April 2, 2020

Tips for Using Social Media Community Management to Connect with Customers During Volatile Times

a graphic showing multiple facets of community management

If you’re a business that relies on word of mouth, foot traffic, and location to build awareness and drive sales, you’re not alone. I learned about many of my favorite small businesses based on their positive reputation or their proximity from my home.

Many of these places have a minimal footprint when it comes to their digital presence, which in a lot of ways, is part of their charm. However, as our “new normal” has become solely digital, it is important to tap into these platforms to connect with customers when you can’t do so in person. These four tips for using social media community management can help any small business connect with customers and even attract a new audience.

1. Be Communicative

Since more bars, restaurants, and public venues have inevitably closed, customer service is of the utmost importance. Facebook Messenger is a high-impact, low barrier tool for small businesses to set up and for customers to directly ask questions. Whether it’s related to hours, changes in operations, or more personal needs, being available to answer questions is critical during this time.

Be sure on your Facebook page, whether it’s a pinned status update or in your “About” section, that you communicate with customers that someone will be available to answer questions. If your business is already receiving many phone calls, encourage customers to go to Facebook to ask their questions. Be sure to turn on instant replies when you’re away, and let customers know that someone will be right back to answer questions.

In addition, if you notice you’re getting lots of the same duplicate questions, such as hours or if delivery is available, create an FAQ that you can send as an auto-reply, or pin to the top of your Facebook profile. This can help mitigate the number of inquiries so you can focus on larger, more personal questions.

Need help setting up Messenger? Hootsuite has an easy-to-follow blog post about how businesses can set up Facebook Messenger, and its value for future communications with customers.


2. Stay True to Your Brand’s Identity

It can be hard to be yourself during these difficult and changing circumstances, but people are also looking for a distraction from the day-to-day. Hootsuite shared that to leave a lasting impression on customers in a time of crisis, you need to either do good, or make people feel good – we couldn’t agree more. Below are a few ideas to inject positivity into community management without coming off as tone deaf.

Create an Experience

Use Facebook Live, Instagram Live, and other streaming tools to make in-person experiences virtual. This may be obvious for gyms and studios looking to stream their workouts, but other industries can use these techniques, too!

  • If you’re known for your cocktails, have one of your bartenders give a class on how to make a mean drink at home. People can even leave tips via Paypal or Venmo if they want!
  • Host a virtual trivia or “open mic” night on social media for a small fee that goes directly to your operations and staff.
  • Bring the ambiance of the Hawaii vacation your customers had to cancel by sharing tips to make shelter-in-place more enjoyable.
  • Think of activities, especially for families and kids, that you can do at home instead of going out.

Be Human

Having the business owner talk about any changes they’re making during these times. Video is a great way to add a human and empathetic touch, especially since we can’t connect on a face-to-face level.


Don’t take anything for granted! If you’re open, be sure you’re broadcasting those hours. And if you’re closed, be sure your customers are aware as well. Some people may not be aware about what constitutes an essential business, what delivery options are available for your restaurant, or that your service business is actually continuing as usual. Be sure that’s shared!

People want peace of mind during these difficult times, and it’s okay to provide extra information that will leave customers with a positive impression of your business.

3. Read the Room Before Posting

This should go without saying, but don’t turn a global emergency into a platform to promote your business. Chances are, someone in your audience is negatively impacted by this novel Coronavirus (COVID19) and the last thing you want to do is turn anyone off.

Reassess Your Typical Marketing Graphics

  • Be mindful of any imagery you may be used to promoting. People in groups, vacations, or eating out will come off as tone deaf. Try using illustrations or graphic imagery. Tools like Canva are helpful for whipping up quick custom images.


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Step away from the screen, relieve your square eyes, and fill your ears with art, wisdom and stories instead. We asked our @hoxfriends around the world for their top podcast recommendations and they delivered. From crime to LOLs and general chit-chat, swipe to see them. Got your own favourite? Comment below to keep the list growing!⁣ 🎙⁣ ⁣⁣ @womeninmusicpodcast – @millie_cotton⁣⁣ @tablemannerspodcast – @jessieware⁣⁣ UnStyled – @christenebarberich ⁣⁣ The Fringe of It – @charlottejacklin + @livpurvis⁣⁣ @earhustlesq – Nigel Poor + Earlonne Woods⁣⁣ The Travel Diaries – @hollyrubenstein⁣⁣ Have you Heard George’s Podcast? – @georgethepoet

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Don’t Plan Too Far Ahead

  • As things are shifting quickly, so will your content calendar. Do not schedule anything too far in advance given the changing climate and be sure to look over everything before it goes out to ensure it matches the state of today.

Sell with Caution

  • As many people are feeling financial pressure, discounts or deals are great tactics to use during this time to encourage purchases down the road. However, be mindful that your message doesn’t capitalize on the current state of affairs, nobody wants to hear the words “Covid-19 sale.” Instead, focus on the human element and how each sale benefits employees, or is being used to contribute to a local food bank or charity organization.
  • If your business does have to close, be sure there is a place to purchase gift cards or a future booking. Make this obvious on all social pages and communications so it is a no-brainer for your loyal customers.

4. Show You Care

Remember, social media is a community and it’s important to keep your followers connected and a part of it. Remind them how much they are appreciated for following along in this journey. Remember that any negative reviews, or social media comments, may be coming from a place of stress or concern. Continue to respond to comments as usual, but be mindful of everyone’s point of view by replying in an empathetic and hopeful way.


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We’re all navigating through this together, so do your best to use social media community management as a way to support your business and be there for your customers.

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