Tag: covid-19

Building a Community During COVID-19

Building a Community During COVID-19

My son’s school, like many others, has sent home enrichment projects for him to complete during his time off (if he and we want) and being the parents we are, have encouraged him to keep his mind active. He’s already excitedly picked out what he wants to do and what topics he wants to focus on and the one he is most excited about this week is building a community.

When it came to this week’s blog post, I was not sure what I wanted to write about, or even if I was going to be able to write about anything. But then I thought about my son’s enrichment project, and what he is working on. It’s perfect for what many of us are finding right now. That our sense of community, the people we interact with and engage with, are still available, although our means of communication has changed.

Communicating Virtually

This week has been filled with Zoom meetings, video chats, messages, and more on social media. We are reaching out and using it more than ever before because that is our primary source of communication with our community. We’re checking Facebook for community updates, where to find eggs, and to keep in touch with our loved ones.

I have looked at pictures from camera rolls – landscapes, flowers, general pictures sharing our lives with one another. I have had friends post unpopular opinions and watched as others commented and laughed. And I am watching as my community, comes together, works together, and is helping one another through what may very well be one of the most difficult times we can imagine. It’s really quite beautiful.

But how do we transition this movement into our business pages? Because that is the ultimate goal from all of this, to stay in business even though how we do business has changed significantly. In a Zoom meeting this week, we discussed how we can support one another personally through this time by focusing on what we are grateful for and what our gifts are. This simple shift in perception can change your audience’s interaction with you on social media quickly during this time and may set you apart when business resumes “normal” operations.

Be Gracious

To begin, ask yourself what you are grateful for. This may be difficult for some, especially if you are stuck in what I call the boot loop of doom. This is when everything sucks, nothing is working the way you want it to, and everything that happens is complicating things further and you are left feeling frustrated, angry, lost, and hurt. Maybe you are crying or have lashed out on someone in your home and now feel bad. It happens. It happens to the best of us. And let’s be honest, we’ve had a lot of shit thrown at us in a short period of time.

Find something you are grateful for, something you are appreciative to have. At a time when many of us are looking at what we have lost, look for what you have gained. Small businesses are starting to gain the appreciation that we have been asking for. Yes, we are in a sucky situation where we may not be sure how to make ends meet and if we can keep employees on, but we have options available to us now that have never been before because we ARE the backbone to our communities. We ARE the support for our economy. We ARE important and everyone is becoming acutely aware, even if they aren’t sure what to do or how to help.

Be Giving

This is where your gifts are important. As a business owner, you have a special gift – your business. You are knowledgeable about your business. You know what you provide, and hopefully who your target audience is. Ask yourself, what can you give to your audience that may help them right now because every single of one us is struggling right now. We are all looking for a bit of solace in the chaos. What can you give? How can you help? What is your gift?

For us, our gift is understanding marketing and social media and how that applies to small businesses. This is why we are hosting an AMA on our page. This is why we are offering to help small business owners without charge for marketing assistance. Because this is our gift to share with our community. From sharing this gift, we have been able to maintain a sense of “normalcy,” continue doing what we love, and most importantly, build on our sense of community.

Speak to Your Community

It’s still there, that sense of community, even though we are farther apart because we have technology with our use of social media. We are inherently social people and we need to communicate with one another, and where can we go when we cannot openly and freely meet with people? We go online. We’re going to social media. We’re sharing and connecting and learning it isn’t all bad.

So, go out there, share your gifts with your community, show them you care, and show them that this isn’t going to stop you. You are a small business owner. You are made of tougher stuff than this. Share your gifts and share your gratitude. I am sure it will come back to you in ways you never expected possible.

Speaking to Your Audience During COVID-19

I struggled on what to write this week. If I should write this week, and if I did, what would I write about? Because I’m sure, like you, my mind has been thinking about all of the things. But in opening Symbiotic Marketing up as a resource to all businesses and all individuals during this time has been a blessing to me. While many are struggling to find their footing and are looking to the only platform we have now – digital – and this is something Symbiotic Marketing was built on and uses daily. I’m saying we are blessed because we have the background and we have the knowledge, but by opening up our services to everyone, I have been able to continue doing what I love and that gives me great peace.

So, with that being said, this week’s blog is going to be focused on speaking to your audience right now on digital platforms, specifically your website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn pages. I will touch on some things and give you some ideas of what you can do. If you need help, reach out. Because while we are all scrambling, we can also pull our resources together and help each other out. I am going to try to be concise and to the point, but as we all know, that may or may not happen. If you need clarity, please ask because your audience is acting very differently right now and needs to be treated differently.

Restrict All Sales Speak

It may be tempting to drive traffic to your digital outlets when talking to your audience online right now – that’s what they were put in place for! But here’s the thing. Like you, many people aren’t working right now and don’t know when they can expect to return to work. For anyone living paycheck to paycheck, this is an incredibly trying time and the stimulus cannot come fast enough.

While some may be “lucky,” my family included in this lot, to have someone who is considered essential and life sustaining and with this pandemic.  Our finances are more secure, but at what cost? Our family members are out working every day with people who may or may not have this illness and may or may not bring it home.

And the overarching fear that we all have, no one knows how long this is going to last or what toll this is going to take on our health care system. The stories are scary. Trying to remain informed is scary. We aren’t sure who or what we can trust right now. Our very sense of security has been shaken. This is why toilet paper and food are being rationed. And this is why any attempt at sales will fall flat right now.

Drop The Pretenses

The fear is too great right now. Too consuming. In addition to this, many are feeling frustrated. Frustrated because they can’t work or because they must work. Frustrated by the closed stores and lack of supplies. Frustrated because we just don’t know. We need a sense of order for our society to function properly and that has clearly been upset.

We need something we can control to bring back a sense of normalcy. And right now, there’s just a whole lot that is out of our control. As business owners, we always have something that we can be doing. But individuals, they may not have that luxury (if you want to call it that). As a small business owner, you have resources available that you use to operate your business. Think about how you can transition what you do into how you can help someone. And this does not mean instructional how-to things, you also can help someone emotionally by bringing a sense of togetherness and community.  Think outside of the box. Again, if you need help, reach out.

With this, you need to drop the pretenses that everything is okay. Because it’s not. Whatever your personal thoughts on this matter may be, empty shelves at the grocery store say otherwise. It’s okay to talk about COVID-19 because it is relevant. It is on people’s minds. But your page is not the place to spread the fear and frustration. Focus on positivity, long-term vision, and helpful information. Now is the time to build your brand and you will have to let down some pretenses to do it.

Speaking to Your Audience During COVID-19

Website

It is imperative that your website be clean and easy to use right now. It must drive any traffic you have coming in, to their purpose for being there. While it is a personal choice to make any adjustments to your website in light of COVID-19, know that if they are coming, there is a reason for it and clear direction is necessary.

As this is an ever-changing event, it is your socials that will be of key importance. Take the time now to make any adjustments you want to your website, but the main focus should be on reaching your audience where they are right now, and that is all over social media. Currently, audiences are making adjustments on all of the platforms but their main intention, their main source of use, has remained the same. With that, let’s dig deeper into social media.

Facebook

Facebook has traditionally been “all the things” about life, literally, ALL THE THINGS. But it has maintained its focus on connecting people, getting to know one another, and communicating. While some have already used the platform to bring people together for a common good – look at all the new groups forming and informative pages. You must take the time to evaluate and reach your audience on this platform now if you are on it.

This can be done many ways based on your specific business and your options are really limitless. Status updates, shares, photos, videos, Facebook live videos, YouTube videos, Zoom meetings shared to Facebook Live. In these, everyone knows that most people are working from home right now and with that comes certain, shall we say, unexpected complications?

Everyone I have had a video chat with this week has had the opportunity to meet Sir Barnabas AKA “Barney,” my pug poodle mix. And it’s okay! Because that is life right now. A few weeks ago, this would have really bothered me but now, we’re all in this boat together. It’s okay. And know that while everyone is getting a sneak peek into what it’s like in your home, you are getting a sneak peek into what it’s like in their homes too. No one has their shit together. Drop the pretense and embrace the chaos.

Instagram

Like Facebook, Instagram is dropping some of the pretenses. Things do not need to be as polished, but it does need to remain positive and informative. Everyone is struggling right now so anything upbeat, helpful, and true insight on what you are doing to help yourself are all things being discussed on this platform.

How this transitions into what you can discuss on Instagram about your business, is just that – helpful, positive, and let people in. We are social creatures and need socialization to survive. This is where you can dig more into your why, what you do in your business, and why you do it and go personal. This is the time you can make a really deep connection with your audience.

Twitter

Twitter has remained news and opinion focused. If you use this platform, try to stay news focused, informative, up to date, and pay close attention to trending hashtags and how they may be used to support your brand. This platform may be very time-consuming right now and can easily start to affect your mental health. Be careful of the amount of time spent on this and any other platform. If you are starting to feel tired, negative, irritable, frustrated, hopeless, angry, or any other negative emotion, it’s time to hop off and do something less stressful. Bake some cookies, Netflix and chill, anything that can give you a sense of peace.

LinkedIn

Rather predictably, as businesses nationwide started to close and transition over to virtual platforms, LinkedIn’s audience behavior took quite a hit. Thankfully, with the small business loans and grants that are being offered, this audience is finding their feet again. Again, helpful and informative are what this audience is looking for. We’ve had a lot of shit thrown at us in a short period of time, so make it easily digestible.

Just Be Real

While this is a broad overview, the sentiment remains the same. We’re all in this together and no one knows what to expect. This is a time when the full power of what social media is and what it can do for us as individuals and us as business owners can be realized. The way we work may very likely be forever changed from this. At Symbiotic Marketing, we were already set up to be primarily virtual, we were set up to work from our homes remotely and we have resources we use to make this work for us. But many of you are struggling because you do not have this in place. Let us help you.

Our proverbial masks are being taken down. There’s no where to hide. And why would you? You are a business owner. You are born to stand out. You are born to make a difference. You’ve got this. Throw your cape over your shoulder and just be real. That’s all anyone is looking for right now.

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