but you have to shift operations, as well as sales and outreach tactics. That includes connecting with customers on social media.

Social Media Use Spikes as Interests Shift

Now is an incredible time to employ digital marketing, because consumers are spending a great deal of time on social media. In July, a GlobalWebIndex report showed a 10.5% increase in social media use over the same month in 2019. Additionally, the report found that social media ranks as the second-most popular digital activity (behind media consumption) during the pandemic. The rise in social media use is particularly pronounced among 18-to-34-year-olds. Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp recorded a 40% increase on those platforms within that age group. 

And just as we see social media usage skyrocketing, audience interests are changing. Americans are experiencing fear and uncertainty at record levels. According to Science Advances, the pandemic has caused an increase in acute stress and depressive symptoms across the country. In this environment, if your business’s social media posts don’t reflect the current reality, you could turn off more people than you attract.

 How can your business leverage social media to drive sales even in the midst of COVID-19? Read on for six ways to change your social media approach during the pandemic.

 1. Update Your Social Media Bios

Your customers have immediate and tactical questions regarding your operations. For example, is your restaurant open for dine-in, or only carry-out and curbside orders? Has your retail store changed or reduced hours of operation? Does your veterinary office now require appointments, whereas you once accepted walk-ins? 

Social media bios are valuable places for businesses to communicate logistical information to customers. In many communities, customers have to plan ahead and jump through precautionary hoops to patronize your business. Help them understand how to do so easily by prominently posting key information.

 2. Acknowledge the Current Situation

Virus or no virus, making your social media presence more authentic is always a good strategy. However, there’s never been a better time than now to show your brand’s humanity.

 An acknowledgment such as, “It feels weird to promote this right now…” or “We’re not sure how to share what’s going on in our business during a pandemic…” can let your followers know you’re sensitive to the situation. Conversely, ignoring what’s happening in the world may come across as out-of-touch, inauthentic or even tone-deaf. Connect with your customers by showing that you’re also adapting to the new normal.

 If you value transparency, you may also acknowledge your business’s challenges and why the support of your customers is critical to your business right now. For example, a post may reveal that you’re hosting a sale to help start a rent relief fund for your employees.

 3. Listen to Your Audience when Social Selling 

Social media is not a bullhorn. It should be an open line of communication to and from your customers. As such, when your customers engage with your posts, listen to them with empathy. 

Sometimes, all a customer needs to do is vent. In these cases, acknowledge their words and recognize that you hear them. If they’re expressing a need, take the opportunity to help them. This is the perfect time to connect and build relationships with your social media community – and these relationships will serve you in the long run.  

4. Keep Posting

People are spending more time than ever online, so make sure you’re regularly serving them new and varied content. If it feels disingenuous to market your products or services right now, share more about your brand’s story and values. Focus on promoting general positivity, as well as directly promoting your business. 

No matter the content, when you post, post with purpose. Ask yourself: How does this information entertain, inform, or otherwise serve the audience?

5. Get Creative

To keep pandemic-era social media followers engaged, consider creating entertaining content that offers them an escape. Gen Z, in particular, is suffering from boredom and is looking for fun content.

Videos attract one of the highest levels of engagement and deliver plenty of amusement. In fact, video content earns 38% more engagement on social media than text alone. Animations, GIFs, and video clips help meet the sky-high demand for diversions and distractions to take users’ minds off the pandemic. 

All this content doesn’t necessarily have to come from you. You can repost content, with permission, from others who share your brand values. Also, consider inviting our followers to create content for you. The bottom line is that, even if you’re not selling, creating content that drives engagement will build your social media community. When you’re ready to market your product or service, you’ll have an active audience primed to hear and respond to your message.

6. Find Ways to Connect While Social Selling 

Amid the threat of COVID-19, most people are homebound more than ever before. As a result, public health experts are concerned that the pandemic will lead to an epidemic of loneliness. The popularity of online gaming and watch parties have surged as platforms such as Zoom and Google Hangouts have become ubiquitous. People are eager to connect, and your business can facilitate these connections. 

Consider creating community engagement events through Instagram or Facebook Lives. Host a Twitter chat, or invite an influencer as a guest host for your brand. During your event, find ways for followers to interact on the spot. You can also create a hashtag and ask users to submit content using that hashtag. 

All these tactics give your tribe a time and space to rally around shared experiences and, ultimately, associate this feeling of positive connectivity with your brand.  

If you’re ready to create a full digital marketing plan that meets the needs of a pandemic-era audience, connect with one of our Customer Happiness Heroes and get the ball rolling!