How To Engage Your Community During The Coronavirus Outbreak

Struggling to keep your audience engaged? Learn how to use downtime to your advantage and emerge stronger 🏋️‍♂️

The ongoing global pandemic has created widespread insecurity and instigated an economic downturn that is impacted businesses everywhere.

Some businesses are fortunate enough to continue functioning with a high degree of normalcy while others have been forced to make substantial adjustments to their business operations. Whatever position you find yourself in you all have the same challenge ahead of you, continuing to grow and engage your community.

To put you on the right track we're going to take a look at what you should be focusing on right now and share our own expert tips on driving growth and engagement during these challenging times.

No matter what situation you find yourself in, the most impactful thing you can be doing right now is growing your lists and social following.

Actively seeking out new leads and growing your lists won't just help you drive immediate sales, it will also put your brand in front of a larger audience and give you the opportunity to build engagement and set yourself up for massive success down the road.

This can be hugely impactful for everyone, but particularly businesses who are currently unable to operate at full capacity as connecting with excited new leads and growing your lists will allow you to re-launch with a bang when things go back to normal and put yourself in a better position than you've ever been in.

Let's take a look at a few awesome ways you can grow your lists and generate tons of new leads:

If you want to grow your lists and drive massive online engagement then there isn't much you can do that will be more impactful than running promotional contests.

With Gleam's powerful Competitions app you can run engaging contests that will delight your audience and drive growth.

You can use contests to grow your lists by requiring entrants to sign up to your email list, follow you on Twitter and more.

You can even leverage your existing users to drive exponential growth by offering up bonus entries to people who refer their friends, and drive a ton of extra actions that will help you cultivate a stronger online audience, promote your brand and set yourself up for success.

Take a look at this demo we put together to see how you can grow your lists with Gleam:

  Use This Template On Gleam

Another great way to acquire relevant leads is with signup forms inside your website. This allows you to target users who have already shown a clear interest in your brand and convert them into leads.

When you use Gleam's Capture app to create signup forms you'll even be able to offer up discount codes to give visitors some extra incentive to join your list.

Using Gleam Capture to Convert Vsitors Into Leads

This can be a particularly powerful strategy if your business is unable to operate at its usual level, as instead of people checking out your website and vanishing you will be able to capture their details so that when you do re-launch you will be able to reignite their interest and get them to take action.

Website popups and notifications aren't just an effective way to generate leads, they can also help you communicate any operational changes you have made due to coronavirus in a simple and prominent way which will help you instantly make visitors aware of what's going on.

Once you've started generating leads it's important that you don't let them slip through the cracks.

Make sure you're sending out regular emails and frequently posting on social media to maintain engagement.

This isn't only important for engaging your new leads, but also for nurturing your existing relationships. Remember, customer retention is a lot easier (and cheaper) than acquisition. Existing customers who know and trust you are the most likely to make a purchase during times of economic insecurity, so don't neglect them.

Helm Boots Sending Email to Promote Sale

Try sending out emails to your customer list that:

  • Let your customers know how you're adjusting and inform them of any changes to your business model.
  • Thank them for their support and for being a part of your community.
  • Offer them some sort of exclusive reward or discount to make them feel valued, boost loyalty and drive engagement.
  • Provide them with real value. Everyone is going through a tough time right now so do what you can to brighten their day.
  • Encourage them to take action. This could be making a purchase, leaving you a review, sharing referral codes with friends, or entering a fun campaign (we'll give you a few awesome ideas for these soon).
Jetts Fitness At-Home Workout Email

Depending on what industry you operate in and how COVID-19 has impacted your business operations it is highly likely that you will need to adapt in minor or major ways.

No matter what position you find yourself in it's vital that you are doing what you can to ensure your business is prepared to tackle the challenges you are facing.

Many industries such as travel, hospitality, retail and anything else that relies on a physical location have been severely impacted by COVID-19 and social distancing measures.

If your business is unable to function in a normal capacity then it's imperative that you're changing things up and making the necessary adjustments to stay operational.

All businesses should be implementing social distancing and safety measures such as imposing distance requirements and providing hand sanitizer to customers and staff.

Restaurants should be pivoting to takeaway and delivery, or even taking things a step further and offering up ready-to-cook meal kits, signature ingredients or recipe PDFs.

Email Promoting Restaurant Takeaway During Lockdown

Barbershops, hairdressers and beauty salons can start selling products for at-home use, gyms and fitness centres can offer online sessions, and movie theaters can sell takeaway popcorn and other snacks for movie nights at home.

These changes can be vital to your business during this time. It's okay if it means radically changing the way you do things, now is the time to get creative.

If you've had to drastically cut down your operations or temporarily cease them you can reach out to your loyal customers with vouchers or gift cards that they can purchase now and redeem once you're back up and running. This is a great way leverage your loyal customers and generate some cash flow in difficult times.

If you operate in e-commerce, software, or other online industries you may not have to drastically alter the way you conduct business, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't be looking to make some necessary adjustments to ensure you stay at the top of your game.

Think about your customers and focus on what they need right now. Can you help keep people entertained during lockdown? Can you help them setup their own home office?

If you sell clothing your customers might be less interested in nice going out clothes and more interested in comfy items to wear at home. If you're a beauty brand you should consider focusing on shampoo, soaps and at-home spa bundles over makeup.

E-Commerce Landing Page For Stay Home Products

You can create dedicated landing pages for stay at home product collections or even partner up with other brands to put together amazing home bundles.

Offering up discounts on products or collections that your customers are seeking out right now can also be a great way to capture attention, drive sales and build goodwill.

No one knows your customers better than you do. Think about they need right, and find a way to give it to them.

If you need some help you can take a look at Google Trends to see what people are searching for.

Your day-to-day business operations of your business you will also need to mindful of the tone and language you are using in your communications.

You don't want to lose what makes you you, but it's important to understand the situation at hand, what customers are going through and where you fit into their lives right now.

It's important that you acknowledge the current situation and the stress it is causing people, but don't go so far as to heighten people's concerns and put a damper on their mood. A calm, reasonable and friendly tone is always a safe bet.

Whatever adjustments you do ultimately make, you need to make sure that everyone knows about them. This means emails, social media posts and prominent messaging inside your website.

How you go about doing this largely depends on the nature of your business and the capacity at which you are operating, but here are a few ideas you might find helpful:

  • Send out an email that says you're still open for business, provides information about any changes you've made and gives them a clear call-to-action.
  • Create a landing page for stay at home products and share it on social media.
  • Add a stylish Capture bar to your website reassuring visitors that you're still open for business.
Use Capture Bars to Tell Customers You're Still Open For Business
  • Trigger a prominent popup on your website that immediately clues visitors into what's going on and encourages them to take action.
Restaurant emailing customers during lockdown to promote takaaway

If you've been forced to seriously pump the brakes on business operations then your focus should shift to keeping your audience engaged and generating new leads to help you re-launch with a bang.

People around the world are in lockdown craving content right now. When they re-emerge you don't want them to have forgotten about you.

Creating engaging online content is a great way to keep people talking and thinking about your brand. Content creation can be as simple as engaging social media activity, or you can go further and start putting together blog posts, video content and more.

Let's take a look at some great ways you can keep driving content.

We mentioned using Google Trends to get ideas for new directions you can take your product in, and the same is true for your content.

See what people are interested in right now and give it to them. Just make sure it's still relevant to your brand. You don't have to solely rely on Google Trends. Keep your ear to the group and pay attention to the kind of content that is driving engagement in your niche.

IKEA is excelling in this regard by regularly sharing videos giving people tips on making their home as comfortable and useful as possible during isolation.

Here are a few broad topics that people are interested in right now:

  • Ideas for staying entertained.
  • New hobbies they can do at home.
  • Ways to connect with friends and other people online.
  • Tips for setting up home offices and working from home.

If you can help people out with any of these then you're already off to a great start.

They key to deciding which trends are relevant to you and what type of content will connect with your audience is understanding the role your brand plays in the current lives of your customers.

Posting relevant blog content during lockdown
  • Beauty and fashion brands can offer advice on nailing your Zoom meeting style or tips for grooming when you're stuck at home.
  • Clothing retailers can run Facebook Live fashion shows to show off your products.
  • Venues, artist and even music equipment sellers can put together playlists.
  • Movie theaters and streaming services can offer recommendations or setup online watch parties.
  • Book stores can create online book clubs.
  • Restaurants can share recipes and offer online cooking courses.
  • Financial or business services can give up-to-date advice on the best stock to buy.

Your content should ideally be relevant to your brand and give you a good opportunity to promote your offering, but not all of it has to be like this. There's nothing wrong with sharing memes your audience will enjoy or kickstarting engaging social discussions.

Try to produce content across diverse channels to cast a wide net and keep things fresh. Try creating blog posts, video content, Facebook Live sessions, Zoom calls, Twitter threads and anything else your audience might latch onto.

If you're having success with a particular approach then double down and focus on that.

One of the best ways you can engage your community, keep your brand active, and get people excited about your product during downtime is running fun campaigns and contests that task users with creating and sharing their own awesome branded content.

You can encourage users to share fond memories of your brand, photos of your products and services in action or anything else that's relevant to your brand and community.

It's crucial that you get users to tag their posts with a designated #hashtag or better yet, @mention your profile in the post.

This will give you clear ownership over the campaign and help you get discovered by a new audience, as well as make it much easier for you to find and collect submissions.

You can simply ask users to get involved in your campaign for the fun of it (and to get featured on your social channels), or you can give them some extra incentive by offering up prizes for the best submissions.

The easiest way to track and collect content submissions is with Gleam. You can easily collect manual submissions from Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with optional hashtag filters, and if you're on our Business plan you can even automatically import submissions from hashtags, mentions and more without entrants ever having to leave the social media platform.

  Use This Template On Gleam

The key to running photo contests or other types of content contests is to keep things fun, engaging, and relevant to your brand. If you're a fashion or style brand you can run a quarantine fashion show, if your business is related to food you can host cook-offs, or you can let people reminisce about simpler times by sharing throwback photos featuring your products.

These campaigns can instigate fun conversations around your brand and help expose your brand to new audiences. Just make sure you're actively promoting them across social media, via email, and of course, on the front page of your website using Capture.

Using Gleam Capture Bars to promote your contest

We know times are tough right now, but hopefully with some grit, creativity and then help of these tips you'll be able to get through it and bounce back stronger than ever.


Ahron Burstin

Ahron is a Growth Marketer at Gleam. Shoot him a Tweet if you got something out of this post ☺