Times are strange to say the least and, although we’d prefer COVID-19 to be a virus of the past, times are going to remain strange for a while longer. I’m honestly half expecting locusts at this point.
It’s during these times, however, that focusing on your owned media, the communication channels you created and have control over, can make a huge difference on how others perceive, learn from and interact with your brand and business.
For example, during the stay at home order, everyone had no choice but to get a little creative using what we did have — technology. Game nights and dating moved to FaceTime, and sourdough starter recipes were pinned on every mother’s Pinterest board. In the professional world, hairstylists started vlogging and local restaurants offered online ordering via their websites. Because these individuals, businesses and organizations were putting their owned media to work, many gained a following they may have not otherwise received.
You can do the same by taking advantage of this time, especially while we’re watching our budgets, as an opportunity to strengthen your relationship and engage with your clients/followers — and even the media. Connecting with your communications team to help you do so effectively is a great start as they have important insight on brand development but can also view your channels from an outside or customer perspective.
Here are a few ways capitalizing on your owned channels will help you through these strange times:
Social Media Platforms
So you have Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts, great — now make sure you’re putting them to your best use to increase your following. Start by evaluating your current process and asking yourself: How often do I use my accounts? Am I covering everything my business has to offer? What are my customers looking for? Am I providing that?
Once you understand where you are and where you want to be, develop a plan that details how you’ll cover these topics and who will be in charge of managing your accounts. Next, make a list of the kind of information you want to present, the graphics you’ll use and where you’ll get them from and what you want your tone to be (make sure this is on brand — a nonprofit would not do well taking a sheet out of Wendy’s book). Finally, make sure you’re engaging your followers by asking them to share photos, liking their comments, answering their questions, creating polls and being more personable (yet still professional).
A popular tool used to boost your search engine optimization and drive people to your website is starting a blog. What’s happening in your industry? What key insights does your business provide in comparison with your competition? What are the problems you face in your profession? Create a list of topics you’ve always wanted your clients and potential clients to know more about and go from there.
This should be a steady commitment, at least weekly. As you know, at SPR we each take turns writing blogs, not only to voice our different thoughts and experiences, but to make sure each of us share in the work. Blogging well will always take longer than you think.
Before you get started, make sure you’ll be able to continue to commit once we’re back in the full swing of things. Starting a blog and then dropping off quickly is not typically a green flag for prospective customers.
If you want to keep your clients/followers updated on all the latest from your company, whether that’s promotions, new offerings or (virtual) events, consider creating an e-newsletter. These updates can range anywhere from daily to annual emails based on the content you have planned. Better yet, many e-newsletter platforms, such as MailChimp and Constant Contact have free plans that still offer intuitive websites, template customization and easy list management. Again, make sure this is something you can stick with long term before getting started.
By using your owned media to its fullest potential, you’ll be able to make it easy for your audience to stay aware and interested. The above suggestions certainly require time but are worth the investment now for when the strange starts fading and we can get back to our COVID-free lives.