Be respectful and considerate. In any post you are putting out, remember that this is an extremely challenging period of time for a lot of people (if not all). People are on edge for a variety of reasons including health risks, job losses, restrictions and lockdowns. In any post you make during this period, keep this in mind and be sensitive to the struggles of your members and the wider community.
Keep communicating with your members and viewers. Explain what is going on with your brand as best you can with the information you have at the time, keep them updated with any important news on your business and how it will impact them. Share a reminder that you are looking out for them, you are doing what you can to re-open, and you are processing the closures on your end. You haven’t left them or disappeared. This is important for your brand awareness, and will have longer-term impacts on your brand.
Review any scheduled posts. You may have scheduled out content a few weeks or even months in advance. Make sure you review everything you have scheduled in the months ahead, and if they are no longer relevant or respectful, remove or unpublish them. For instance, if you had an upcoming post about an event that is no longer going ahead, or a group workout class that is no longer happening, make sure you unpublish this.
Focus on your brand and what YOU are about (e.g. a gym, fitness studio, pilates centre) rather than focusing on the pandemic. Acknowledge how the pandemic is affecting your business and what that means for your members, but avoid becoming another outlet that is 24/7 reporting on the Coronavirus and heightening people’s panic/fears. A lot of people at this time are highly anxious with the 24/7 news cycle on the virus, and many of us are hearing it everywhere we go. With the content you put out, make sure to keep it varied and not completely centred on what is going on in the news. Always make it relevant to your business.
Reach out to your members. Ask them what sort of content they would like to see on your page, how you can help them during this time, and what they would like to see from you during this period you are closed. This will encourage them to engage and also provide you with feedback. For instance, start Instagram polls, live workout videos, post some humorous content (whilst still being respectful) to keep your members engaged, entertained and motivated!
In all messaging and posts, keep a positive tone. This is a difficult and challenging time for everyone, but we will come out the other side. To avoid adding to the panic/hysteria, ensure your messaging and tone is calm and positive.
Avoid aggressive promotional sales pitch content__ at this present time. Consumers are still grappling with the daily changes that are being announced, and an aggressive sales pitch at this time is likely to come across as insensitive. Now is not the time to be focusing solely on profitability from your consumers, rather providing value and presence as we navigate through the early stages of the closure period.
Do not abandon your members. At this time, there may be a lot of confusion and hysteria. People are grappling with the government changes and may reach out looking for information or confirmation. Do your best to respond to your members and if there is a time lag, set up an automated email that says you are responding to them as quickly as possible in this high-influx period. It is important you don’t ignore them at this crucial time, it will affect your business and brand image in the long-run, particularly when this is over and you will be looking to attract members back.
Do not attack and diminish the severity of the virus and its impacts. Many people are suffering immensely from this pandemic, including health workers, individuals losing their income, those with health issues, and so on. It is important not to diminish or belittle those who are anxious and scared in any posts. For instance, avoid pointing out that people who are suffering from the virus did not look after their health, as this is not the case - many people suffering from the virus had pre-existing conditions and other factors.
An example of this is F45 London Bridge receiving backlash for a post which in one section said: ‘This current pandemic has already proved to be causing the greatest damage to those that have not prioritised their health in the past and therefore exposing themselves and putting themselves in a high risk category.’