How to Share COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Updates with Customers, Employees

Kenneth Burke, Director of Marketing

Coronavirus is everywhere. It’s ruining lives and shutting down cities and businesses. But what can you and your business do about it? Communication is key—connecting with your customers, employees and other contacts to share updates and best practices is critical to handling the situation well. Here are a few tips to do it:

Who sees what?

Remember the averages:

  • 15-20% of emails are read
  • Social media posts from business profiles have almost no organic reach
  • 99% of texts are read

People are on high alert, so engagement may be higher than normal, but remember that not everyone is going to see everything you put out. You need to communicate the same message through several channels to be most effective. Here are my recommendations:

1. Decide what stance you’re going to take.

The first safe step people are taking is to cancel or postpone events for the foreseeable future (I’ve seen outright cancellations and delays of 1-4 months). The second safe step is to have employees work from home, as applicable. For many jobs, all you need is a laptop and a smartphone and you’re good (plus, we’ve got the Gig here in Chattanooga).

It’s tough to figure out the right step. There are so many variables, and the real trick is you don’t know what’s going to happen. But whatever you choose—even if it’s just to share sanitation tips—you need to decide quickly. People who stay on the fence tend to fall.

2. Email everyone.

You probably already have an email list, or can quickly download your list of contacts and upload them into a service like Mailchimp, Constant Contact or Robly. (Chamber members get a Constant Contact discount.)

Tell your audience your stance. It’s okay to send multiple updates a day if things are in flux. Your community would probably appreciate it. Everyone’s hungry for information.

3. Post your stance on social media.

Detail your decision in a company social media post. If you want it to stand out, use a free tool like Canva to make a nice graphic, or shoot a quick video on your phone.

Few people are going to see anything you post on social media (unless you have strong local engagement), so you’ll need to pay to sponsor the post to make sure it gets in front of your people.

If you have a list of contacts or employee emails, you can upload a “custom audience” on major social media platforms, and (barring your budget) pay to show your post just to those people. If you need help, contact your digital marketing agency or your closest Millennial. They’ll whip it up for you in no time.

4. Text your contacts updates.

Most people are more likely to want (and to see) text messages over other channels. You can use Text Request to get the word out to your hundreds or thousands of customers, employees and other contacts.

This isn’t legal advice, but if someone has given you their cell phone number, you have permission to text them. You can also have people opt into text updates on your website, social media or through email. Just add a form asking for a name and number. Then upload those contacts into Text Request.

Or you can post “Text COVID to [your phone number]” to encourage opt-ins. When sharing updates, it’s helpful to include links to websites with more details.

All our contact info is right here if you have questions. We’re happy to help.

5. Post a notice on your website.

People are looking to you for answers, and there are two easy ways to give them on your website.

First, publish a page on your website just for coronavirus updates. A blog post you update regularly is fine, just make sure it’s easy to find from your homepage.

You can also use tools like GetSiteControl or ConvertFlow to quickly add a pop-up notice to your website. Update this notice as needed.

6. Make it easy to contact you!

Everything is chaos right now, so give people an organized path to reach you for updates and answers. In any communication you share, add your email address and phone number so customers and employees have one place to go to email, text or call for help.

Final Word

We’re in a crazy time, but you can make customers’ and employees’ lives easier by being proactive and effective in your communications.

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