Social Media Marketing during COVID

Have your sales dived during COVID? You wouldn’t be alone – many small businesses have struggled with the abrupt shift in our economy. Despite government programs designed to help, it’s estimated that over 100,000 businesses have closed during the pandemic.

With stay-at-home orders and quarantines in place, it’s hard to network and drum up business. You can’t go to the local Chamber of Commerce meeting or meet with clients in-person. A lot of shopping has shifted online – with some purchasing categories up over 30% since the pandemic began – so why not meet your clients where they’re at? Here’s how you can use social media marketing during COVID to support your sales strategies.

Paid Promotions on Social Media

CPC, or cost-per-click, paid ads on Facebook, or promoted posts on Instagram, there are plenty of online advertisers eager to take your money. But where should you promote your business?

First, go to where your clients interact with you the most. Maybe your Facebook posts receive more likes and shares than tweets. Or, Instagram posts consistently have a better engagement rate. Paying for promotions can increase these metrics on a social media channel, but if you’re trying to get the most bang for your buck, promote on a feed where you already know your clients interact.

Second, what do you have to offer them? While brand awareness is a part of a marketing strategy, during tough times you may need to take a more aggressive tactic. If you’re hearing a consistent theme from clients – what do payroll tax cuts mean for their business? When should they lay off employees – write a quick post or blog post that answers their questions. Sharing and promoting that post may bring new clicks and clients to your virtual door.

Offering value for customers who are cash-strapped builds loyalty and shows that you’re on their side. You want their business to succeed. Even if they don’t have the cash flow to engage your services now, they’ll come to you in the future.

Third, look at the return. If you pay five dollars to promote a post on Facebook, how many people click through? How many new clients contacted you through the ad, or how many existing clients inquired about additional services? If you’re not seeing a good return, shift your advertising dollars elsewhere.

Most platforms, and google analytics, provide robust tools to analyze a promoted post’s or advertisement’s performance. They also have free training for business owners so you can learn how to get the most out of those tools. Take advantage of some of this COVID downtime to educate yourself about returns to get better results from your paid promotions.

Paid Promotions on Search Engines

When you sign up for Google Analytics, they’ll start sending you emails offering a free ad credit for Google Ads. Google Ads is the program that places ads next to search results. If you decide to use them, you can pick keywords and a location to target so that your ad shows up when someone types “accountant + Des Moines.”

Before throwing up an ad, do a little keyword research for your area. Keyword research can show you the potential demand for your services. If a lot of people are googling “bankruptcy” plus “small business,” it tells you that they could need your services consulting on their financial situation.

While it’s a good idea to look at your competitor’s ads to see what they target, ask if you could promote something a little different from them to rank higher in search results. How do you differentiate yourself? Maybe it’s through years of experience, or by offering a bankruptcy package that saves people money. Highlight that in your advertisement.

Google Ads and other options can be quite expensive, so take the time to craft an advertisement that looks and sounds professional before hitting “publish.” Keep a close eye on the returns you’re seeing from your ads – are people clicking? How long are they staying on your website? Are they contacting you for business? – and monitor your budget closely.

Blogging and Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing refers to driving people to your website and social media channels, rather than going out and soliciting new business it brings people to you. It’s based upon strong SEO and keyword usage on your site, as well as good content.

First, hire someone to optimize your site for SEO. They will rewrite pages, alt-tags, and meta descriptions to better highlight keywords and target your ideal customer. A well-designed website can do wonders and raise your company above the competition.

Second, think about adding a blog. It’s a place where you can answer questions that you often hear from clients. Blog posts give you content that can be shared across your social media channels, sending people to your website, and giving them a reason to follow you.

Influencer Marketing

The term “influencer” has made its way into marketing verbiage. An influencer is someone with a large following – whether on their social media channels or blog – and who can “influence” people’s buying decisions. Brands form partnerships with influencers to promote their products and services to their followers.

Whether or not influencer marketing could help your business depends upon your type of business. If you own a beauty supply store or spa, partnering with a local beauty influencer could make a lot of sense. A clothing store might want to talk to a fashion blogger who has a strong following in their town.

But before you jump on the influencer train, think about the value they’ll offer you. Some products and services – particularly those with a visual component (like clothing) do well with influencer partnerships. If you have a small business, you’ll want to focus on influencers in your area whose audience lives nearby. But an accounting firm may not see much value in paying someone to post a picture analyzing a spreadsheet on Instagram.

Just as your business is not one size fits all, neither should be your marketing strategy. With people stuck at home, online shopping and time online is way up, so you could realize a lot of benefits from increasing your online presence. Just be smart about it and look at the numbers before committing to any one channel.