How brands should behave on social media during COVID-19

The Coronavirus pandemic is perhaps the largest challenge most brands have ever faced. 

As the world changes rapidly before our eyes it’s vital that we respond appropriately in this trying time. Companies are finding themselves being challenged by consumers like never before – be it about the treatment of workers or how they’re contributing to the cause, how your brand acts on social is more important now than ever before.

Your inclination might be to go quiet across social media. We understand that urge. How do you compete with a global pandemic? Is it even ethical to do so? A number of high profile brands directly affected by the pandemic have made that decision –  there hasn’t been any Twitter activity from easyJet since 17th February as they contend with refunding and rearranging their customer’s flights and hand sanitizer producer Purell haven’t tweeted anything aside from official statements since February. Hygiene companies such as Purell could be accused of profiteering so their silence is probably a wise choice. However, unless the nature of your services or product puts your brand at risk of being insensitive, we strongly suggest you do not go dark. 

Done well, this moment represents an important opportunity for your brand. Perhaps surprisingly, SOPRO has reported that as much as two-thirds (65%) of all industries will experience stable or increased demand – with more than a third (39%) likely to see increased demand during the pandemic. Therefore, it’s vital that you keep active on social media to keep your business afloat, however, this must be done in a sensitive and appropriate manner.  

So how do you navigate this confusing time? Whether your business has temporarily ceased trading, is still in full operation or if you are contending with fewer customers (or too many panicked customers) we’ve assembled these guidelines to help you find a new focus to your digital content strategy.

First things first, 2 very important rules:

Do not try to profit from the crisis, or do anything that could be interpreted as profiteering:

A global pandemic is not a marketing opportunity. It would be not only insensitive but downright dangerous for a brand to try to profit from this tragedy. Corona (who, granted, are in a very unusual situation sharing the name of the virus) have come under fire for running a campaign for their new Corona Hard Seltzer with the tagline ‘Coming Ashore Soon’. It should go without saying, but Coronavirus is not something you want to associate your brand with. 

Do not run campaigns that could be considered ill-timed amid a global pandemic:

KFC recently paused their ‘Finger Lickin’ ads, amidst criticism that encouraging customers to lick their fingers during the global spread of coronavirus was a rather bad idea. Geico also halted their campaign ‘Perfect High Five’ after customers made noise on Twitter about how inappropriate it was. A Coors ad titled ‘Official Beer of ‘Working’ Remotely was also put on hold over concerns that the message would come across as tone-deaf as most of us transition to working from home. The lesson –  a campaign that was seemingly inoffensive a month ago could be seen in a very different light today. 

A New Social Strategy

Due to panic, curiosity or the fact that a majority of people are now stuck at home, time spent on social media is significantly up. 85% of Chinese consumers reported an increase of at-home screen usage during the outbreak. Bearing in mind that your content will likely be sandwiched between rolling news coverage on Covid-19, you should consider the following when creating content amidst the pandemic. 


It’s important to steer your focus away from hard-selling. Remember, the increased time we are all spending online is prompting a lot of people on social media to be even more vocal than usual, particularly on platforms such as Twitter. If your company comes in trying to make a hard sell for a product that feels ill-timed, your followers will let you know about it. 

In these economically uncertain times consumers are looking for distraction, so consider what you could offer for free to provide that for your customers. Offering tips to survive lockdown is a good idea, as is providing ideas to keep the kids entertained. 


Now is the time to build a sense of trust in your brand. ‘Trust content’ allows you to spend more meaningful time connecting with your audience, something they will appreciate when things return to business as usual.  Consider creating long-form content such as articles, video series, podcasts or training content. Adjusting the volume of social media content, you post is perfectly reasonable right now. Give additional attention to creating high quality, meaningful trust content instead.

Figure out how your company can create good will and stand by your customers during this time.  Be it offering more customer service across social or extending return windows, it’s a chance to deepen that all-important brand awareness and trust.


People are seeking social communities online like never before. Virtual communities are popping up across social media – from bands performing live streamed concerts to fitness trainers providing live streamed classes – people are coming together for a whole new type of experiential moment. If your brand can offer this type of experience, great! If not, think of other ways you can rally your audience together, such as sharing content that connects us all to help build that feeling of coming together over a common cause.

Consider changing the focus of your campaigns from hard-selling to raising brand awareness. Community- building should be the focus of your social campaigns, maintaining your recognition level, so your customers can respond when they are ready to spend. For instance, set new conversion goals on your Facebook campaigns so they are raising brand awareness rather than trying to make sales. 

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

With the indefinite timeline of the Covid-19 pandemic, it can be challenging to look to the future, but brands can serve a vital role in doing this. This does not mean offering discount codes for 6 weeks down the line, but just providing simple positive messaging that reminds us all this will come to an end. Switzerland’s tourist board is a particularly good example of this, giving their social media followers a slice of Switzerland from afar, using hashtags like #neverstopdreaming and #staystrong to bolster morale.

Companies must remember that there will be a point someday where everything will return to business as usual. If your business has gone quiet on social media for months on end the effects could be catastrophic; customers would have good reason to think you had gone out of business during the pandemic. Instead, use this time to distract, connect with and support your customers. If you can successfully adapt and offer your customers value in this time of uncertainty, you will win their trust and when normal life resumes and they do spend again, it will be with you. 

Small business marketing ideas!

As a small business that is very interested in small business marketing, we spend a lot of time each week reading tips and advice from across the World Wide Web. So, we thought we’d launch a regular round-up of some of the cool ideas that we come across just in case you have missed them.

So to kick off, here’s a few for starters.

Use Google Data Studio to Analyse Your Facebook Ads

If you are spending money on Facebook Ads to increase reach, conversions etc you are going to want to fully understand your Facebook ad performance. One really good way of doing that is through Google Data Studio.

This article by Social Media Examiner covers how to better track and analyse your Facebook advertising campaigns performance with this free tool.

Get Creative!

Want to be the same as your competitors? Of course not. That would be silly.

From Speed dating with potential customers to Alignment with trade associations, this article by All Business has some brilliant approaches by 10 entrepreneurs that are not scared to look outside the box when it comes to marketing their business and products.

Video marketing is leading the way for ROI

Everyone’s talking about video marketing, and for good reason: there’s power in video, especially for small businesses. Video grabs users’ attention and engages them to a greater extent than text (apart from this blog of course).

We can’t think of a better form of media to engage your target audience than video. 83% of businesses say that video provides a good return on investment and ROI and research by Moovly found that you are 53 times more likely to show up on the first page of Google if you have a video embedded on your site. As Middle Table say; with numbers like that, what’s not to love!

Build your LinkedIn community in just 5 minutes a day

Are you maximising your presence on LinkedIn?

It’s possible to start building your personal network with just 5 minutes effort a day so no more “I don’t have the time” excuses!

South Thames Marketing show you how…

We hope you find some these useful and if you are looking for any tips/advice on how to better maximise social for your business drop us a line. As fellow small business owners, we are happy to chat and advise without obligation. We’re just pleased to help where we can.


How to grow your LinkedIn network in just 5 minutes a day

As a small business are you maximising your presence on LinkedIn? Our favourite B2B platform has now got more than 630 million members – 21% of the entire global workforce –  yet, despite its huge number of members, many people are still not using the platform to its full potential.

Despite a growing number of small firms and independent consultants stepping up their social strategies; in what is an increasingly competitive market, many still have work to do.

Research shows that nearly 60% of people now consult social media before making their buying decisions. 70% of them use LinkedIn, so it really is more important than ever to ensure you have a strong, thriving network.

Building your community is all about making connections. So, this month we’ll show you how dedicating just 5 minutes a day to strategically building your first-degree connections can exponentially improve your access to new clients and professional opportunities.

So, whether you’re aiming for that 501st connection, or just want to make your profile work harder for you, read on as we show you how to grow your network by investing just 5 minutes a day.

1. Personalise and connect

Follow up with everyone you meet (or wanted to meet but didn’t) at networking events. You can only do so much at a conference, so use the power of LinkedIn to make those connections count. Before you hit connect make sure you send a personal message, explaining who you are and where you met (remember, this is not the time to sell your services). Dig out those business cards and get searching.

2. Update your status daily

Simply having a LinkedIn profile is not enough to keep those connections coming in. Like any social media platform, you need to engage and participate. As you would on Facebook or Twitter, make sure your content adds value, stays on brand and includes a call to action. Try sharing relevant articles, videos or blog posts.

Keep yourself present in your connection’s feeds to give them more opportunity to like and share your posts. This will get you introduced to their connections and offers a great opportunity to grow your network. When connections share your content it is social proof that you’re an expert in your field, which might encourage those 2nd-degree connections to reach out to you.

3. Participate in groups

It’s impossible to engage on a one-to-one level with hundreds of connections. Here’s where LinkedIn groups are a great way of making and maintaining those new connections. Join relevant groups and pick a handful to stay active on, but avoid marketing yourself or your business. Participate in (or better yet, initiate) group discussions.

If you are a member of any ‘real world’ networking groups look through their membership directory and find those contacts on LinkedIn. Remember to customise your connection request and reference the group you are both in.

You can also consider starting your own group. A certain level of kudos will come with this, and people are keen to connect with experts. When they join they are likely to connect with you.

4. Promote your profile

This is a great way to take advantage of your presence on other platforms. Make sure you have customised your URL, then place your LinkedIn profile link in your email signature, add it to your website, include it on your business cards and list it on your social media bios. This tip is easy to achieve and can really drive your traffic and therefore connections.

5. Engage

Keep an eye on your wall and be sure to share, comment on and like your connections updates and posts. There is always a lot going on with LinkedIn – new jobs, birthdays, job changes. Interacting with these important milestones is a great way to develop relationships as well as building new connections, as it will give you more visibility on the platform.


Give just 5 minutes of your day to one of these tasks and you’ll be able to track your success as your number of connections starts to grow. When you connect with the right people on LinkedIn you are truly taking advantage of one the best networking tools at your disposal, putting you one click away from meeting any one of those 630 million members.

If you would like some support with your LinkedIn or wider social media strategies, we’d love to chat.

A version of this post originally appeared on our good friends at South Thames Marketing’s blog.

Taking advantage of the benefits of Twitter for small business

Let’s be honest, Twitter is an interesting world! We follow our favourite celebrities or footballers and we’ve winced at some of the stuff they’ve shared. A scandal hits and one of the first places we turn to is Twitter! We’ve also all had that sneaky look when our phone signal goes down, just to see the comical responses that people post. Why do people get so angry? It can be an intimidating, as well an interesting place!

And in a professional sense, it can be a place where you might think, it’s best just to steer clear and concentrate your efforts on LinkedIn – especially within the B2B world.

Yet, Twitter is actually a very powerful marketing tool and an extremely effective and valuable one to build relationships with your clients (and prospective clients). We’ll be honest, we love it!

You can learn an incredible amount about your customers; you can engage with them; you can make your brand more human and importantly, you can add value by sharing relevant and engaging content. It’s also a great way to stay ahead of what’s happening in the industry and build awareness of your firm. What is there not to like? What’s more, it’s free.

However, the reason people don’t appreciate the value and power is that they do not appreciate the time and effort that is required. You get out of Twitter, what you put in!

So, here are some of our quick tips to help you find that value:

Understand what you want to achieve.

What are your goals? Is it…

  • Increasing sales?
  • Becoming a customer support channel?
  • Increasing brand awareness?
  • Tracking industry trends?

Maybe, it’s a combination of the four, but always be clear and remember you can’t be all things to everyone.

Have a clear content plan

Posting interesting and engaging content, such as blogs and white papers, is important to maintain the interest of your followers. Relevant content grows your following and increases your brand awareness. Complement your own content with relevant third-party content that will be of interest to your following. But, have a plan and remember you need to be tweeting around 3-4 times day. Mix your content up, use images, create GIFs, embed videos – make sure your newsfeed is engaging and looks your own.  But don’t forget while ‘quantity’ is important when it comes to tweeting, it cannot be at the expense of ‘quality’. If you over-post, you run the risk of coming across like an aggressive spam account.

Use Hashtags

Make sure you use relevant and popular hashtags in your tweets. Look at what hashtags are trending with your target audience. This play a big part in growing your following.

Engage, engage, engage

Twitter is not just a place for broadcasting announcements, you have to engage with your community. Retweet posts you find interesting. Add a comment or click Like. If someone comments on your posts, good or bad, reply – professionally! You’ll get positive results from Twitter when you genuinely engage with people, but this requires a time commitment. One simple tip: just take 5/10 minutes a day, maybe during your commute home, to scroll through your feeds and comment and retweet.

In most industries, Twitter is full of influencers; make sure you also follow, retweet, comment and like their posts. If you can build up a relationship with these individuals, there is a chance they will begin retweeting your content. The benefit? They have significant reach and exposure.

Measure and keep track

Twitter analytics enables you to analyse your activities:

  • You can track the performance of your tweets daily and monthly. From this, you can get an understanding of what kinds of content gets the best engagement and you can tailor your plan accordingly. It will also give you an indication of the most effective times to post.
  • You can also track how your following has increased/decreased over the last 30 days, and how many new followers you’ve received per day. You can, therefore, look at what kinds of content was posted on the days you lost followers, did you post too much that day?

Finally, don’t expect overnight results. It takes time to build a relevant and engaged community. So, stick with it and the success will follow – no pun intended!

Twitter is an ‘interesting’ world, but it’s also an extremely effective one. If you would like some support with your Twitter or wider social media strategies, we’d love to chat.

A version of this post originally appeared on our good friends at South Thames Marketing’s blog.

Social media and lead generation in 2019 – how to get quality leads with minimum fuss

Generating more leads and better-quality leads are the top priority for businesses. More leads mean more sales. We are all familiar with landing pages and forms – however, this is not the best way to engage customers in 2019 anymore. They prefer something that is more engaging and personal, and businesses prefer high-quality leads over just quantity. Here are some tips on how to draw in your potential customers and help turn those leads into sales. What types of content work and how can you use social media ads to optimise impact?
Before you start thinking about the type of content that will generate leads for you, think about which social media platforms will serve you best. Who is your ideal customer? Are you more likely to find them browsing through their Instagram feed, or searching the latest industry trends on LinkedIn? Once you have identified where your money is best spent, you can consider the type of content you want to share to pull in customers.

Types of content that work for social media

Gated content is one way to ensure that your leads are high quality, this type is especially successful for B2B marketing. The important thing here is that the content you share must be ‘valuable’ to your customers. The only way for somebody to access your content is to fill in a form and give you their details. Only then can they access your latest white paper, webinar, case study or blog post.
Alternatively, you could create content that allows your potential customers to register their intent in other ways, for example by entering a contest. You draw them in by offering a prize that will only speak to people who are interested in your product.

This could be an extended trial period or an upgrade, or any other special deal for your product. It may even be a sample give-away or a sign-up for an event that you have planned. You can see that this will generate high-quality leads because customers are openly showing interest in your company’s product and are willing to give you their invaluable details.

Social media lead ads

Social media lead ads are another way to help you turn interest into leads. When you pay for adverts on social media, you are already paying to target specific audiences for your product. With lead ads, the focus is on making it easier to capture your potential customers’ data. The ad content could be a contest, as mentioned above or a newsletter subscription. Alternatively, you might create a quiz or a poll for your customers to engage with. In that case, the ‘pay-off’ for the customer would be access to their personalized results.

The advantage of lead ads is that the user will not be forwarded to a landing page with a form, but can stay on the same website (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn) and the form is already pre-populated by the social media platform. This means that the user only has to agree to send the details through, and then they can carry on scrolling through their feed.

Geotargeted advertising

And finally, you should consider geo-targeted advertising to generate relevant leads for your business. Targeting potential leads based on their location allows you to focus more precisely on those leads that are most relevant to you. For B2B marketing you could, for example, ringfence those target users that are visiting a certain industry event, which results in focus on an audience that is more likely to be interested in your content and engage with it. And hey presto, you will generate high-quality leads.

As you can see, leads in 2019 still mainly consist of forms being filled in – however, the classic landing page form is slowly on the way out. People are still happy to fill in forms and give away their details, but as marketers, we have to find ways to make it ‘worth it’ and create minimal disruption to the customer experience on social media. The more engaging and interactive your content, the more quality leads you will snap up.

5 marketing challenges for small businesses and how to fix them

marketing challenges

The statistics for small businesses in the UK make for grim reading. Around 80% fail within a year, only half make it to five years. The good news is though, that knowledge is power. Good, efficient marketing is the most important thing for putting your business on the map and getting those customers flocking to you.

We’ve created a list of the 5 main marketing challenges and tips on how to tackle them in a way that will give you the upper hand over other start-ups.

Here’s what most businesses struggle within the all-consuming whirlwind of opening and running a successful business:

1.Time, resources and budget

Business founders often try to control everything and end up neglecting the big, important things. You want more leads and a better online presence, but don’t think you have the time. Because cash and budget are slim, you might feel that you haven’t got the resources for good online content and marketing.

How to fix this:

  • The best tool is to invest time at the beginning
  • Create a solid 12-month plan and strategy and think about how you will measure progress and set goals
  • Hire the right staff that can bring many different skills to the table and people who you can trust, they are the biggest form of resource you have
  • This will free up time for you to manage the big stuff, like budget
  • Don’t rely on only one or two big accounts to keep you going; if one of them leaves, there’s trouble
  • keep marketing all the time to create a bigger, diverse customer base
  • choose 1 or 2 marketing platforms that are best suited to reach your ideal customer
  • There is loads of helpful advice out there – such as this blog – which will break things down for you and get your strategy up to scratch in no time

2. What is your/your brand’s story, who is your audience?

The top reasons why businesses struggle in their first year are all in some way connected, so if you tackle one, you will improve elsewhere too.
Your storytelling links back to your business plan. If you don’t know who to target, why you are in this game, or why customers should buy from you, you need to go back to the drawing board.

What to do:

  • Research and define your perfect customer and based on this, choose the best marketing platforms
  • Why did you choose this business? You wouldn’t do it without motivation, that passion needs to be communicated to your customers
  • What is your USP? Why should customers buy from you instead of your opposition?

3. Producing Content and marketing challenges

Producing consistent and quality content seems a scary process, but it doesn’t have to be. A blog on your website will bring you greater online presence and boost your profile.

What to do:

  • There may be a talented writer or two on your team, give it a go.
  • Do your research – on other, similar blogs, advice blogs, LinkedIn, etc. and find out what your customer base wants to see and how to create that content within your means
  • The best strategy here is: less content, but higher value content
  • Targeting your clientele on the right platforms

4. Spreading Brand Awareness

Most people don’t know where to start with this, and just opening the door and putting an ‘open’ sign up is not enough.

What to do:

  • Keep marketing, even when you feel that you are ticking along nicely
  • Make a point of what is special about your brand compared to others
  • Do your market research, so you only give your customers exactly what they want
  • Build strategic partnerships with a non-competing business which has the same target audience, that way you can double your forces
5. Lead Generation

The holy grail for many companies is how to get more leads and therefore more sales.

What to do:

  • Your website can bring you money 24/7, so make sure it is optimized, always up to date and is clear to use; collect customer data whenever possible
  • PR – there are many tutorials and posts that give great advice on how to create a relationship with the local press and avoid blunders
  • Co-Marketing – as mentioned above, team up with another company. Maybe even a bigger, better known one, which will rub some of their reputations off on you.
  • Blogging – regular blogging drives traffic to your site, creates leads, makes you more credible in the industry and helps create an email list
  • Email list – collect customer data whenever possible. This could be online, at events, through competitions, the limit is your imagination…

This is just a short overview of the things that are often overlooked and can easily be rectified. Watch this space for more in-depth discussions on these 5 subjects, if you want more. In our future posts, we will cover each challenge and give you all the knowledge you need to start your business on the right foot.

3 Top Tips to Boost Your Company’s LinkedIn Profile

Did you know that 50% of B2B buyers use LinkedIn when making purchasing decisions?

You don’t need me to spell out what that could potentially mean for your business.

In the digital age, you can’t ignore or underestimate the value of a well-established company page on the world’s largest professional networking site. One in 3 professionals use it to find connections, engage prospects, make a career move or upgrade their skills and knowledge via content from their favourite brands/companies.

Marketing your company on LinkedIn requires a slightly different approach from other social media networking sites. This is because you need to cater to a professional audience who aren’t necessarily interested in your company or its product/service.

Maybe you do have a presence of LinkedIn but are not getting too much out of it. Or you do get down to posting now and then, but your profile is far from tidy. Whatever your situation may be, here are a few ways to boost your company’s LinkedIn profile.

Give your company page an SEO makeover

Google does take your LinkedIn company page into account when it comes to search ranking. So make your LinkedIn page SEO-friendly by including relevant keywords in the ‘About us’ and ‘Company details’ section. These can include words or phrases that best describe your company, industry, sector or product/service.

Make your copy crisp and engaging. Don’t simply copy paste the same content from your website. Instead, use unique language written with LinkedIn users in mind.

Essential details to include are an overview of your company and its products/services, its USP and contact details. Make sure it reflects your company’s objectives and values and don’t shy away from speaking directly to your followers.

Our tip: Under the Specialities section, list your top keywords and phrases. Remember that these are keywords which would list your company in the search results when users search on LinkedIn.

Teach, don’t preach

The best way to boost engagement on LinkedIn is to share updates that have your target audience or followers’ interests at heart.

The last thing people want is a brand inundating their news feed with boring company updates and sales-y info. Don’t simply broadcast news and content, but also encourage people to engage by asking a question, sharing thought-provoking stats or an entertaining graphic.

People want to be engaged, entertained and educated. So keep things varied by including a nice mix of content. From relevant articles, blogs and resources related to your product or sector to conversations around trends and the latest news. Make sure every post is relevant, valuable and helpful to your target audience.

Our tip: A good rule of thumb is the 4-1-1 rule which as first popularised by Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute. For every content update shared from your company, re-share a relevant post from another source, and then four pieces of relevant content written by others.

Rich-media content FTW

The whole point of social media is to encourage interaction by consistently putting out valuable content so that your company name is seen by a large number of people. Result? Tons of exposure and a boost in engagement.

Using rich media in your content updates is a great way to stand out in the crowd. According to research from LinkedIn, using images in your posts results in a 98% higher comment rate. Posting YouTube video content results in a 75% higher share rate.

In the age of mobile apps and limited attention spans, aim to entertain by using an engaging mix of images, videos, slideshows, gifs, emoticons and other content that make users want to consume your content.

Our tip: To give your company page a facelift, add non-stock images which represent your company or product/service. Keep your branding uniform and consistent with the design, font, colours on your company’s profile photo and banner image.

And there you have it.

We’ve discussed 3 simple but effective ways to enhance your LinkedIn Profile to gain some new traffic and engagement. That said, make sure you experiment with different types of content and different schedules while posting content so that you can determine what works the best for your company.

Do get in touch at [email protected] to discuss any of this, and how we can help you with getting your LinkedIn company page up-to-speed.