Marketing in Times of Uncertainty: Tips From Top Marketing Pros - 47 minutes read

Are you unsure how to approach your marketing during a crisis? Looking for wisdom from well-known marketers?

To help you make wise decisions during trying times, we tapped the minds of top marketers.

#1: Your Business Must Sell to Survive: Daniel Harmon

The Question: Should I continue to promote my business on social media? How?

The Question: Should I be running ads on social media? What kind of messaging should I use?

Yes! Absolutely! Marketing on social media is like having a digital salesperson. Imagine firing all your salespeople and expecting revenue to continue. Should you adjust what isn’t driving results? Of course. Should you continue to try new messages and offers that fit the context of this environment? Absolutely.

Yes. For the same reasons as above. Let’s talk more about what kind of message you should not be using. Don’t be tone-deaf (show your creative to others before you throw it in a campaign and offend people). Focus on the clarity of your message and don’t be afraid to ask for the sale. Show clearly how your brand solves a problem or satisfies a need people have.

The Question: How can I use social media to move my transactions online?

Video is still the most powerful format for quickly taking people from zero exposure of your brand to sold. Lean into video for your ad campaigns. Lean into video for improving the power of your message on your landing/squeeze pages. Shoot scrappy stuff on your phone while you’re “social distancing.” Jimmy Fallon is doing it for the Tonight Show. Why can’t you?

If you need a starting point for your video, we’re offering our 14-Day Script Writing Challenge for free at We just ask that you practice social distancing to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

The Question: Should my social media strategy change? How?

Now is not the time to focus on vanity metrics (views, likes, reactions, comments, shares, impressions, etc.). They’re very alluring but you need sales! Sales are the lifeblood of your business. The brands that don’t maintain sales in these tough times will likely struggle to survive. No matter how good your content looks like it’s doing, if it’s not driving people to buy, you need to find out where and why you’re losing your customer and then fix it! Serve the customer. Follow the data. Follow the sales.

Daniel Harmon is co-founder and chief creative officer at Harmon Brothers, the creators of ads for brands such as Squatty Potty, Purple, Chatbooks, and FiberFix.

#2: Adjust the Tone of Your Social Posts: Mari Smith

The Question: Should I continue to promote my business on social media? How?

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I would recommend using this time to evaluate your offerings. And only continue with the social media content that feels sensitive and relevant to your audience. Continue to provide value, no matter what. But, depending on the type of product or service and your industry, if you’re still in a position to promote online, first keep in mind the likely current emotional and mental state of most of your audience. Many small business owners are feeling immense fear around their livelihood. And, on a personal level, many people are in shock and are deeply grieving the loss of the life they knew only a week or two ago.

As marketers, those who are incredibly sensitive to the emotional state of others can use this time to build community and foster deeper relationships with customers, peers, and even competitors. Look for cooperative and collaborative opportunities. Look for ways you can be of service. Consider generous pricing models, deferred payment plans, or pay-what-you-can-afford options.

The Question: Should I be running ads on social media? What kind of messaging should I use?

Pay close attention to your own Facebook and Instagram feeds at this time and notice which paid placements feel sensitive to the current climate and are well-worded versus those that feel entirely disruptive and tone-deaf. (I’ve seen several of the latter myself but also some of the former.)

Just as with your organic social media content, strive to reword your messaging so it truly speaks to the difficulties your audience is facing right now. For example, I’m running one paid placement campaign with one of my brand ambassador partners just now, an online video tool. I hosted a Facebook live video broadcast and used the following wording for the paid placement: “Using Video to Communicate More Deeply With Your Audience. With all of us doing our very best to communicate digitally during this time of isolation and challenge, we can use the power of video to more effectively connect with our customers and prospects.” There was a bit more to the narrative but that gives you an idea.

The Question: How can I use social media to move my transactions online?

If you typically host in-person events for your audience, transitioning to virtual events can be relatively straightforward. Tools such as Zoom or BlueJeans are great choices. Also, check out HeySummit for multi-speaker/multi-session events. Use your social channels to promote these online events. But keep in mind that registrations may not be as high as expected while your audience is adjusting to the massive changes happening right now.

If you’re a product-based, brick-and-mortar business, transitioning to selling online can take a bit of time if you weren’t already set up to sell digitally. Strive to start small and build up. Make use of a Facebook or Instagram shop. Check out platforms such as Shopify or BigCommerce, and marketplaces like Etsy, eBay, and Amazon. As the restrictions continue, unfortunately, deliveries will continue to be impacted. Hopefully, this just means being delayed a bit.

If you’re a service-based business that typically meets clients/customers/patients in person consider how, during this time of social distancing, you can take your knowledge and teach online in a group/virtual class setting. Or meet with clients one on one virtually. Tools like Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, or Messenger video calls can work well.

Even if you’re used to doing absolutely everything in person and are questioning how you could produce something of value to sell online, there are definitely ways to get started relatively easily. For instance, try setting up a Facebook group and just using your phone or webcam to do live video broadcasts. You can use a PayPal link to ask your audience to pay what they can afford. Or consider looking at Patreon. By way of example, I was speaking with a leader in the bridal business who has a large group of wedding makeup artists. These artists are taking their knowledge and meeting virtually with clients one on one to do virtual makeup lessons, review cosmetic brands, and go through “What’s in your makeup bag?” reviews. The goal is to add more individual, customized value versus what someone could find online themselves.

The Question: Should my social media strategy change? How?

Absolutely, it should change. Others may disagree with me here and that’s fine. Each of us has to find his/her own way. I chose to be on personal lockdown for a full week before it was mandated by California’s governor, given the gravity of the global situation. And once the outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, one of the first things I did with my own daily posts on Twitter and LinkedIn was to remove any ‘playful’ emojis and any overly exuberant language. These things are my style and brand. I wanted to be extremely sensitive to toning things down and honoring that people in my audience are likely feeling a lot of fear. I looked for helpful, informative, credible resources to share.

I shifted my content strategy on both my Facebook page and primary group to asking how I could help, how I could be of service. I’ve increased how often I’m leading Facebook Live video broadcasts, too, which is one of the most effective ways to connect with your community on a much more personal level. I’ve also been emailing my subscribers with a similar tone. I’m striving to be mindful of avoiding using all the buzzwords (pandemic, coronavirus, COVID-19, etc.) in my content and messaging, as those have become such trigger words for emotion. (I just received an email from a marketer, as I write this, about the coming ‘coron-apocalypse’; like I say, to each his own. But because that’s so dissonant from my style, I unsubscribed from that marketer’s list.) Instead, I want to be a voice of calm, a voice of hope, and a voice of peace to my audience.

In terms of how to change your own strategy, I would say to just look into your own heart right now. Yes, people are fighting for their livelihoods, and that’s completely understandable. I suggest you find a way to be innovative, creative, collaborative, and mostly, to ensure the absolute safety of your audience first and foremost.

Mari Smith is the premier Facebook Marketing Expert, a social media thought leader, author of The New Relationship Marketing, and co-author of Facebook Marketing: An Hour a Day.

#3: Use Content to Serve and Help Your Customers: Michael Stelzner

The Question: Should I continue to promote my business on social media? How?

In the middle of a global crisis, it’s important to put yourself in the shoes of your prospects. If they are focused on stocking up on groceries, getting their children acclimated to homeschooling, or the health and safety of their family, you might want to rethink your strategy.

If your product or service doesn’t help people resolve those personal needs, consider pausing your direct marketing—for a short time and until you get a new strategy in place (more on that coming up).

That said, if you’re selling the right kinds of products and services, you should be marketing. For example, if you’re a restaurant, consider running ads that promote your delivery services. If you help businesses produce tele-events, offer remote learning tools, or help schools or churches go live on video, get your message out there. Let people know you can help them.

If you don’t offer the above types of services, use this time to shift from direct selling to content marketing that is useful to your prospects. Why? Right now, people are watching videos more, reading more, and listening more. How can you use video, blog posts, and podcasts to show up and help your customers solve the problems they’re facing right now?

When you do move back into a regular marketing cadence, remember that the world is in shock and your messaging will need to be crafted with empathy and wisdom.

Mike Stelzner is the founder of Social Media Examiner, author of the books Launch and Writing White Papers, and host of the Social Media Marketing Podcast.

#4: Reinforce Stability: Derral Eves

The Question: Should I continue to promote my business on social media? How?

Of course you should continue with your social marketing, no matter what type of business or service you offer.

Seize on this opportunity to do organic and paid strategies that are the opposite of what’s currently going around: fear. Fear-based marketing can be effective but it’s temporary and can be damaging for you in the long run.

Long-term businesses stick around by reinforcing the opposite of fear: stability. Stability and predictability should be what you’ve always offered in the past and what you should continue to offer now and in the future, global pandemic or not.

Analyze what you can bring to your customers, both current and potential, and figure out how your message can rise above the noise. Connect with your customers and offer them value, consistency, and hope.

Derral Eves is founder of VidSummit, a recognized YouTube and audience development strategist, and consultant.

#5: Leverage Video to Stay Connected: David Meerman Scott

The Question: Should I continue to promote my business on social media? How?

The Question: Should my social media strategy change? How?

I think rather than “promote my business,” it’s much better to consider how you can help people in this difficult time. Don’t sell products and services. Instead, think of ways to give back to the community by providing information of value to people via social media.

When we can’t meet people face to face, video is an excellent tool. I recommend that social media marketers step up their use of video.

Mirror neurons are a group of cells in the premotor cortex and inferior parietal cortex of our brains. These neurons are fascinating because they not only activate when we perform an action—biting into an apple—they also fire when we observe somebody else performing the same action!

People unconsciously bond with actors and artists and speakers they see on screens and on stage because of mirror neurons. Mirror neurons also help explain why we feel that we “know” movie stars and television personalities. Our brains tell us that we’ve been in their personal space because of the feeling of proximity generated by our seeing them up close on the screen.

The same concepts can be applied to videos. Businesses can use the concept of mirror neurons to build fans by paying close attention to camera placement and how you interact with the camera:

Crop the video so the video presenter appears to be in the viewer’s personal space. Typically, this means placing the camera about 4 feet away or using a lens to make it seem that you’re that close to the camera.

When you present, look directly into the camera as much as possible.

Adopt a friendly and open approach by imagining the camera is a close personal friend.

Have an interesting background in the room where you present.

David Meerman Scott is a marketing strategist, entrepreneur, advisor to emerging companies, VC strategic partner, and author of 10 books including The New Rules of Marketing & PR.

#6: Assess Your Future Content Queue: Neal Schaffer

The Question: Should I continue to promote my business on social media? How?

The current pandemic is making us question everything we do both as people and for business. However, regardless of what’s thrown our way, we and our businesses always need to fight to survive. Therefore, I have told my clients to continue to promote their business on social media as normal. Most businesses outside of a few industries like travel or hospitality are still operating normally. As long as that’s the case, you’re missing out on opportunities if you’re not promoting your business on social media.

With a recession undoubtedly about to hit us, as well as competing with ongoing conversations about the pandemic and its effects, the ROI of those promotions may go down. To build long-term trust with potential clients so your business can thrive once everything gets back to normal, it’s critical that you don’t simply pull the plug and instead hold the course. You probably want to do a sanity check and ensure that your promotions are as compassionate and empathetic as possible in light of what we’re going through. Perhaps make the content more educational or offer special help if you can afford to.

The Question: Should I be running ads on social media? What kind of messaging should I use?

With a probable downturn in the economy, the ROI of your ads on social media may be lower than normal. Furthermore, you’re obviously competing with a lot of information about the impact that the coronavirus is having worldwide. However, if you’re in business to truly serve others, this is also an opportunity to show the compassionate side of your company. I would also tend to believe that because we’re probably entering a recession, ad spend by bigger brands might decrease and therefore the costs you incur might also be lower now.

That being said, if you’re going to advertise, you need to be cognizant of the situation that most people are in and make sure your messaging is sensitive to that. If you are an eCommerce company or provide some sort of virtual service, people can still do business with you as normal. If you require people to come into a physical store or come into physical contact with you, it’s going to be much more difficult to generate ROI from ads unless you pivot to providing similar service virtually. You need to consider all of these things when running ads on social media today.

However, just like the ads we still see on TV and online, as long as you run a coronavirus sanity check against your ads, there’s no reason to simply stop advertising unless that data shows you that the ROI isn’t high enough or ad feedback shows that this isn’t optimal timing. If that’s the case, you need to revise and optimize your messaging and choice of marketing channels.

The Question: How can I use social media to move my transactions online?

If there’s one thing that the coronavirus has taught us, it’s that the impact of the pandemic will force more people to transact online. Therefore it will be even more important for businesses to shift more marketing budget to digital and social media marketing. The easiest way to use social media to move transactions online isn’t to use it to broadcast advertising or promotional messages, but to use it in these times as an educational channel to let people in other businesses know how you can support them through these tough times. Reminding them of all of the online support that your company offers and any new ways of engaging with your business online is great content to provide on social media to increase trust with users; inform and influence them to move more transactions online.

The Question: Should my social media strategy change? How?

I don’t believe you need to change the core of your social media strategy. It’s probably a smart move to make a slight, potentially temporary pivot in light of the current situation. I don’t see much change in who’s using what social network, but clearly you’re competing organically against a lot of content that people are consuming about the coronavirus pandemic. My advice would be as follows:

Take a look at all of your content and messaging in your queues set to publish in social media and do a sanity check to make sure that they’re still relevant and sensitive in light of what’s going on today.

When looking at your editorial calendar for the next few months, be sensitive to the fact that elements of this pandemic might remain. Try to make sure that your subject matter is aligned with current realities and that there are empathy and compassion in your tone going forward.

Keep a close eye on your social media analytics and look for changes in how social media users are engaging with your content and your channels. It might be a good idea to decrease the frequency of publishing if you see that people are simply not engaging with your content. If you still want to try to hit KPIs that are essential to your program, this is where you might need to get a little bit creative; and create new content complementing that with paid social to provide updates on how you can help and serve your customers and potential clients in these troubled times. Finally, it might be time to revisit your goals for this year in light of what has happened and perhaps scale down your expectations and your activity. You may want to shift time and resources to keep in better touch with your current customers and understand how to serve them better. In other words, it might be a good time to shift a little bit of your social media marketing to customer success marketing. In doing so, you’re going to get a lot of great input as to how coronavirus is affecting your customers and how you should further pivot your business for long-term success.

Neal Schaffer is president of PDCA Social, teaches digital media to executives across the globe, and is the author of four books including The Age of Influence – The Power of Influencers to Elevate Your Brand.

#7: Pause and Adapt Your Messaging: AJ Wilcox

The Question: Should I continue to promote my business on social media? How?

Yes, you absolutely should, but you need to adapt. During a crisis, it can be perceived as tone-deaf to actively market and share, but agile teams have the ability to customize their message and offers to be a resource to those thinking about the crisis, rather than coming off as ignoring those feeling pain.

I recommend pausing marketing activity during the initial shock of the crisis, and then finding ways to adapt your message to help those in crisis. Avoid any messaging that would make it appear that you’re exploiting the crisis rather than providing value.

Sharing organically, both as a company and as individuals, on LinkedIn is incredibly effective as it’s one of the only channels where organic sharing is still given a lot of exposure. Moving from commercial messages to messages of inspiration and hope is an excellent move.

At some point, people will become tired of talking about the crisis, and you’ll be able to go back to business as usual.

AJ Wilcox, founder of B2Linked, LinkedIn Certified Ads Partner, and host of The LinkedIn Ads Show, has scaled and managed some of the world’s most sophisticated accounts worldwide.

#8: Educate With Empathy: Robert Rose

The Question: Should I continue to promote my business on social media? How?

The question to ask yourself isn’t “When do I start marketing again?”—but rather, “What is it I’m marketing?”

How are you adding value to a potential customer’s experience? Whenever you decide is correct and whatever channels you use—now is the time for your content to be inspirational, educational, or useful. But, most importantly, this content has to be in context with where your audience is. If your audience’s house is on fire, now isn’t the time to educate them on fire safety.

For instance, if you’re in financial services, this isn’t the week to educate people on maximizing their 401K. Rather, you might provide useful and comforting advice about what’s really going on in the markets. There has never been a better time to get your content marketing strategy in order and into a more proactive editorial stance that can shift at a moment’s notice.

Robert Rose has provided strategic marketing advice and counsel for global brands such as Facebook, Salesforce, NASA, CVS Health, McCormick Spices, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

#9: Humanize Your Brand Voice: Rich Brooks

The Question: Should my social media strategy change? How?

Whatever your social media strategy is now, your social media posts for the #newnormal should be filled with empathy and understanding.

Most of your audience is stuck at home. Some have lost their jobs. Their businesses are struggling. They are filled with concern, anxiety, and possibly even despair. Being tone-deaf can get you enshrined in the “social media horror stories” hall of fame.

That doesn’t mean that your posts have to be filled with doom and gloom, but seeing how you can help people rather than pitch people is a start. Some of this depends on who you are and what your brand voice is.

Are you inspirational? Share quotes and videos that will raise spirits and remind us that this too will pass and that we’ll get through this together.

Are you serious? Show people how you’ve got their back and how they can rely on you in difficult times.

Are you irreverent? Share memes and GIFs that get a laugh. After all, we all need a laugh these days.

And show people how you and your team are coping. We’re traditionally an in-office company but that has changed. So we posted a GIF of our morning staff meeting held on Zoom and another where we celebrated happy hour together… at our own homes. It was BYOB by necessity.

Be human.

Rich Brooks is president of flyte new media and founder of the Agents of Change podcast and conference.

#10: Use Social Media More: Chris Brogan

The Question: Should I continue to promote my business on social media? How?

The Question: Should I be running ads on social media? What kind of messaging should I use?

Absolutely, but you might also consider using the best (and first) online social media: email. Email marketing is still double-digits more effective than things like Twitter and Facebook.

If you sell B2C, absolutely. If you sell B2B, it’s a bit more nebulous. You need to set appointments just like the old days.

The Question: How can I use social media to move my transactions online?

Social media makes for great digital customer service and it helps you guide people to virtual marketplaces but you have to have set up your website or other systems to promote distance sales.

The Question: Should my social media strategy change? How?

I don’t consider social media a strategy. It’s a channel. You should use it more during these times.

Chris Brogan is president of Chris Brogan Media, CEO of Owner Media Groups, and the author of nine books. He has spoken for or consulted with brands such as Disney, Coke, Google, GM, Microsoft, Coldwell Banker, Titleist, Scotts, Humana Health, Cisco, Sony USA, and many more.

#11: Understand Your Relationship With Your Customers: Chris Strub

The Question: Should I continue to promote my business on social media? How?

Social media is, and always has been, a place where people go to talk about what’s going on in their lives with the people who matter to them. Businesses have always been a necessary-but-not-happily-invited guest because while we all have our own work interests, no one goes to social media to intentionally consume advertising.

However, the glacially paced generational shift among businesses to “be more human,” as Mark Schaefer says, has been greatly accelerated by the ongoing circumstances related to the coronavirus. Now more than ever before, people are looking to social media for comfort, for help, and in an era of social distancing, for friendship.

Businesses that have already recognized the fragility of their role in the social media ecosystem and whose ethos is already defined by a sincere culture of compassion, awareness, and understanding have already earned the trust of their customer base. They may not even need to continue promoting their business on social media.

On the contrary, businesses that have historically just used social media as a promotional tool and continue along such a path will see not only their ‘results’ diminish and disappear—they’ll inevitably start to experience backlash as tone-deaf and insensitive.

Chris Strub is an award-winning mobile storyteller, social media speaker, and author who works with nonprofits and giving days nationwide.

#12: Help and Give Back to Your Community: Duncan Wardle

The Question: Should I continue to promote my business on social media? How?

The question companies should be asking themselves is, “How can I use my social media presence to support my community?” Right now, the goal isn’t to promote your business but to offer leadership and support during this unprecedented time. Therefore, your posts should at least meet ONE of the following requirements:

Educate: Does your post educate your followers on a relevant topic? Can you help them learn about resources in your niche that will help them in this difficult time? What can you offer for free that will provide educational value to your community?

Empower: Does your post empower people? Motivational quotes, inspirational stories, and practical tools are all examples of how we can empower our community.

Community: If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, how can you support your community during this time? Do you have products or services that you can give back to the community? (To illustrate, a local distillery making hand sanitizer for free.) Can you showcase other resources that are available in your community?

Do you have or can you create a custom community to help your followers through this time? To visualize this, a national yoga studio chain in Canada was forced to close all its studios, so they created a Facebook group and instructors across the nation are offering free yoga classes every day. This provides value and keeps clients engaged with the brand, which may see new potential clients joining the studio once the doors reopen.

Collaboration: If there ever was a more important time to collaborate, this is it. “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” —Helen Keller

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Entertain (with caution): With a million memes, quotes, and hilarious examples of “COVID-19 survival,” be wary of sharing at this time. We recommend keeping those jokes to personal Facebook feeds, not as a brand strategy. This is a very trying time for everyone so ensuring your strategy is thoughtful, kind, and supportive at all times is paramount.

Engage (with caution): Engaging and creating a community has always been what social media is about; however, if it looks like you’re engaging to help grow YOUR brand during this time, well then, it’s not the appropriate post. Now isn’t the time to self-promote. Help and serve others first.

The Question: Should I be running ads on social media? What kind of messaging should I use?

Ask yourself why you’re running ads. Are you running ads because you always run ads? Are you running ads to meet your quotas at the end of the month?

Right now, ads need to be placed with extreme caution because now is not the time for businesses to be promoting themselves. People are facing uncertainty financially, are concerned about their health, and their families’ well-being. An ad could send the wrong message about priorities and hurt your relationship with current and potential consumers.

If you choose to place ads, be sure that they’re customer-centric and add value to anyone who sees them. Focus on providing free tools and resources. Or save your ad budget until such a time that it’s appropriate to advertise again.

The Question: How can I use social media to move my transactions online?

While everyone is anxious to build an online revenue stream, the focus of moving online should be to give back to your community at this time. Focus on building out groups and communities that can offer support. Whether it’s offering specific expertise or a way of staying connected while everyone is practicing social distancing, put in extra effort to empower and support your community. This is a phenomenal opportunity to create meaningful connections with your followers that you may not ever have again.

The Question: Should my social media strategy change? How?

Every social media strategy is different, and with things changing daily, we recommend that you be open to adjusting your strategy daily as well. Here are some excellent examples we’ve seen of how companies have adjusted their feeds to a community-centric approach:

Chiropractor to Community: Rebound Sport and Spine is a neighborhood chiropractor. When COVID-19 entered the community, the clinic voluntarily shut down to protect their clients and staff, and then turned their whole marketing strategy over to the community. Now they’re focusing on the businesses, leaders, and community members who are providing exemplary services, new neighborhood experiences, and creative ways to light up the community. They are crowdsourcing ideas daily from locals and providing resources and inspiration to their community during this trying time.

Coworking Space to Entrepreneurial Launch: Launchpad Coworking Space may have temporarily closed their doors but they’ve opened their social feeds to support local entrepreneurs in their community. Every day, they feature local businesses in their neighborhood that are creating services for clients. This includes a local tap house that was forced to close but opened up their services for beer delivery. Another feature included a local children’s yoga studio that’s offering free children’s yoga classes every morning at 10 AM. Entrepreneurs are the heart of the community and Launchpad has found a way to shine a light on them and the services they offer to the neighborhood.

Duncan Wardle, the former vice president of innovation & creativity at The Walt Disney Company, is a world-renowned creativity speaker; Jami Savage also contributed to this entry.

#13: Give Rather Than Take: Carlos Gil

The Question: Should I continue to promote my business on social media? How?

The Question: Should I be running ads on social media? What kind of messaging should I use?

There’s nothing wrong with promoting your business on social media during this time of crisis. While other agencies and companies scramble to stay afloat, potential clients may need your services (example: copywriting, graphic design, video editing, etc.) due to various reasons such as a reduction in workforce or employees required to work from home. Now is when you should speed up while others slow down.

It’s okay to run ads on social media but be empathetic and refrain from using language that might cause fear or appear as though you’re capitalizing on chaos (for instance: “End of Days Sale!” or “Limited Time Coronavirus Offer!”). Instead, run a contest or giveaway that still promotes your product without relying on running a paid ad on Facebook. To visualize this, knowing that many are working from home or self-isolating at home, I decided to run a giveaway recently on my Instagram, which cost nothing except a few books.

The Question: Should my social media strategy change? How?

Yes! Leverage your “social currency” (following) to give value to others; for example, using Twitter as a platform to crowdsource random acts of kindness or a LinkedIn post as a makeshift job board. In this economy, giving rather than taking will repay itself tenfold years after this crisis blows over.

Carlos Gil, founder of Gil Media Co. and author of The End of Marketing: Humanizing Your Brand in the Age of Social Media and AI, is an award-winning digital storyteller with over a decade of experience leading social media strategy for global brands including LinkedIn, Winn-Dixie, Save-A-Lot, and BMC Software.

#14: Advertise With Care: Charlie Lawrance

The Question: Should I be running ads on social media? What kind of messaging should I use?

There are three scenarios you might be in right now when it comes to Facebook and Instagram advertising.

The first is if you’re already running ad campaigns and they’re still delivering good results for your business. If this is the case, then you shouldn’t stop advertising. Some advertisers in certain verticals such as eCommerce have seen a dramatic increase in sales over the last few weeks.

The second, more unfortunate position you might be in is if your business is seriously affected by the global coronavirus crisis and your current advertising has decreased dramatically in effectiveness. For instance, your supply chain has been affected or your route to market such as a physical retail location is having to close under government advice. Unless you can adapt your business to bring your customers to purchasing online, you should stop advertising and use the money elsewhere in the business.

The third and final scenario you might find yourself in is that you aren’t advertising but think you should start and can capitalize on current events. There’s a fine line on what’s appropriate at a time like this. Facebook has already taken action to ban the sale of virus-related products such as masks and hand sanitizer that people were selling at inflated prices. This predatory practice is unacceptable and immoral and I’m glad Facebook has stopped those advertisers.

One reason to start advertising your business is if it fits into a vertical that will do well based on the changes in consumer behavior we’re seeing. People are now going to be spending more time at home with their kids (if schools are closed in your country) and on their phones. Verticals include streaming services, online learning and software, essential household products, and healthcare products (that aren’t against ad policies).

One important reason why now is the time to continue your advertising (assuming your business is not at risk) is because of a key change we’ve noticed across ad accounts. That is, CPM (the cost to reach 1,000 people with your Facebook ads) is decreasing so it’s becoming cheaper to advertise and reach your target audiences.

From a messaging perspective, be empathetic, supportive, and understanding of the times we’re living in right now. Reassure both your current customers and your potential customers. How you act as a business to both your customers and employees during times of extreme hardship shows the world your true colors. Think of them as people, not just numbers.

Charlie Lawrance is the founder of Gecko Squared, a Facebook ads strategist, and speaker who works primarily with SMBs.

#15: Do Business but From a Place of Service: Andrea Vahl

The Question: Should I be running ads on social media? What kind of messaging should I use?

You should definitely keep running your ads on social media if your ads are still performing at the level they need to be. But your message should most likely change.

Acknowledge the crisis in some way, maybe by talking about the challenging time or letting people know you understand the difficult situation. Facebook does seem to be deleting some posts and ads that specifically mention COVID-19 or coronavirus but it remains to be seen if that was a glitch or something more permanent.

In any crisis, you must be mindful of people who are more affected than others. Come from a place of service. But you don’t have to halt all aspects of your marketing because that’s dangerous to the future of your business. Watch your reports to see if there’s a decrease in your performance. I’ve actually seen some businesses that have had better results in the short-term because more people are online. But again, it’s better to think about how you can serve your community.

This crisis is changing rapidly so you must be sensitive to the current situation. We’ll all get through it together!

Andrea Vahl is a social media speaker, consultant, and co-author of Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies.

#16: Serve Your Customers: Marcus Sheridan

The Question: Should I continue to promote my business on social media? How?

Absolutely. But you must have soul. And you must have tact. The fact is, your buyers are still buying and researching, and it’s your job to answer their questions, fears, issues, worries, and concerns regarding your product or service.

Not only that, but you must keep the lights on. Somehow, you’ve got to make payroll. And the only way you’re going to do that is to find a way to generate sales and revenue.

If someone tells you that you shouldn’t be marketing your business right now, there’s a good chance they’ve never written a paycheck in their life.

Marcus Sheridan is the co-owner of the digital sales and marketing agency, IMPACT, owner of River Pools and Spas, and author of They Ask, You Answer.

#17: Be Mindful of Your Imagery: Azriel Ratz

Should I continue to promote my business on social media? How?

Should I be running ads on social media? What kind of messaging should I use?

No one is expecting you to stop promoting during rocky times, but it is important to realize that things have changed, and you may need to change the way you speak to people. As a business, you need to understand that people are in a very different plan than they were a month ago. People all around the world are likely stuck at home with their kids, so talking about taking a trip, going to an event, meeting up with others, etc. leaves you out of touch with current events.

If you have the cash now to run ads then you should be running ads. On average costs have dropped since many businesses were forced to stop running ads. If you are an eCommerce business, first confirm that your message is on point for the times then watch your ROAS (return on ad spend) like a hawk. Since many people are watching their expenses your average cart value and conversion rate may drop, so make sure to watch those numbers. If you are a business that was forced to close make sure to keep yourself top of mind for when things return back to normal. Many of these businesses have started having Facebook live shows like zoos and parks, which can then be turned into ads after the live is over.

How can I use social media to move my transactions online?

Many businesses have been doing this already, it’s 2020, people are used to swiping their credit cards online. I saw one local networking company move to an online format in the last month. Now, instead of charging people for in-person events, they created a paid online networking event. If we want our businesses to survive we need to learn to adapt.

Should my social media strategy change? How?

The answer is yes, the world is a very different place than it was just a few weeks ago. We need to be more conscious of these changes. For example, instead of posting pictures of people walking on the beach you may need to change the content to people playing in their backyard; instead of people at work, share images of people working from home.

Azriel Ratz is a Facebook ads expert specializing in advertising high ticket products. He has extensive experience in ad management for diverse markets with clients such as Postmodern Jukebox, Powtoon, Thinkific, Freightos, Hometalk, The Daily Dot, Tenzo Tea, and United with Israel.

#18: Assess Pricing, Offerings, and Strategy: Ian Cleary

The Question: Should I continue to promote my business on social media? How?

The Question: Should I be running ads on social media? What kind of messaging should I use?

Yes, it’s more important than ever before to let your current and potential customers know that you’re still open for business. Continue sharing valuable content and engaging with your audience. Just make sure you don’t share anything that would look like you’re trying to profit from the coronavirus pandemic.

Yes, as I said in the previous answer, it’s important to get right out in front of audiences. Continue to retarget visitors to your website with ads on social media. Also, if you’ve changed your product/service offering as a result of the current environment, you need to get that message out there.

The Question: How can I use social media to move my transactions online?

Think about what’s going on in your potential customer’s world at the moment and what they need to survive. Can you tailor your product/service offering and messaging based on this? Can you come up with new products or services? Or maybe you could adjust your pricing structure to reflect the current environment. Your competitors may be hitting the pause button but there are still plenty of opportunities out there.

The Question: Should my social media strategy change? How?

You should definitely review your social media strategy because the environment and mood have changed. You’re not going to be sharing all singing-and-dancing posts about a booming economy anymore. Also, what you’re offering in terms of products/services may have changed so your messaging may change. As everything is changing quickly at the moment, it’s important to adjust the implementation of your strategy as required.

Ian Cleary is the founder of RazorSocial, a company focused on delivering successful digital marketing projects and lead generation for B2B companies, and a global keynote speaker.

#19: Adapt Your Marketing to the Current Climate: Andy Crestodina

The Question: Should I continue to promote my business on social media? How?

Is there something we can contribute to this conversation?

Is there some way we can use our channels and our content to help?

Can we amplify a voice that’s making a difference?

Pause social marketing, catch your breath, and then get back to work. But consider ways to adapt. Ask yourself:

These are common social media strategy questions. But you may not have asked them lately. You need to do that now.

When you resume, you may see a little blowback from a few voices that don’t want to see marketing. They’ll say it’s too soon. They’ll call you tone-deaf.

But remember that eventually, the show (and life) must go on. Our brands and our clients’ brands need us. At some point, we need to get back to work as a population within an economy. When is that point? That’s up to you, the social strategist. But don’t wait too long. Don’t let your brand be another victim of coronavirus.

Andy Crestodina, a co-founder of Orbit Media—an award-winning, 38-person web design company in Chicago—and author of Content Chemistry: The Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing, has provided web strategy and marketing advice to more than 1,000 businesses.

#20: Position Your Marketing Around Hope and Inspiration: Bella Vasta

The Question: Should I continue to promote my business on social media? How?

Absolutely. Businesses that are still functioning need be out there, controlling the narrative. First and foremost, turn any automatic post schedulers off. Then you can get to work.

Use social media to say tell people you’re still open.

Remind people that doing business with you doesn’t have to involve a trip to your shop; help your customers help you by showing them how and where to buy gift cards from you.

Tell the stories of the people you employ—those who are counting on you for an income.

The Question: Should I be running ads on social media? What kind of messaging should I use?

Turn your regularly scheduled campaigns off and use ads to highlight stories of other businesses that are open and surviving, and to offer help. To illustrate, you can open a pop-up group on Facebook in which to interview subject matter experts who can offer professional guidance to the business owners you serve; consider topics such as financial advice, HR advice, legal advice, etc.

Encourage business owners to fight for their businesses and give them the tools they need right now.

The Question: Should my social media strategy change? How?

Marketers know that what worked last week won’t necessarily work for you this week; this is especially true now and your social media posts should reflect that. People are losing livelihoods and businesses. To help people stay positive, build your social media strategy around hope and inspiration.

Bella Vasta, an authority on Facebook Groups, has helped grow all types of businesses from multimillion-dollar corporations to mom-and-pops. She’s the author of the book, The Four Types of Dogs Every Business Needs and host of the long-standing podcast, Bella In Your Business.

#21: Ask How You Can Help: Mark Schaefer

The Question: Should I continue to promote my business on social media? How?

I suggest that we need to view our businesses and customers through the lens of grief. Every single person I know is experiencing loss right now. That loss may be related to economic or employment factors, the freedom to travel, a social life with weddings or celebrations… the list could go on.

People are grieving and that means the tone of the country (and much of the world) is somber and fearful. If your business isn’t absolutely relevant right now, your customers may not be interested in you no matter what you do; working harder may not make a difference.

So, how do you continue to do business?

Rather than a hard sell, consider how you might talk to a grieving friend. Ask, “What can I do for you?”, “What do you need from me and my company right now?”, “How can our business ease your pain in this time of loss?”

Mark Schaefer is a globally recognized keynote speaker, educator, and business consultant. He’s the author of six best-selling books and his blog {grow} is hailed as one of the top marketing blogs in the world.

#22: Watch Your RAOS: Andrew Hubbard

The Question: Should I be running ads on social media? What kind of messaging should I use?

My advice to businesses is to continue running ads on social media as long as the numbers still make sense for them. We’re seeing costs decreasing on a lot of advertising accounts, most likely due to the combination of advertisers pausing campaigns during this time of uncertainty and also because more people are stuck at home spending more time on social media. At the same time, in a lot of cases we’re seeing purchase conversion rates declining as well. That means that even though ads are cheaper, it may be offset by fewer people making purchases. The key, as always, is to watch your return on ad spend (ROAS) and make decisions accordingly. Businesses may see a dip in ROAS, but as long as your campaigns are still profitable then you should continue to run ads on social media as we weather the storm. Remember, just because a lead isn’t ready to buy now doesn’t mean they won’t buy from you after this is all over. If you can keep advertising and acquiring leads now without losing money, you’ll be in a much stronger position when things pick up again.

This is a time to be sensitive when it comes to messaging. The last thing you want to do as a business owner is to appear tone-deaf during what is a very difficult time for a lot of people. Where it makes sense to acknowledge the current situation, then do so in your messaging. For example, it’s relevant for a local cafe pivoting to offer coffee delivery to address the fact that more people are working from. What you don’t want to do is force it into your messaging when it’s not really relevant, or use the situation to create a sense of urgency or fear. In short – keep your messaging consistent unless it makes sense to acknowledge the current situation and you’re able to do so in a tactful way.

Andrew Hubbard is the founder of Hubbard Digital, a social media advertising agency that specializes in helping online educators scale their businesses with Facebook and Instagram ads.

#23: Be Hyper-Aware of Where People Are on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Amanda Bond

The Question: Should my social media strategy change? How?

The answer is yes, but different for each of us. We need to reflect on what is going to best serve us as business owners, marketer and social media strategists – what will allow us to fill our own cups so that we can then serve others.

To visualize this, some people are responding by creating resources for these times and some people are called to curate these resources. Still others, like me, are responding by pulling back on outward social media posting in favor of supporting the internal community we already have. When the people in that community feel supported, they can become one of the first two people.

The Question: Should I be running ads on social media? What kind of messaging should I use?

I am still working with people who are running ads and there’s no morally right or wrong answer here. What’s important to acknowledge is that there are both opportunities and consequences in front of us right now.

For example, many businesses will stop advertising and that means ad inventory will go up and ad pricing will go down. On the flip side, ads may be cheaper and you’re getting my eyeballs but are you certain people are looking for the solution you offer, right now when job security or food scarcity matters are more pressing?

If you do run ads, change any verbiage to be less frivolous. People aren’t looking for luxury goods right now; they’re looking for security, comfort, and safety. Be sure your copy addresses those needs sensitively.

Amanda Bond is the founder of The Ad Strategist, a business that helps entrepreneurs create Facebook ads that convert.

#24: Lean Into Social: Jessika Phillips

Should I continue to promote my business on social media? How?

There’s no denying that we’re all in a state of shock, awe, and slight panic with the recent crisis at hand. So many businesses are asking if they should continue to post on social media and if so, what?!

I get it. It’s hard to know the right way to respond when we’ve never experienced this situation before but I believe social media should be the vehicle you are always using especially during times such as these.

Social Media allows you to facilitate a two-way conversation with your clients, community, team members and prospects at any time from anywhere. Questioning the need to post is like asking if you should turn off your phone lines during a time of crisis. The answer is “no” because usually, that’s what people reach for first!

Here’s the difference between your office phone line and social though, social media doesn’t turn off and there’s no area code which means, today, more than ever, you’d want to utilize social media to communicate on behalf of your brand.

But now comes the question of the definition of “posting” and this is where it gets tricky because many companies look at social media as simply marketing; or, in some cases they look at it as social media = sale media.

Think of your social media posting as if you’re talking on your office line phone. What you share out (i.e.: posting) is the starting point of the conversation you’re having with the community, clients, team members and prospects of your brand.

You’re definitely going to want to have a dialogue with them vs. ignoring their call. You’re also going to want to use the best ways of keeping your communication, aka conversation, alive.

For instance:

Many people are wanting to know what’s open and what’s not, so you can use social media to communicate changes to your hours, ways of doing business and any updates to how they can reach you.

Make sure info is up-to-date and accurate on a social channel, website, Google My Business, and other local directories.

You’re going to want to use your social media posts to share helpful and timely resources for your community and team as a whole.

You can post engaging open-ended questions that will allow you to get to know your community on a deeper level.

This is really a time to use social media the way it was always intended to be used, a time to build genuine relationships.

Get creative and fun with your posts- for example, we were celebrating the 10-year anniversary of our agency, instead of making it all about us, we created a Virtual Spirit Week to get our audience engaged with a fun daily countdown challenge.

Post more live videos to share what’s going on now behind the scenes of your brand. This allows your community to have an understanding of what it’s like from your vantage point as well as an opportunity to communicate with you in real-time with their questions.

Share posts that talk about the steps you’re making internally to protect your clients, team members, and the community-at-large and be transparent, yet positive about how you’re dealing with everything.

Use your social posts to spread positive and uplifting messages:

Highlight the good going on in your business

Share fun ideas you’ve seen that will build community

Shine the light on others doing amazing work.

Share how others can join or facilitate a group around helping and serving during this time of need.Encourage your team as they’re going through this and highlight their efforts.

Be human. Understand that nothing is ideal right now and we must be flexible, understanding and compassionate.

What not to do:

Be tone-deaf to what’s going on and keep ads/posts the same

Not respond at all and worst of all- stop posting altogether

Share news on your site that isn’t a trusted source or may start a conversation you aren’t prepared or qualified to answer. Remember the advice shared on social under your brand page is professional liability.

Place Ads that target people who are suffering

Make jokes about what’s going on.

Remember this is meant to be physical distancing but you can still keep the social interactions going! While your physical location may be closed social media is always open and the best way to maintain, strengthen and expand your relationships with the community you care about. So keep those posts coming!

Jessika Phillips is the founder of NOW Marketing Group, a Forbes recognized Agency Partner and a certified inbound partner with Hubspot. She teaches comprehensive relationship marketing and appears in the weekly videocast, Magnet Marketers.

What do you think? How have you adapted your business during uncertain times? What advice can you offer to other businesses? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


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