We’re living in a crazy time right now. The COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown has changed lives. It’s changed the way we’re doing business and there’s no sign things are going ‘back to normal’ any time soon.
So, let’s talk about strategies for getting your small business through this!
In this post, I want to share with you how to keep up on social media like Instagram and Facebook if your shop is closed or just not operating at full force right now.
Hi! I’m Mei, and I help makers, artists and designers create a consistent income selling their handmade products online.
I’ve been running my own handmade business, Tiny Hands, for over a decade and I’ve taken everything I know from my own success to help fellow business owners with Creative Hive since 2014. I’m working in the trenches with you guys with my own shops online.
I’m the owner of a small business just like you, stressing over sales in this topsy-turvy situation. And I want to share everything I know with you, so we can all get through this and still be successful, together!
I’ve seen so many small businesses temporarily closed because of the Coronavirus.
Maybe it’s because:
- Your state has put a ban on non-essential businesses operating
- Your studio space has been shut down
- Your kids are home from school and you just don’t have the time to operate your business
Whatever your situation, you might be wondering how to keep up on social media when you have nothing to show? Let’s talk about it!
I’m going to cover three main topics today:
- The importance of engagement
- Harnessing your existing content and three
- Great new content ideas to help keep you inspired, because I’m sure, if anything, Covid-19 is making you feel this weird sense of lack of motivation to do anything
What do you think of when you think ‘social media’? You think of posting photos, right? That’s what everyone first thinks of.
The truth is that posting stuff is only half of the story.
The reason it’s called ‘social’ media is that you’re supposed to be social! Engagement is what sets social media apart from other kinds of marketing like email marketing or blogging or search engine optimization.
When social media started many years ago, it was truly a place for people to talk to each other and stay connected and make new friends. Then in recent years, social media turned into something more like a TV show. Almost like Netflix. You’re not there to talk to people, per se, but to look at pretty photos and watch viral 20-second videos of cute puppies and cats.
But there is a shift happening. We’re actually going back, full circle to what social media looked like in the very beginning.
Facebook and Instagram (along with other platforms) created algorithms to force this element of being social back into our focal point. The people that socialize well, are the ones that win.
When stuff hits the fan, the value of building genuine connections and relationships with customers pays off.
I can guarantee that unless your product is super trendy or just really relevant right now (like soaps or face masks) you’re not likely to gain a lot of new customers at a time like this. But if you’ve become a stand-by-favorite, your dedicated customers will keep returning.
With all this social distancing happening, customers are spending some extra time on social media. Take advantage of this time to really connect with your customers!
What does real engagement look like?
- Commenting on posts
- Searching relevant hashtags and having genuine conversations with other people
- Following new accounts
- Sending DMs and connecting with publications or influencers that you’ve been meaning to
Keep commenting, liking, establishing new relationships, and making new friends.
Even if you don’t post a single thing, engaging with other people will still keep you in the game. Engaging with other people may even be more important than posting content.
Let’s talk about content.
Maybe you aren’t making any new products or designs. It’s totally fine to say that to your audience and customers.
Be honest. Be real.
People on social media celebrate people who are real, raw, and honest as long as they’re being positive about it. Which I know sounds like a contradiction, but it’s a fine balance that can be done.
Now is a great time to think about your business as more than just a collection of products.
Why did you start your business in the first place? Did you start making baby onesies because when your sister was pregnant and you desperately wanted one with a sassy message and you couldn’t find any that you liked? Tell that story!
Heck, wouldn’t it be super fun to show us where your 12-year-old niece is now?
Here’s another thing to think about:
- Why do you use certain materials?
- Can you show them to your audience?
- Can you talk about your process?
This is the real ‘behind the scenes’ content you should really be posting all the time, but when business is booming, we often forget!
Now’s your chance.
If you’re feeling low on photos and you don’t have time to take new ones, search back through your archives. Chances are, you have lots of images that you haven’t used.
Check your last photoshoot, is there a different angle that you can share? Or can you Photoshop your photo and zoom in a little bit? That can make it look like a totally new photo!
Trust me, your followers aren’t going to notice if you reposted an old photo. They’re not paying attention to stuff like that, only you are because you’re closest to your work.
I have so many photos that I can post five times a week and still have enough content to last me two to three years. No one’s going to remember I posted that same photo two years ago.
And yes, it’s totally fine to slow down on your posting! You don’t have to post every day, a few times a week is good enough. What’s important is that you’re still showing up.
3. New Content Ideas
What if you still need some content ideas? I’ll share some great ones you can steal right now.
The best part is they’ll still be good ideas 6 months from now, so write these down!
Do a challenge.
It can be anything, as long as it’s something that would connect with your audience.
You’ll likely end up with loads of customer photos you can use on your own social media as a result!
For example, if you make soap, start a ‘two weeks of awesome self-care’ challenge, where you release a new tip each day for relaxing, and encourage others to join in.
If you’re a knitwear designer, it might be a knit-a-long. Connect with a yarn company to increase your reach and post daily tips or customer photos.
If you make home décor products, plan a nesting event. Chat about cleaning/organizing spaces and see how you can bring in a virtual partner to make it a team event! Give tips for decorating that coincidentally, but not coincidentally, make your product shine!
Be strategic with your challenge. Have a theme for it while tying it in with your product so you’re still relevant and it’s not like coming out of left field.
Another idea is to share a unique use for your product.
Say you make soap. Everyone knows you can use it to wash your face. But does it also double as a shampoo or delicate garment wash?
Or say as a jewelry designer, can you show your customers a new and creative way to wear your popular designs? Maybe a necklace doubled to be a cool, stacked bracelet?
These days, people are feeling thrifty because of lost jobs, but they’re also feeling splurge-y because they’re stuck at home all day and bored, so if you can show your product has multiple uses, you might show you’re the splurge worth going for!
You could also film a tutorial. Okay, I know you think it’s completely obvious how to use your most popular product, but film a tutorial, anyway.
And yes, that means if you sell soap, set up a camera in your bathroom (take a few minutes to clean it up a bit first if it’s not totally camera-ready) and then actually film yourself washing your face and talking about your product and how you would use it.
You could even tell us about the moisturizer you use afterward.
An in-depth tutorial is one of the best pieces of content you can make.
- You’re showing yourself in action, which endears your customers to you as a real person
- There is always going to be someone who learns something and my bet is you’re sharing a tidbit or two that end up being useful for lots of people.
Something we often forget as makers that we’re the experts at what we do. And our customers buy from us because they don’t know what we know about our craft and product.
I know a lot of people are probably thinking they have nothing worth saying or nothing new to share with people that they don’t already know, but trust me, that’s usually not the case!
AAnd another great thing about videos like this is you’re making evergreen content you can use for years! You can put it on your blog, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and even your email marketing or on your website.
Gather your favorite resources to share. Get together your favorite blog posts, videos, magazines, Instagram accounts, Youtube channels and share them with your audience.
Be a curator of amazing content.
I’m sure you’ve seen all of those top 10, top 12 best restaurants lists, or best make up product lists.
There’s a reason sites like Buzzfeed and Huffington Post keep writing content like that.
It’s because people love seeing curated lists of products or resources. Someone else has already done the hard work to test or research those things and put them together in a neat pile for other people to see.
I hope this gives you some great ideas about what to post on social media, even if your shop isn’t currently open or if you’re not making any new things. If you stay engaged, you’ll be well-positioned when your shop is open again!