And the shutdown continues. In Michigan, we're under a stay-at-home directive until the end of the month; many expect that it will be extended. For some, these are very desperate times as they worry about how to support their employees and keep the business afloat until the economy re-opens. For others, this offers time to think and plan about their business. For those in the latter camp, there are things you can do now to hit the ground running when we're back in business:
If you have a social media presence already:
- Review your goals. Before you can review your metrics, you need to be clear about your goals for your various social channels. The social landscape changes rapidly. If you haven't reviewed your goals since you first entered social channels, now would be a good time.
- Review your metrics. Take a good look at whatever you're tracking. Is it helpful? Does it support your current goals? If not, review your settings and track whatever is meaningful to you. "Likes" are not an indication of social media success. Interactions with your particular audience is much more important. What you measure will be different for each platform.
- Review your platforms. Once you've had the chance to see where you're seeing activity, you may elect to exit one or more platforms. If your business is not heavily image-related, Instagram may not make sense for you. Likewise, if you are a B2B company, LinkedIn may be far more useful than Facebook. Let the numbers guide your decisions.
- Make a plan. If you do not have a posting schedule or editorial content calendar, now is a great time to create one. Decide how often you'll post and what type of information you'll post - this will be different for each channel and audience. Consistency is important. This is also a good time to look at scheduling tools if you're not currently using one. Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and Sprout Social are easy to navigate, and there are many more options.
- Create a media library. This can also be a good time to organize photos and videos of your products, create new lifestyle photos or other assets that can be used for future. Categorizing them and loading them into a media library will save time later. People are getting used to seeing professional people on the webcam from a computer or laptop, so it's all the more acceptable to film your own videos to use on social media.
If you do NOT have a social media presence:
- Start one now. The statistics on social media usage are staggering. You must have some kind of presence. You do not have to be everywhere. Choose one platform that seems like a logical place to find your audience and start there. For instance, B2C companies may find Facebook to be valuable; B2B may have more success on LinkedIn. Regardless of what channel you choose, you can get started with no cash outlay or very minimal investment, depending on how you choose to manage it. If you have people in house that can handle this, you can begin to test a channel at no additional expense.
- Build slowly but deliberately. Decide on a comfort level and start there. If you feel like you can post once a week without stress, make that your goal. The key is to decide what will be meaningful to post to your audience and post that. Do not be tempted to post because the week is almost up and you haven't posted anything. Have some notes or a running list of posts for when you can't think of anything. This is where an editorial calendar comes in handy. If you schedule at least 3-6 months in advance, you will not have last-minute panic attacks. You can always push a post off a week if something timely comes up that you want to post instead.
- Facebook is not a substitute for a website. Spoiler alert: you do not own the content on Facebook: Facebook does. Forget all the posts you've seen with legal-like language about taking control of your posts or assets, etc. The only content you really own and fully control is on your website. There are trade-offs with DIY website design platforms such as WIX and Wordpress, but they are relatively inexpensive and at least allow you to have a presence, (Keep in mind that the website creation may be free; the hosting is not.)
If you already have a social presence, remember to update your website and social channels with your hours and policies or procedures during shut-down periods. In times like these, people matter. Social media can be a place where we spread comfort and confidence (pay no attention to all that other stuff you see!), and it remains a top source for information for users.
The good news is that most of the basic social platforms are free to join and use. Start with the free version and then devote future budget where it will be most likely to see the greatest benefit. Keep in mind that for social media, the goal is not always increased sales. Other social media benefits include:
- increased exposure (they can't use you if they don't know you're there)
- show "what else" you do (current clients may be using one of your products or services without being aware of the others that you offer)
- clarify your brand (also why it's important to make sure your brand is clearly communicated across all channels)
- keep you top-of-mind between sales opportunities
Sometimes being able to focus on a project can help relieve some stress.Those who can take advantage of planning time will be able to focus on the business of getting back to business when we're able. Wishing everyone valuable time with family during this crisis, as well as time to stay in touch (virtually!) with employees and co-workers.
Stay safe! Stay healthy!