Social Media Marketing During the Pandemic: Content Strategy for Businesses and Nonprofits

21 Apr

Social Media Marketing During the Pandemic:
Content Strategy for Businesses and Nonprofits

Well, it’s at least a month in for most of us, and thanks to COVID-19, we’ve all learned how to live and work safer at home.  Our new, but temporary, normal has us strategically ordering groceries online, wondering if we really could cut our own hair, and questioning our home décor based on co-worker comments via Zoom.  Businesses and nonprofits of all sizes have had to quickly respond to “how will we” and “what if” questions, which has not been easy.  Priorities have shifted, but at this point, we have all seemed to settle in.

For some businesses and organizations, social media marketing during this time of change has become a low priority.  However, now is actually a great time to talk about digital marketing and content strategy.  It probably comes as no surprise that time spent on mobile devices goes up when people are ordered to stay at home.  The numbers are in for Italy and China, which saw increases of 11% and 30% respectively, according to  Taking the time to plan out your organization’s social media and online presence for the next month or two would be time well spent.

Now, here comes the tricky part.  What should your content strategy be?  This is definitely a time to be an extra diligent listener.  Think of your customer…are they struggling, working extra hard, or just waiting this out?  Knowing your audience’s situation is important so that you offer relevant content with an appropriate tone.  Here are some suggestions to get you started. 

  • First, when and how often should you post on social media?  If you are able, definitely post once a day on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram; that would be an excellent goal.  These are platforms that people definitely visit on a daily basis.  
    If you have a business or organization that is appropriate for Twitter, you will still need to add content several times a day.  If you cannot keep up with that demand, you may want to consider suspending your activity there because results from tweeting once a day or less will not garner results to make it worth your time.  
    LinkedIn is always on my ‘yes’ list, but make sure your content is worthwhile, quality over quantity, for sure.  
    Also, if you have the time, now would be a fantastic occasion for a blog that talks about your pandemic experience.  It would be a great boost for your website (remember, blogs are Google fuel) and, by sharing the link via social media, an excellent way to achieve your content strategy goals.

  • Second, inform, but also engage.  It’s ok to let people know whether or not you are open, how they can get in touch with you, etcetera, but make sure you are also engaging with them in a positive way.  Often small businesses use their Facebook or Instagram accounts as bulletin boards that display the latest company information.  Instead, try to include the necessary information with some engaging content as well, such as a photo or a bit of humor.  For example, if you are a restaurant that now offers only curbside pickup, it would be funny to have a photo of a member of your team jokingly washing a windshield, “Who remembers full-service gas stations?  Well, we’re a full-service bistro!”  
    If you have a business that is completely closed, keep up with your social media with throwback photos, instructional videos or blogs about your products or services, and news about what will be exciting about your reopen.  Don’t forget to start a conversation with your audience.  For example, if your dog daycare service is closed, ask folks to post pics to show how their pups are handling social distancing.  They will come up with the funniest content!

  • Third, don’t remind people they are in a crisis.  Now that we’ve all been at this for over a month, we need to be mindful of Coronavirus fatigue.  Initially, people did crave new information, inspiration and consolation every day, but do they still?  At this point, people know how to get they information they need regarding COVID-19.  Now, what they want when they are on social media is a distraction.  If your company is making ventilators, then of course, talk about that.  However, most businesses are not actively involved in the support or recovery efforts, so please avoid reminding people to wash their hands, sharing videos to show your support of healthcare workers, or posting links to virus information.  All of these things are important, but at this stage of the game, entertainment and engagement should be the focus for 99% of businesses and organizations.

  • Finally, if you are a nonprofit, make a shift, and let people know what you need.  Having spent time in the nonprofit community, I really do feel for these organizations.  I especially feel for those who have had to cancel their biggest fundraisers of the year.  That can be devastating for a small nonprofit.  If your nonprofit is in that situation, use your social media content strategy to move your in-person event to an online, and possibly viral, event.  Let’s say there was a 5K walk or a gala that had to be cancelled.  Create a plan to work directly with your team captains and table hosts to use social media to keep your messaging and fundraising alive.  For example, ask 5K team captains to Motivate, Donate and Nominate by posting pictures of themselves walking in their own neighborhoods, promising to donate to the online event and nominating three other people to do the same.  This model can be adapted to almost any event.  Got a gala?  Have table hosts to post a picture of themselves dressed up and eating at their table at home!  Be sure to give clear instructions for posting and donating, and use a clever hashtag to follow the campaign’s progress.
    If an online fundraiser does not work for your organization, be sure to let your supporters know what it is you need during this time.  Be very specific.  If you need folks to donate a certain dollar amount by June 15th, or you need people to create, drop off or deliver items, let them know.  There are folks with more time available than usual, and there are some people who have reduced their expenses and have more resources to donate.  Now is the time to tell your story.  Explain how this quarantine has affected your mission and what is needed to continue your good work. 

We all hope that the end is in sight for this pandemic.  Until then, your business or organization will definitely benefit from intentional social media content strategy.  We’re all safe at home and plugged in to our devices.  Be sure to use your platforms to let your followers know that you are happy to serve them, and can’t wait to see them soon.  Won’t that be nice.


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