How to manage your online presence during a time of crisis
Whether it’s a global pandemic, recession, political turmoil or something else, external crises, although few and far between, hit businesses hard when they do occur.
And while more and more businesses are understanding the importance of an online presence for general day to day marketing and communications activities, these can often be forgotten or misused during times of difficulty. This is particularly true for those who are new to these online forms of media.
So with that in mind, here are some best practice tips on how to manage your online presence during times of crisis:
1. Keep important business information up to date
In recent months, we have seen businesses affected like never before. For those with physical stores or offices, forced closures and adjusted opening times have become the norm. But as confusing as it may be for businesses to navigate the evolving landscape, it is just as difficult for customers to keep up.
With an increasing number of digital savvy customers, whose first point of call is to check online for company information before a visit, keeping details of opening hours, safety measures or restrictions up to date is vital.
Therefore, it is a good idea to update the company website with any changes, as well as any online profiles, such as Google My Business, Bing Places and TripAdvisor etc. This way, any visitors will feel confident that they have not made a wasted journey and are prepared for their visit, which minimises risk to both you and them.
2. Break the social media silence
Whether your company is an avid user of social media or not, at no time is the online channel more important than during times of turmoil. Customers have come to expect instant and transparent communication from businesses at all times, but particularly during those of widespread uncertainty.
Fundamentally, a business’s social profiles have become customer service channels, whereby consumers can get in touch with you and you with them, with direct and instantaneous messages. On a day to day basis, this allows you to answer queries and questions to enhance customer experience but during times of crisis, social media should be used to provide informative communications on important company updates that may affect consumers.
As well as opening times, this could include your commitment to ensuring the care of customers, as well as how their best interests are being protected, for example. Or other updates may include product, delivery or service delays.
But regardless of what the message is, ensure the tone, style of delivery and design are consistent with those of your brand, while remaining accessible and digestible for customers.
3. Keep consumers engaged
While a business might be facing difficulty due to the crisis in question, it is important to remember that consumers are just as affected. Whether that be financially, mentally or physically, it is appropriate to assume that consumer sentiments will be high, so brands have to make greater effort to reassure and reengage customers.
Therefore, not only should social media be used to provide informative messages, but also content that encourages interaction and engagement. Included in this could be competitions, use of interactive story features and live streams, for example.
Social media influencer partnerships are another great technique to encourage engagement as influencers help to instil a human element into a brand’s marketing, which can often become lost amid other communications and commercial activity.
And this works successfully to build back trust between the brand and the consumer, through a human-to-human marketing approach.
4. Revisit scheduled content
Scheduling content for online channels is a common marketing activity. In normal circumstances, you can anticipate content for national holidays, dates of importance or pre-planned business development and typically, these go unchanged.
However, the unpredictable nature of crises means that in the event of one, some scheduled posts or activity may no longer be appropriate. It is therefore beneficial to spend time revisiting schedules and planned content to ensure they are sensitive to the current situation and position your brand in the correct light.
Disregarding this could see the brand face even more difficulty or even reputational damage, particularly if a post is interpreted negatively due to its untimely nature.
5. Don’t press pause
One of the most common reactions in response to a crisis is to pause any marketing activity. This is usually the case as businesses seek to save costs by cutting back on what they perceive to be less business-critical activities.
But, in an increasingly digital world, and one that has seen physical stores and offices come to a halt due to a crisis, online marketing has never been more important or apparent.
As well as offering a lifeline for businesses to keep providing services, selling products and interacting with customers, a strong online presence is key for establishing a presence on a channel that is constantly growing and becoming ever more saturated with competitors.
So instead, identify where budget is being spent, and most importantly, where it is being wasted, and reallocate it to activities that can improve your online presence. And once this is done, implement smart strategies that will maximise your return on investment.
For more information on how to manage an online presence during a time of crisis, contact our team of marketing specialists today.