The coronavirus outbreak has changed the world as we know it. By March 20, 2020, the World Health Organization reported 209,839 confirmed cases and 8,778 deaths due to the pandemic.
Healthcare providers and government agencies are working around the clock to find ways to treat and stop the spread of the virus. Economies have been severely affected, and businesses are looking at an uncertain future.
Among the industries most affected by the pandemic are:
- Airline travel: The International Air Transport Association has seen global revenue losses between USD 63 billion and USD 113 billion for the passenger business.
- Hospitality: One study shows that hotel occupancy is down by 96% in Italy, 68% in China, 67% in the United Kingdom, 59% in the United States, and 48% in Singapore.
- Manufacturing: 78.3% of the respondents in one survey say that the outbreak is likely to have a financial impact on their business. Further, 53.1% anticipate a change in operations in the coming months, and 35.5% say they are already facing supply chain disruptions.
For small businesses, the situation seems grim. There are many reasons for this.
- There can be cash flow problems, with investors preferring to stay away. In China, for example, venture capital and private equity firms raised about $600 million so far this year, versus $84 billion for all of last year.
- With lockdowns and social distancing in effect, the demand for many goods and services is starting to dwindle.
- There are concerns regarding workforce safety as well as transportation.
- This can also lead to what is known as “startup depression,” in which new companies don’t enter the job market because of the pandemic.
What are the Next Steps for Startups?
In this scenario, there are several steps that startups can take. As the old saying goes: within a crisis can be the seeds of an opportunity.
Some aspects that can be looked into are:
- Strengthen ties with other startups and be open to opportunities and strategies.
- Explore new digital skills and automated tools to connect with suppliers and consumers.
- Maintain relationships with investors, think of alternative sources of funding, and keep costs as low as possible.
- Use the time available to look at alternative business models and come up with innovative ideas.
How Social Media Marketing Can Help Startups
Recently, market research firm Nielsen reported that social media volume saw a 50X surge between January and March in India in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
With limited options available during a lockdown, Indians and others all over the world are reading, contributing, and influencing social media more than before.
Clearly, this is a good time for startups to be more active on social media. Look at the reach of the platforms, for a start.
- Facebook reached almost 2 billion monthly active users.
- Instagram reached 1 billion
- Snapchat, 360 million
- Twitter, 320 million
- LinkedIn, 600+ million
- Pinterest, 200 million
Social media usage data.
For a startup, social media marketing has many advantages. It can swiftly :
- Improve brand recognition and connect you with potential users.
- Help build powerful brands as well as thought leadership
- Help you respond to consumer issues and create leads and sales.
Most used platforms.
During this pandemic, many startups are also generating trust and appreciation by:
- Providing expert advice, comfort, and ways of coping.
- Creating new services for consumers and healthcare workers.
- Contributing to charitable organizations and urging consumers to do the same.
Another aspect of social media marketing is that traditional marketing can be expensive. On the other hand, social media marketing is low-cost and gives you a direct connection to current and prospective customers.
Which Social Media Platform is Best for Startups?
There are so many choices that this can be a tricky question to answer. In general, it depends on the startup in question and the objectives of the marketing campaign.
Here are two questions to start with.
- Who is your consumer? The younger generation is keener on short video sites such as TikTok, while the somewhat older consumers are on Facebook, for example. Data on age groups and profiles is necessary in order to decide.
- What kind of content and information do you need to create and share? If your brand or service lends itself to arresting photographs and images, then Instagram is best. If you need to communicate business data, you can look at LinkedIn. Each platform has its own flavor and characteristics.
Other facts and figures can also come in handy. For example:
- 41% of U.S. small businesses use Facebook.
- YouTube reaches more adults aged 18 to 34 than any single cable TV network
- LinkedIn is great for B2B communication, as 4 out of 5 people on it “drive business decisions.”
In this way, with the ideal customer profile, as well as the relevant usage data, you will get a clear picture of where to focus your social marketing efforts.
Measuring Social Media Marketing ROI
According to one study, the top concern for 55% of social marketers is ROI. This is natural. Measuring metrics such as engagement rates or customer satisfaction can feel like a guessing game.
One way to look at it is that not every parameter, such as brand awareness, can be precisely monetized. Besides, especially in situations such as the current pandemic, building long-term loyalty is what is important.
Measuring ROI is the top challenge.
However, some aspects can be measured. These are:
- The numbers of followers and shares
- The number of people signing up on email lists
- Contact form inquiries
- The number of consumers who seek trials
- The number of purchases linked to a post
- Downloads of white papers or e-books
It’s always best to define campaign goals at the start and then check what measurements can contribute towards these. There are online, analytical, and data mining tools to help with this.
How Some Brands are Using Social Media During the Pandemic
Several startups and smaller businesses have used this uncertain time to come up with innovative solutions and demonstrate consumer commitment. They use social media to amplify this.
Spoon Guru, a smart food search and discovery app, has started to highlight food items that can help boost the immune system. It uses proprietary algorithms to do this.
Spoon Guru’s new Immunity Support Tag enables retailers to respond to customer demand for immunity strengthening foodstuffs. Awareness of this is spread through social media platforms.
Then, there’s Revolut, a British financial technology company, which is contributing to a food bank network for emergency food needs. Customers can also donate to the charity via their app.
It’s not just immunity and food. Workable, a hiring platform, has made its video-interviewing add-on free for three months to help companies hire remotely. And Sweetguest, an Italian home-sharing app, is letting out rooms free to people who are in self-isolation.
Many startups can use this period to win over consumers on social media, with a little ingenuity, a bit of initiative, and some planning. It’s engaging, it’s affordable, and it will pay off once the pandemic is over.