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      • How coffee shops can use social media during COVID-19

      • During the UK lockdown, we're all adhering to the #StayHome, #ProtectTheNHS, and #SaveLives response to the coronavirus pandemic. As a result of these social distancing rules, it is a time of uncertainty for us all, especially for our hospitality industry including hotels, restaurants, cafes, pubs, and bars, and it is possible you may have to keep your cafe’s doors closed a while longer. 

        But in the meantime, it’s paramount that you continue to engage with your regular customers, your target audience, and even prospective customers. You may be asking, with my doors closed, how am I possibly able to do this? Well, we have the answer for you. 

        Throughout this global pandemic, one thing has become clear - the power of social media. Social media has allowed individuals to remain connected with each other and what they love. Social media has also birthed a multitude of online challenges, aimed at keeping those stuck at home active. However, crucially, social media has acted as a vital channel for businesses to inform and engage customers. Whether you have an established social presence or will just be starting one, social media will allow you to engage with your customers, ensuring they don’t forget about your business. 

        The following information in our blog will help you utilise your social media platforms as marketing tools with the purpose of maximising the reach of your potential customers, informing and engaging loyal customers, and most importantly forging relationships with a whole host of stakeholders. 


        1. Customer engagement 

        We’re going to start things off by focusing on how you can engage your customers, as this is the most essential and opportunistic element of social media marketing during this pandemic. 

        This is a unique opportunity for your coffee shop business. Rather than using in-store surveys in your coffee shop, which will provide biased results, you can initiate and facilitate conversations on your social media channels. 

        Communicating through social media is a powerful business tool. It makes your customers feel valued, with their opinions heard, evidently building a relationship between them and your business.

        Ask questions and pay attention to responses, ensuring you provide feedback

        You need to be asking questions! Now is the perfect opportunity to invest time in improving your product range and gaining insight from your loyal customers. 

        However, it’s not enough to just ask questions. You need to analyse and provide meaningful feedback to customers' responses. Having a high response rate to customer responses online is effectively the same as good customer service in-store - it’s important. 

        User-generated content

        User-generated content is often of the highest quality and trustworthy. For this reason, you should capitalise on it, putting it front and centre of your social media strategy. 

        During our current situation, you may decide to hold a photo contest, judging your customers ‘at-home’ latte art. As an added bonus, if possible, try and encourage users to use and display your products in their images. This is a great form of free advertisement for your brand and business. 

        As for a prize, don’t offer them something irrelevant. You want the customer to come back to your shop after all don’t you? Instead, offer them a £50 gift card or a gift basket full of your coffee shop's best products. 


        1. Drive sales to your online store

        This step online applies to coffee shops that also operate an e-commerce website online. For those of you who don’t operate online, check out our blog post on how to sell coffee online

        By implementing a pull strategy, with your social media channels at the centre of it, you’re ensuring that you’re not just selling your product - you’re making it genuinely compelling to buy. 

        Now, before you go flooding your followers' news feeds with sales speel, overloading news feeds with your products is not the best way to gain positive attention - in fact, you'll likely just be met with negativity. You need to find the right balance between the content that you share and when you do decide to share promotional content, make it natural and organic instead of forced. 

        Through the aforementioned customer engagement, you’re able to gauge the popularity of alternate versions of the content - choosing to share similar content in the future. Through promoting various products, at the same frequency, a process known as A/B testing, you’re able to determine which products to invest more time and money into. Then, inform your followers with pictures and updates, crucially making your products appealing purchases. 


        1. Engaging visual content

        Your social media channels need to reflect the same experience as when customers walk into your physical store. All visual assets should be on-brand, recognisable, and recollectible. 

        There are a number of factors that will impact the perception of your business; visually attractive graphics, running enticing events, the number of likes and followers you have, your company profile image and banner, and everything else that may catch a user's attention. 

        In terms of content, it’s been proven that posts that include a form of visual content (either in the form of an image or video) receive higher levels of engagement. For this reason, effort should be made to prioritise this style of content. Keep an eye on post data and insights, altering content shared based on levels of engagement and popularity. 

        User-generated content

        As touched upon earlier, user-generated content is a perfect opportunity to promote visual content. Take the opportunity to ask users for images of their best attempt at barista grade coffee at home, with the promise of resharing the best images to your company page. To generate additional buzz, create a unique hashtag for users to include in their posts - solidifying brand awareness and loyalty. 

        Maximise the potential of Social Media

        A social media presence is more important now than ever. With the knowledge above, you’re now equipped to build your brand presence on social media channels, reaping the rewards it has to offer.