With the onset of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, many companies must take unprecedented action in order to survive. Social distancing guidelines and related health regulations mean that many small businesses need to establish an online presence to remain visible. In addition to revamping websites and online ads, essential workflow may also include strengthening social media campaigns on platforms like Facebook.
Given the pressure, it is understandable that jumpstarting or revamping your Facebook page can feel intimidating at first. However, the right application of existing Facebook tools is the perfect way to engage with customers who spend much of their time online. The following guide to creating a Facebook strategy during the coronavirus era can help you use current customer behavior and digital traffic to sustain your business needs.
Step One – Create Your Social Media Account
Without the availability of traditional marketing, businesses need an online presence to connect with potential customers. Moreover, existing and future customers rely digital information to remain informed about the latest products and services. To connect with your customers, create an official Facebook business page and a corresponding Instagram business account. This page allows you to update customers on your company’s current hours of operation, explain delivery or curbside pickup options, and provide a link to your official website or online store.
These free tools allow you to share products and services as well as promotions like digital gift cards. Facebook is also an important way for customers to reach you in the event of reduced business hours. With chat and public post options as well as vivid images that appear directly in a follower’s newsfeed, each page allows you to reach your target market quickly and effectively. And since Facebook ranks high on search engines, it is also a way for new customers to find your business if you are still working on content for an official website. Of course, your Facebook page’s call-to-action section can provide an excellent backlink if your online store is ready for customer shopping and checkout.
Step Two – Optimize Your Social Media Account
Once you have created a Facebook page and updated information business website and current hours of operation, it is time to optimize your account. Your company can do this by filling out your profile information in its entirety. On the business page back end, Facebook allows you to enter a unique username, short description, company overview, mission statement, and longer description.
While the short description is an excellent way to give your customer a snapshot of your products or services, the company overview and longer description allow you to incorporate keywords to attract your target market. Consider using a free keyword tool (such as Long Tail Pro) to fully optimize these sections. Similarly, an updated mission statement is a great way to incorporate keywords as well increase relevancy for COVID-related services.
The back end also contains field for entering awards or recognition your company has received as well as unique product listings. For example, a social-media manager for an award-winning restaurant would enter a “Best of 2019 Award” in this field. To further promote the business, you would enter “Free Delivery Coupon” or “Curbside Pickup Available” in the unique products field.
Step Three – Make Communication Automatic
Since the global pandemic means that business changes can occur at any time, it is imperative that you take advantage of Facebook’s real-time communication tools. First, prepare a friendly template response to answer common customer-service inquiries automatically. For example, this response can include information about any shipping delays, available services, safety precautions, and company contact emails and phone numbers. Upload the automated reply to Facebook and turn on your business page’s instant-reply message to provide the customers with up-to-date information whenever they send inquiries. After answering frequently asked questions (FAQs) efficiently, you can then use the free Facebook Messenger to answer more specific customer-service questions in real-time.
In addition to handling customer service immediately, you can also automate your Facebook posts and content sharing. For example, instead of logging into Facebook every few hours to share a link or coupon, consider using a free social media management platform such as Hootsuite. These free interfaces allow you to schedule social media posts that upload automatically based on your settings. In this way, you can regularly update your Facebook page with relevant photos, YouTube videos, or blog posts directly from your website without needing to log in every time. This frees business owners to focus on other revenue-boosting tasks.
Step Four – Create an Online Streaming Event
With many communities still under quarantine or shelter-in-place orders, some individuals may feel starved for human interaction. Fortunately, Facebook Live is an excellent resource for providing face-to-face customer service. Use your business page to schedule a virtual shopping hour, virtual tour, or question-and-answer session via Facebook Live. This tool is also a great way for customers to get a “free trial” before purchasing. For example, a personal trainer may offer a free Facebook Live session, or a language tutor may offer a sample lesson. The social-media manager can then redirect customers to the official website to sign up for the full version.
Step Five – Foster a Sense of Community
Since individuals are spending more time on their devices than ever before, it is also important to use your Facebook business account to foster a sense of community. One of the best ways is to create helpful blogs on your own website and then share them as Facebook posts. Users are more likely to share helpful information that enables them to process real emotions (rather than overly sales-y content).
Another way to show genuine care is to offer a free product that Facebook followers can immediately use. This does not have to be elaborate. For example, a health-related business might offer a free calorie counter or free downloadable food journal in exchange for newsletter signup. Finally, it is also important to keep customers engaged even after you have achieved a sale. In addition to the official Facebook page, some businesses create “VIP” Facebook groups to provide updated product information and discounts, thereby increasing the likelihood of repeat customers.
Step Six – Create a 90-Day Strategy for the Business Facebook Page
Once you have incorporated these best practices, it is time to create a 90-day (or 180-day) strategy for your Facebook page. This creates consistency and increases the likelihood of success. Ideally, your Facebook posts should include the following each week:
- Blog post (linked directly from your official website)
- A relevant article (from a major publication) or complete guide
- One free resource or giveaway (such as a coupon code or reminder of free delivery)
- One or two photos of your current products or services
- One trending hashtag (use a free keyword tool or review Twitter to find trending hashtags for the week)
You can create a weekly workflow calendar either manually or through a management platform like Hootsuite. One benefit of using a management platform is that you can input all content at the beginning of the week, and then schedule release so that posts upload automatically. This “set-and-go” automation can help your business stay organized without feeling overwhelmed about what to post each week.
The Bottom Line
Although the global coronavirus pandemic has created unprecedented challenges, small businesses can use Facebook to create a viable online presence that shifts focus from in-person to digital. Since Facebook is a free platform that ranks highly in search results, it is imperative to create a business page and optimize profile information completely. If your budget permits, you can also go a step beyond the free tools and use Facebook’s self-service dashboard to create local ads. Whether you rely entirely on the free resources or create an advertising budget, you can also refer to Facebook’s business manager guide or business resource hub to make the most of your page. By incorporating these practices into your workflow, you can successfully connect with customers on one of the world’s foremost online gathering spaces.