The South Granville small business guide to social media in the age of COVID-19

The Coronavirus is a challenge for South Granville businesses. To help with your business communications, the South Granville BIA put together a succinct guide to applicable social media advice, basic crisis communication principles, useful resources and links to hands-on support contacts from the Vancouver business community.

Use social media to communicate your business’ concerns. It provides great tools to connect with your community in the current times of uncertainty. When you use it, please consider the following guidelines:

Context is king
Think about the context of your content that is going out to the world. Now, it stands alongside news about uncertainty, social distancing and struggling businesses and therefore employees. It should be appropriate and considerate.

Reassess your content
Ask yourself: ‘Does this campaign/post/message still work today?’ As an example: If your content contains any messages about going out and spending time with friends to explore the city – this is not the time. Reassess your images, captions and hashtags for tone and appropriateness, as well.

During this uncertain time people crave connection and entertainment. Instead of promoting deals and blunt sales offers think about what really matters for your audience now. Establish and cultivate the relationships you have with your stakeholders to create a sustainable positive impact for your brand.

Possible topics can be:

  • reassurance and connection to your community
  • inform about prevention measures you take to flatten the curve
  • the newest developments for your business
  • opening up about your situation and your struggles
  • how you could help or how you could be helped
  • share your Covid-19 story

Your stakeholders are:

  • employees and their families
  • Management
  • Suppliers and vendors
  • Contractors
  • Customers and clients

Tips for Facebook

  1. Encourage people to comment.
  2. Create shareable content, use Facebook Live if you like.
  3. Put a date on time-sensitive topics.
  4. Share other people’s stories or other businesses from your community or reliable news sources
  5. If you have to cancel planned events, try hosting a webinar or organize live sessions through Facebook or Instagram.
  6. Use the pin function to keep an important post on top of your page.
  7. Reply promptly to incoming messages.

Tips for Instagram

  1. Follow stakeholder accounts.
  2. Create video content
    • about your situation
    • to take your audience behind the scenes of your business
    • about the services you still offer
    • about a day in this new life
  3. Put these videos in a highlight on your profile or set as IGTV.
  4. Use the same social media handle as on Facebook.
  5. Share stakeholder videos & photos in your stories.
  6. Use cohesive branding.
  7. Use relevant hashtags when you talk about how Covid-19 is affecting you: #flattenthecurve #stayhome #shoplocal #supportlocal #localbusiness + relevant hashtags for your own business.

Update: You can use #coronavirus and #covid19 but it is very unlikely that people see your content there. Instagram sends everyone looking at these hashtags specifically, to the according government pages to avoid false information about the pandemic going around. 

Klick here for more content & storytelling ideas.

South Granville’s best practice example: Stablehouse Bistro

That all being said, please keep in mind: Instagram and Facebook are social channels. Authenticity and connection are key! If humour is part of your brand’s communication – you can still use that. A great example to make the best of this situation and even turn it around into something positive, is Stablehouse Bistro.

They provide a digital wine 101 from Stablehouse Bistro’s sommelier Matthew Landry: if someone buys a gift card for $10 minimum, he or she will get a personalized educational video on a wine topic of their choice. See for yourself how Matthew provides a moment of comic relief for their community here.

Basic principles that you should follow in times of crisis communication:

  • Keep a calm voice.
  • Be honest.
  • Don’t sugar coat.

And in this case:

  • Be a reliable source. If you talk about the crisis, get your information from reliable and official sources. In the case of Covid-19, this is the World Health Organization and your national and local government homepage.

The Vancouver business community is here to help and support each other:

Another tip:

Update your Google business hours and description to keep your community and customers in the know.

More resources: