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Coronavirus: Connecting in a World of Social Distancing

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Posted on 03/26/2020 at 09:00 AM

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is Changing the Way We Live, Work, and Play

A few short weeks ago in the United States, life was pretty much normal. Clients could stop into the office any time to see you, your boss could pull you into meetings, heck, you could even run to the store if you were running low on bathroom supplies. If you didn’t have time to swing by the store on your way home from the office, you could simply place an order for toilet paper on Amazon.

My how times have changed.

Thanks to the rapid spread of a respiratory disease, the global pandemic known as COVID-19, we’ve all had to add two new words to our vocabulary: “Social Distancing” and “Self-Quarantine”.

“Social distancing is deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. Staying at least six feet away from other people lessens your chances of catching COVID-19.” – Johns Hopkins Medicine

A New Way of Life

Many states have restricted gatherings to less than 10 people at a time, restaurants have been forced to provide only drive-thru or delivery services, banks have closed their lobbies, Schools have closed, Universities are going fully online-only, and suddenly Toilet Paper is the hot new must-have item. As a rsult, many of us have had to change how we work and do business. At Global Reach, we have all been telecommuting since March 16th, thanks to quick thinking from our CEO. Fortunately, we’re a tech company that specializes in Intranets and this kind of thing so our conversion to remote offices was relatively easy.

Other firms have not had such luck.

The shift to social distancing and telecommuting has hurt our economy. The government recently rushed to pass a stimulus and aide package that may or may not help, but many companies, especially small businesses, are already struggling to stay afloat or adapt their business.

How to Adapt your Business, Survive, and Thrive in a Coronavirus World

First thing’s first: the box is broken; you need to think outside of your world.

Remember: As humans and technology have evolved, we have become a very connected species. We thrive on communication and connection, both in-person and online. Self-Quarantining and Social Distancing mean fewer people are able to come to you so you have to go to them.

Think about how you can service your customers and solve their problems. We are all struggling in our own way, some more than others, so ask yourself how you can help.

Doing Business (Intranets)

It's time to figure out ways to offer your product or service online and enable telecommuting of your employees. Intranet solutions coupled with video conferencing services like 3CX allow you to host video meetings, record them, utilize chat internally so that you and your team can continue to service your customers.

When done right, a proper intranet will allow a secure way to streamline internal communications, share resources, reduce paperwork, and foster an overall positive company culture. The best part is that this is something you will continue to utilize beyond the pandemic because the right solution should be scalable and adaptable!

Your Website

If you don’t have a website, get one. YOUR people (customers, employees, and co-workers) need to connect with you online. Sure, you can do it through social media (more on that in a second), but they need a place for information about how they can still get from you what they have come to rely on. Your website is the solution.

When it comes to updating your audience via the website you have several options:

  • Create a static webpage with reliable news updates relevant to your industry or business practices

  • Activate a “pop-up” or alert on your website to direct traffic to relevant links on your site with the info they may need to know

  • Create video content explaining directly what is happening and what you’re doing about it then embed it on your website

  • Beef up your E-commerce, stay PCI compliant to handle payments securely, and foster trust while continuing to be profitable

Get Social (Media)

Just because you can’t interact as much face-to-face doesn’t mean you can’t get social! Local, State, and Federal agencies are using platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to spread their social message. If your company has never used Facebook LIVE, now is the time. If you don’t know how, no shame. We have you covered!

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Facebook Live Best Practices and FAQ

Ok, so here we go, hope this helps! Here are a few answers to questions our clients have asked and best practices for FB live events:

Q. Can I go live with others remotely on the same video?

A. Though cannot “duel go live” remotely via Facebook directly, you do have options if you want to create this kind of content:

  • use your meeting software, record it, and post it that way later to either FB or YT.
  • Use the built-in tools on apps like Zoom that allow you to go live with multiple guests from multiple locations. These allow you to stream directly to Facebook or your website from the Zoom meeting.

Q. What should I say in my Facebook Live Video?

A. Plan it out in advance. What is the purpose of the video? Do you want to educate the audience, drive traffic, or both? Don’t wing it, have a plan!

  • If you’re not sure where to start, consider your most frequently asked questions.
  • Treat it like a story- build a strong beginning, middle, and end
  • Having a bullet list (like an agenda) helps with this too.

Q. Do I need a professional set up or equipment?

A. No, you can use the camera on your laptop or even your phone! No need to get fancy, but you should keep it professional in terms of content.

Q. What about lighting?

A. The easiest solution is to make sure you face a window or have a light behind the camera not behind you. Natural light can be your best friend or worst enemy!

Q. How can I practice and test before actually going live?

A. Create a Few Practice Videos on Your Profile Page.

  • Before ripping the band aid off and going live, you should test things out by creating a practice video restricted to your eyes only.
    • You can do this by going to your own Facebook profile, and selecting “Only Me” before recording.

Q. How do I handle chat? Should I ignore it?

A. Never ignore the chat. The goal is to drive engagement and value with your audience and a chat is a great way to do it.

  • Have a colleague answering your comments in text form but prompt you to answer the most relevant questions during the actual broadcast. This is exactly the kind of engagement you can’t get any other way!
  • Call out your commenters by name, especially when answering questions. It makes the connection more authentic and meaningful.
  • Encourage the audience to interact and ask questions- at the beginning and throughout the video.

Q. What if I mess up?

A. Embrace small mistakes. If you stutter or stammer, it’s okay. Mishaps are bound to happen, but they keep the video authentic- people don’t mind. If you screw up, just keep going!

Q. How do I end the video?

A. Make sure to give an actionable sign-off. Thank your viewers, both those who tuned in live and those who will see it in the future and encourage them to visit your website.

Q. What if I am too nervous?

A. Have fun! If you’re personable, let it show!

  • Breathe deeply, no reason to be nervous
  • Smile… seriously.
  • Use humor and enthusiasm
  • Pause to emphasize specific points

After the Live Stream Ends

Congratulations, but you are not done yet! There are a few housecleaning things you don’t want to forget!

  1. Upload a custom image for the thumbnail- something that pops!
    • Once you finish recording you can click edit video and you’ll see a place to upload a custom thumbnail image (it looks like a camera with the word custom by it) . Do that!
  1. Pin the post to the top of your page.
  2. Caption the video. Facebook will do this for you if you go under the captions tab in the edit video section.

Ultimately, though the Coronavirus is a gamechanger for many of us, it doesn’t have to be the endgame. If you make yourself a reliable partner in the service of your customers, you can use this as an opportunity to grow your business relationships in new ways.

If you need help with anything mentioned in this post or more feel free to let us know (with the exception of helping you get toilet paper. Good luck and God Speed with that)! Our team is ready to assist in any way possible, even if your company has little or no digital experience!

For the latest information, tips, and resources on the Coronavirus, please visit CDC.gov.

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