There’s no getting away from the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic has flipped life as we knew it on its head, and it looks like ‘the new normal’ will be sticking around for some time yet. During such unprecedented times, it’s natural for businesses to grapple with precisely what to say to their customers, especially on social media. As a tradesperson, you’re lucky that you can continue working as normal, unlike those in other sectors, such as hospitality. But this creates a conundrum. At the end of the day you still need to keep marketing your business to survive in this tough economic climate. Yet how do you do this without offending your client base, who could be scared, anxious, and facing financial hardship themselves?
Social media has long been one of the most essential marketing tools for many tradespeople, offering advantages like online visibility, better engagement with customers and improved branding. And its influence has only grown during the coronavirus crisis, with the likes of Facebook and Instagram seeing a huge surge in use while people have been stuck at home throughout lockdowns. When the world is so different to how it was just over a year ago, we look at how tradespeople like yourself should approach social media marketing during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Find out how your customers are feeling
Before you completely rip up your existing social media plans, get a rational view of where you’re at. Assess the content you had lined up for the short term and see if it still works. Might it be deemed insensitive considering everything going on? If so, can it be tweaked to be more appropriate? After all, many people will be feeling more delicate than usual, so it’s essential that your content hits the right notes or you could lose their business.
Gauging your customer sentiment will help you predict what content will work best at this time. You can do this through social listening, which means seeing how people are talking about your brand and industry on social media. This will reveal the kinds of services your customers still want and need during this time, enabling you to tailor your social media content accordingly.
For example, you may discover that less people can afford your services right now, which means you’re better off improving your brand reputation by offering value in ways that aren’t just about promoting your business. Why not take a leaf out of these tradesman influencers’ books and produce engaging content that’s on the lighthearted side? Examples to follow include Nick Schiffer’s Q&A videos, Sarah Listi’s on-the-job storytelling, and Kate Campbell’s depictions of her life away from construction sites.
Be realistic but not doom and gloom
The current situation is awful for so many reasons, but you can’t just bury your head in the sand. Acknowledging the pandemic in your content is important if you don’t want to be labeled tone-deaf. So, letting your customers know that you’re still there for them at this strange and scary time will go a long way. Just a simple: “It feels strange to promote our services at the moment…” at the start of a post shows you’re not pretending everything is fine, but acknowledging that the show must go on.
However, you don’t want to subject your social media followers to endless posts about the pandemic either. We all know what’s going on in the world and constantly reminding your customers about the bad news won’t win you any favours. We recommend approaching things with content that evidently relates to ‘the new normal’ in a subtle way. For example, videos showing how your business is adapting to the current situation, and sharing fun user-generated content from your customer’s homes help demonstrate that you’re in it together.
Accept that your social media targets might be different
Although you’re ultimately still a business that needs to make money to survive, you shouldn’t necessarily focus on the same targets as before. Leads and profits were probably the only metrics that mattered to you previously, but with your customers perhaps less likely to use your services right now, it’s best to redefine what’s considered social media success in the Covid era. That’s not to say you should scrap these existing goals entirely, but you may need to focus on seeing success in new ways.
Instead, your main social media target should probably be engagement. By measuring your social media campaigns using metrics like clicks, likes, shares, and comments, you’ll be able to determine whether your efforts are resonating with your audience. Although this may not lead to sales right away, keeping your customers engaged during this period increases the chances of them returning to your business in the future. In addition, although you can still report on important metrics month-over-month and year-over-year, be mindful that they might not tell the full story considering the disruption your business has likely faced in the last 12 months or so.
All in all, keep in mind that the pandemic won’t last forever and that any changes you make to your social media strategy aren’t necessarily permanent. Though, you may find that your new way of doing things pays dividends and is better in the long run. Either way, you can only make the best of the situation and go from there.