COVID-19, Small Businesses, and Social Media

Navigating through the unprecedented, globally-uncertain time that is the Coronavirus pandemic is complicated and difficult for large corporations. And for small businesses, those challenges, difficulty, and extreme uncertainty of how – and more importantly – when we’ll all get through this can be crushing. As the reality of Coronavirus and COVID-19 continues to unfold, we see more and more pivots in the way small businesses are doing business and using social media to assist with those pivots. How I’m seeing small businesses use social media in response to COVID-19 is separated into the 4 categories below.

How Small Businesses Use Social Media in Response to COVID-19

How Small Businesses Use Social Media in Response to COVID-19

Small Businesses Use Social Media to Communicate with Customers

Yes, of course you’ve always communicated with your customers and potential customers via your social media channels, but now the post content has shifted in ways like this:

  • To post adjusted operating hours.
  • To communicate, in the earlier days of the Coronavirus outbreak, what extra measures staff was taking to maintain a clean environment in their stores and facilities.
  • To share modified business operations like a restaurant closing its dining room and moving to To Go, drive-thru, and delivery orders or new delivery methods like leaving an order on the front porch to eliminate any direct hand to hand contact. 

I’m seeing a much higher than normal use of the Pinned Post feature that both Facebook Pages and Twitter offer. This is an excellent way to keep your most important information at the top of your Page. Also, know that many customers will look on a small business’ social media profiles first because they know it gives businesses and customers the easiest path towards making real-time updates; checking websites for info like hours of operation isn’t as likely to give you current information since updating a website usually is a harder, more time-consuming task for many small businesses.

Small Businesses Use Social Media to Build Community & Help

In my area, two uses of social media for good that particularly stand out to me are from a local Memphis radio station and restaurants that have the staff to pull off larger food orders. FM100 Memphis has started what it calls Free Commercial Friday where they are inviting local small businesses on the air to give a free, 30-second radio commercial promoting their small business. When I heard it myself, it made me so happy to listen to the small business love happening! It’s a wonderful gesture that other radio stations could easily implement to support the small businesses in their community.

Second, I’ve begun to see more and more posts from local restaurants that can accommodate large orders, offering to take orders from people who want to thank those working in the local hospitals or stocking shelves at the local grocery stores. This is really a win-win because there are people who want to send a gesture of support and thanks to healthcare workers and/or grocery store employees, and there are restaurants who want to keep serving meals and keep as many of their staff employed as possible.

Small Businesses Use Social Media to Entertain & Educate

Some businesses have to close temporarily due to limits on the size of gatherings, and they are finding other ways to serve their customers. The Cincinnati Zoo shifted to what it calls Home Safari Facebook Lives every day of the week. The Memphis Zoo has created the Zoo Dude plus a Virtual Wild Encounters series. They have published a weekly schedule that includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

You might have seen some videos circulating online of Wellington the penguin at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium. Wellington is becoming quite a star thanks to the live-streamed “field trips” be takes through areas of the aquarium.

My personal favorite comes from the National Cowboy Museum. They have turned over their Twitter account to their head of security since the museum temporarily closed. It’s safe to say Tim is cutting his Twitter chops one tweet at a time.

Small Businesses Use Social Media to Pivot

Gyms and fitness facilities of all kinds are being forced to close, and some are utilizing Facebook Pages or Facebook Groups to stream classes and workouts for their members. In my area, a family-owned kids’ art business has pivoted to putting together art kits for sale as a way to generate some amount of revenue while their brick and mortar location is temporarily closed. They post a photo of each kit, what’s included, the price, payment options, and delivery or pickup options. People comment WANT and have to send payment via either PayPal or Venmo to claim their kit. Each kit has a different theme, and each kit has a set number available.

Similarly, some local bakery and cookie baking small businesses are building their own “decorate at home” kits to sell. These kits are especially helpful for parents who want to give their kids something creative and constructive to do while cooped up at home, and give these businesses an additional source of revenue.

And to end on a personal note, the teachers at my kids’ former elementary school have planned a parade of sorts through all the neighborhoods that feed into that school! Love this!

What are some things you are seeing in your local community that are benefitting small businesses?


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